Month: November 2017

How Lagos flood forced many from their apartments, crippled business activities

To anyone that relocates from Mainland part of Lagos to the Island, another part of Lagos that is regarded as an eyebrow area where ultra-high-net-worth individuals live, to them, it is like travelling to Europe from Africa seeking new ways of life. With joy and enthusiasm, they are proud to tell their family members and friends that they have relocated the Island.

For a typical “Lagosian”, living in Lekki means you are wealthy, it means you live in comfort where there is nothing but “abundant life”.

For Ademola Okemuyiwa, an accountant that relocated to Lekki with his newly wedded wife in December, 2017 due to change of job that prompted him to relocate, living in Lekki is what he described as his big dream that has come through.

“For a long time, I have dreamed to live in this part of the state due to the class of people that live here. Though some of my friends influenced me to live here, but I have also desired to live in Lekki,” Okemuyiwa said.

But reality dawn on Okemuyiwa six months after relocating to his house on Ado Road, Ajah with his wife, the yearly ritual heavy flood that lasted for more than almost three days had almost submerged his house that he could not take anything from his house but to relocate to another family’s resident in Mainland within that short period.

Also narrating his own ordeal during that period, Chima Ndubusi, a real estate agent that lives in Ajah but has his office in Lekki revealed that his house was not affected at that period, but his office was adversely affected that he could not come to his office at that time with other offices around that area because of the heavy flood.

The rain that got many parts of the Island submerged by the flood swept some debris in the area path, causing some drains and drainage channels blocked in Lekki Phase II, Osapa London, Victoria Garden City, Ikoyi, Banana Island, Badore, Bugije, Igbo Efon and Awoyaya.

Lagos State Government through the Commission for Environment in the State Dr. Babatunde Adejare when speaking to the journalists during that period said that the decision became necessary to enhance the ability of the drainage channels to effectively discharge storm water into the rivers, lagoon and other water bodies and relieve Lagosians of the incidence of flood.

With flood in Lagos becoming annual ceremony, its primary caused has been attached to different factors. Parts of which include rise in global temperature that got the ocean warm.

According to a Climate Change advocate, Rotimi Fasan, he said that when water heats up, it expands and leading to rise in sea levels as we have been witnessing in several countries in recent times.Another factor that has been believed to be the major cause of the flood is the dredging of different multi-billion dollar projects in the area. The Eko Atlantic City and some other projects are elephant projects that have required dredging of the Lagoon and the ocean.

In an effort to stop the construction of the multi-billion project two years ago, a non-governmental organisation of lawyers and Law professionals that engage in promotion and protection of human rights, rule of law and good governance in Nigeria, Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) approached the federal high court in Lagos asking for an end to the ongoing Eko Atlantic City project and dredging of other parts of the ocean.

The National Coordinator of the organisation, Chino Obiagwu said that the dredging of the ocean and construction of buildings on the reclaimed land under the Eko Atlantic City will not only flood the coastal areas in coming years, but also destroy aquatic life in the entire Nigerian territorial waters of the ocean that fishes and animals which will negatively affect the rich ecosystem of the ocean, the Lagoon and adjourning rivers, swamps and wetland of the country.

“Court should stop the project because of its destructive impact on the aquatic life in the entire Nigerian territorial waters and the environment of the coastal communities including Victoria Island, Lekki Peninsula and several fishing settlements on the west coast of the ocean,” he said.

“The lagoon is swollen up, there is high tide, so it would lock on our outfalls, the water would not recede or go into the lagoon as fast as it used to be. So that’s one of the main reasons why we are having flooding all over the place; and coupled with our own man made problems such as people blocking the drainage channels, people even building on drainage channels, that’s what has also been causing all these problems,” he said.

On how the incessant flood affected business activities in Ikoyi, Victoria Island, Ajah and other vicinities of the areas where offices of telecommunication companies, banks and other multinational companies are located, many business owners lamented the damage the rain caused to their business affairs.

Despite billion of dollar that is being owned in properties, everybody seems to be living their own shell with no solution coming to solve the imminent challenge in the areas. Things got bad that every other thing come to stand still. Anytime there is a major downpour, everything in areas comes to a standstill.


Amnesty International Testifies At Presidential Panel

Amnesty International (AI) on Tuesday testified at the Presidential Panel set up to review compliance of the military on rules of engagement in the battle.

The organisation in its evidence by two of its senior staff; Anna Neistat, Senior Director for Research and Netsanet Belay, Research and Advocacy Director, Africa insisted it has a prima facie case against the military and urged the federal government to investigate and prosecute alleged perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Their testimonies were however taken in a closed session following a statement by Baley at the beginning of his testimony that video scenes which constitute part of his evidence might be obscene.

Justice Biobele Georgewill, Chairman of the seven-man panel, however invited journalists and other members of the public for the cross examination of the two witnesses by the military.Lead counsel for the military, Prof. Yemi Akinseye-George (SAN), asked AI why it was silent on the number of military casualties in the battle against Boko Haram.

He asked the witnesses if they knew how many soldiers have been killed by Boko Haram between 2012-2017.

Responding, the first witness, Dr. Anna Neistat said the mandate of AI is to document violence against civilians and not what happens to the warring parties.

Also when asked if she had visited the theatre of operation as a researcher to get first hand information for the report, the witness said, their are competent staff of the organisation on grounds in the north, adding that reports are not just used on their own but have to be corroborated with other information and sources including from the military.

On the reliability and credibility of the sources it adduced its findings to, despite that the witness admitted not knowing them personally, she disagreed with the military counsel when she was confronted with the possibility that the sources are interested parties.

Counsel, “Do you agree that these sources are interested parties? Witness, ” No, I disagree,” she said, adding that no one testimony is just taken and put into our report without corroborating them with others.

Also, the witness told the court that they could not categorise their sources because it believed in protection of sources and would not want to endanger their lives.

Also, when asked if its claim in its report, that the military committed war crimes in the North-east was an allegation or a conclusion, the witness insisted that there was a prima facie case of war crimes against the military and urged that it be investigated.

Earlier, when the case was called, one Emmanuel Oguche of the Save Humanity Advocacy Centre, objected to the presentation of Amnesty.

He, however, suggested that if the organisation must be heard, its recommendations should not be taken

However, the panel over-ruled him.

The hearing which lasted till about 6.15p.m. was however adjourned to today for the completion of the cross-examination and hearing of other petitions.

Monday said the panel would listen to stakeholders from the south-south region over alleged human rights abuses by the Army, Air Force, and Navy.

He said the panel would take receipt of memorandum from state governments, traditional rulers, community leaders, Non-Governmental Organisations, Civil Society Organisations, human right groups and other stakeholders.

“It is gratifying to inform that the panel has been receiving memoranda from across the country as we intend to hold public hearings in each of the six geopolitical zones.


Hate Speech: Nigerians react to sanctions imposed on Radio, TV stations

Some Nigerians have taken to various social media platforms to express their views over the fine imposed on 23 radio and television stations across Nigeria for breaches of broadcasting rules set by the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC.

The NBC spokesperson, Maimuna Jimada, on Tuesday said the stations were punished for hateful speech, vulgar lyrics and unverifiable claims.

The breaches contravened the provisions of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code in the third quarter of 2017, according to the NBC.

While most people saw the move as an attempt to gag the freedom of the media, others said it is necessary as it helps to check the spread of incendiary comments.

A few of their comments are reproduced below. 

“The Nigeria State is imperatively heading to military and unitary systems of government and every well-meaning Nigerian must condemn this very act in which APC led government have introduced, which is to restrict and infringe on the freedom of speech of Nigeria, by going through radio station and television to stop the citizenry exercise their fundamental human rights. This deviant character must be condemned,” a Facebook user, Onovwie Godspower said.

“We didn’t hear these type of news during the Jonathan’s regime but a certain tyrant and dictator in the seat of power now is trying his best to silence everybody at all cost. Everybody was busy saying anything they want during Jonathan without fear of anything, learn to take the heat. If you can’t stand the heat then don’t go near the kitchen,” Scofield Dokubo James said on Facebook.

“This is very good. Many people believe that insulting their leaders and making incisive statements is part of freedom of speech or democracy. This is not so. Freedom and democracy demands responsibility and respect,” another Facebook user said.

A Twitter user, Frank Owo, said the APC government talked its way to power through propaganda, “and now you are talking of hate speech.”

The code

The NBC was mandated by Section 2 subsection (1) of Act 38 of 1999 as amended by Act 55 of 1999 to license, monitor regulate and conduct research in broadcasting in Nigeria. The commission is also tasked with the development and accreditation of mass communication in tertiary and other related institution in the country.

Though the approval of broadcast stations is at the prerogative of the president of the country, the NBC handles the entire process of licensing from the indication of interest, the procurement of application form to the final recommendation for the president approval.

In carrying out its primary function of monitoring broadcast stations in the country, the NBC uses the Nigerian Broadcasting Code.

Mrs. Jimada had earlier told PREMIUM TIMES that the code is reviewed every four years, with the help of broadcast stations, members of the public and other stakeholders.

“This code is available to all broadcasters. In fact, when you purchase your application form, the document is part of the documents you will get from the NBC. When you get your license, you sign an undertaking that you have read the code and will abide by it”, she said.

“It contains all the ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ of broadcasting in Nigeria along with the sanctions you will get if you do what you are not supposed to do. So, there is no new thing the NBC will pull out of the air if you do what you are not supposed to do.”

Nigerian Broadcast Code also stipulates different penalties to be meted out to erring broadcast stations according to classes of infringement committed.

On Wednesday, the spokesperson said there ”will be higher sanctions if erring stations fail to comply with the fine imposed on them.”


How Nigeria police officers tortured, extorted, harassed us – Victims

Despite receiving training on human rights of citizens, officers of the Nigeria Police Force have continued to unlawfully detain, torture, and harass members of the public, victims of police abuse told a human rights panel in Lagos.

The panel, which comprised members of the National Human Rights Commission and Human Rights Law Services, held a public hearing on police abuses in Nigeria on Monday.

Over 30 participants were in attendance including the Network of Police Reforms in Nigeria, Prisoners Rehabilitation and Welfare Action, and other civil society organizations.

A communique issued at the end of the hearing called for, among other measures, civil society organizations to initiate campaigns to hold Divisional Police Officers responsible for violations at their police stations.

In 2014, some civil society organizations collaborated with the Nigeria Police to develop a police-training curriculum that would replace the outdated colonial police training manual used in police training institutions.

The old curriculum lacked human rights content, a gap which the new manual set out to fill and further upgrade it to international standards for law enforcement education.

The Nigeria Police Force formally adopted the new training curriculum and the manual for use in police training institutions and for all level of police training and retraining.

But despite the adoption of the new curriculum by the Force, police officers have continued to abuse the human rights of Nigerian citizens and, in some cases, commit extrajudicial killings.

Monday’s public hearing, according to the organizers, was among strategies to assess human rights compliance by law enforcement agencies following human rights training based on the new curriculum.


Six victims of police abuse testified at the public hearing.

Sylvester Ihejirika, 27, narrated how he bought a 1999 model of Toyota Sienna from a car dealer in Port Harcourt for which he had a balance of N10,000 to pay.

He said the car dealer’s stern demand for the balance turned to threats and finally police arrest.

He was detained at the Olusegun Obasanjo Police Command in Port Harcourt for a day and later transferred to Benin, Edo State, where he spent another day in police custody. Thereafter, he was moved to Obada in Ogun State where he was held in police detention for over two weeks.

Mr. Ihejirika said he was beaten, maltreated, and his family members were extorted over N170,000, part of the money which was paid through electronic bank transfer to one investigative police officer known as ‘Scorpion.’

He tendered accounts details to buttress his claims.

During his ordeal, Mr. Ihejirika said he was not initially allowed to contact his lawyer or family member. He was finally released after two weeks in detention and without any explanation.

His request was for the police to release his car and refund the N170,000 extorted from him and his family.

Another victim, Paul Nwachukwu, who was detained at the same place with Mr. Ihejirika, corroborated his story concerning the misconducts of police officers at Zone 2 Special Intervention Force, Abeokuta, and especially the officer called ‘Scorpion.’

Blessing Taiwo, a 43-year-old Administrative Officer with Afri-Invest, Lagos, was arrested by the police on the accusation by her boss, Abiola Ojo-Sanni that she stole about $50,000 from the office while she travelled.

Her case was transferred, from the Ikoyi Division where she was arrested, to the Anti-Kidnapping Unit in Panti, Yaba.

She said while in detention, the police extorted various sums of money from her family and colleagues who were also detained along with her, adding that her younger sister and the wife of one of the co-detainees were sexually harassed by men of the Anti-kidnapping Unit.

Her case attracted media attention and led to the new Lagos Commissioner of Police, Imohimi Edgal, ordering an investigation into the sexual harassment claims, the report of which is yet to be made public.

Mrs. Taiwo requested that having been found innocent, she ought to be cleared by the police and restored back to her job.

A staff of an environmental rights nongovernmental organization, Chime Asonye, had gone to take photographs of the demolition of some slums in the Badia area of Lagos when armed police officers assaulted him and pushed him into a waiting Black Maria.

Later, he was taken to the Oshodi office of the Lagos State Task Force, along with other residents of Badia whose houses had been demolished, where he was made to delete the photographs he had taken.

He was released on the same day after he was made to enter an undertaking, on behalf of himself and other detainees, not to record scenes of demolition again.

Another lady, Ann Okpara, was arrested by officials of the Intelligence Response Team at the Lagos State Police Command Headquarters on July 14, 2017, at Igando, Lagos.

According to Mrs. Okpara, 36, she was arrested in lieu of her husband whom the police alleged was an accomplice to Evans, the billionaire kidnapper who is currently facing criminal trial.

Amidst tears, she narrated to the panel how she was manhandled in the process of her arrest and taken into detention at the Lagos State Police Command, where she was beaten to the point of coma.

The police officers who carried out the acts, according to her, included one Philip, Christian, and Idowu. She said she received injuries to her forehead, scars of which she still carries.

Her husband, Linus, thinking his wife had been kidnapped, reported the case to the Igando Police Station.

Mrs. Okpara said she was later led by the police to arrest her husband at their home in Igando and the man, a civil engineer by profession, is still being held at the Lagos State Police Command for over three months.

At the time of her arrest, Mrs. Okpara said she was nursing a baby who was delivered prematurely, adding that the police ignored it and took her into detention for over two weeks.

She further said the police collected N50,000 from her brother purportedly to release her; took her to their home and collected the few valuables they could lay hands on, including a rechargeable fan, ladies handbags which she sells and the husband’s car, a Toyota Camry, 1999 model. They further collected N40,000, N5,000 and another N20,000 from her husband.

Mrs. Okpara said her sister was threatened and intimidated at the Police Command and N1,000 collected from her. On August 9, she said the police demanded another N170,000 out of which N100,000 was given to them.

She requested for the release – or that he be charged to court – of her husband whom she said is asthmatic and also suffering from hernia.

In the case of Cosmas Iwuala, 49, who resides at Ejigbo, Lagos; he was arrested and detained in Asaba, Delta State, after he reported that his account was frozen by his bank on the allegation that N600,000 was illegally transferred to the account.

Although he offered to return the money to the person who paid the money into his account, he was still arrested and held in custody in Asaba, Mr. Iwuala said.

Mr. Iwuala said he was charged to court at Asaba and when the magistrate found no case against him, he ordered for his release.

Immediately he stepped out of the court, the police rearrested Mr. Iwuala and detained him for “several weeks.”

The victim said while in detention, he was made to pay N80,000 to be kept in a special and more ‘comfortable cell’.

He further said he narrowly escaped food poisoning after which his friend was made to write an undertaking which he was forced to sign before he could secure his release.

Mr. Iwuala requested that his bank account be unfrozen and that the police return the monies extorted from him.

In their recommendations, the panel called on the National Human Rights Commission to assist the victims identify all the police officers involved in the incidents, while also urging the Commission and NOPRIN to bring the violations to the attention of the Police Service Commission.

They also urged the victims to seek fundamental rights protection at the courts.


‘INEC waiting for amendment of law on diaspora voting’

THE dream of Nigerians in the diaspora to participate in the country’s electoral process may soon be realised, going by the words of the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu.

He said the commission had written the National Assembly on the need to thinker with the enabling law, to allow Nigerians living outside the country to vote.

Yakubu spoke yesterday with the Sudanese ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Ibrahim Mohammed, who was at INEC’s headquarters to deliver a letter of invitation to him. There are about 10 million Nigerians in Sudan under two categories- Sudanese of Nigeria origin and Nigeria migrants in Sudan.

The INEC chairman said the visit was timely, as the country would need the envoy’s support in ascertaining the population of Nigerians in Sudan.

He said the country would empower Nigerians in the diaspora to vote in future elections.

Yakubu said: “The commission intends, as soon as the enabling laws are amended, to empower Nigerians living outside the country to vote in future elections.

“This visit is timely, because the commission is part of the process of ensuring that Nigerians living abroad vote. INEC has written to government agencies, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, asking for statistics of Nigerians living outside the country, so that we know the number of Nigerians living abroad and target them in the voter registration that we will undertake as soon as the law is amended, to enable them vote.

“Countries are undertaking diaspora voting, with the recent being Kenya and Benin Republic.

It’s only a matter of time before Nigerians living abroad also have the right to vote. The commission is committed to this. We have set up a committee on how they can vote.

“We have written the National Assembly to amend relevant laws so that Nigerians living outside the country will have the right to vote in future elections.”


NJC Replaces Salami With Galadima In Corruption Trial Committee

The National Judicial Council (NJC) has appointed a retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Suleiman Galadima, as the new Chairman of the Corruption and Financial Crime Cases Trial Monitoring Committee (COTRIMCO).

Galadima replaces Justice Ayo Salami (retired) who rejected the appointment as chairman of the committee after initially accepting to serve.

Galadima’s appointment was contained in a statement by Soji Oye, Director of Information, NJC, on Tuesday.

The NJC is under the chairmanship of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Nkanu Onnoghen.

The statement indicated that the committee would be inaugurated today.

The CJN, in response to the concern expressed by members of the public on the sluggishness with which corruption cases were being heard and disposed of by courts, and the need to fast-track the administration of criminal justice, directed the Heads of Court to set up Special Courts to speedily hear and determine corruption and financial crime cases and forward the comprehensive list to the council.

Consequently, the NJC, at its 82nd meeting of September 27, 2017, approved the constitution of the committee.

The committee was saddled with the responsibility of monitoring and regularly evaluating the progress and activities of courts designated to try corruption and financial/economic crime cases.

The committee was expected to advise on practice directions for approval by the Chief Justice of Nigeria to be applicable in all such courts across the country, with a view to eliminating procedural and administrative bottlenecks militating against speedy disposal of such cases.

Among other terms of reference, the committee was to advise on the training, re-training and other refresher programmes for judges and staff of the designated courts aimed at enhancing their capacities to function effectively.

Justice Galadima was born October, 1946, in Nasarawa State.

He attended Government College, Keffi, where he obtained the West Africa School Certificate in 1965 before he proceeded to Ahmadu Bello University where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in Law in 1977 and was called to the Bar after he graduated from the Nigerian Law School in 1978.

He later received a master’s degree in Law from the University of Jos in 1985.

He joined the Anambra State Judiciary as Magistrate on July 1988 and, in 1990, he was appointed Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Plateau State.

On May 1991, he became a High Court Judge in Plateau State.

At the creation of Nasarawa State in 1996, he was appointed pioneer Chief Judge of the new state.

On December 9, 1998, he was appointed to the Court of Appeal and, on August 2010, he was appointed to the Supreme Court of Nigeria.

He retired on October 10, 2016, at the mandatory retirement age of 70 years.

Galadima is famous for his leading judgment in Shina Oketaolegun Vs. State, SC. 334A/2012, wherein he held that the Court of Appeal correctly reviewed the evidence led by both the prosecution and the defence in which he agreed that the evidence of one credible witness can justify a conviction.


Edo Communities Sue Army, AGF Over Operation Crocodile Invasion

Some indigenes of Ajakurama and Tarila Zion communities in Egbema Kingdom, Ovia Local Government Area of Edo State have slammed a N700 million suit against the Nigerian Army and the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice over the recent invasion of the communities by the army.

The petitioners, in a suit number FHC/B/CS/116/2017, filed before a Federal High Court in Benin, Edo state, alleged that the Nigerian Army, through the 4 Brigade Command, Benin, violated their fundamental human rights during the October 20 military operation in their communities, destroying property and other personal effects.

Although the Nigerian Army had explained that the operation, which was carried out on October 20 in the communities was pursuant to credible intelligence information, exposing the activities of some militants who were operating from the communities.

The petitioners, Felix Odowu, Ogolugha Odowu, Aye Nisor, Christopher Felix, Ibenatei Ipuluwei and Teacher Magic, had prayed the court to declare the said military operation during which their property were seized and wantonly destroyed as unlawful and a violation of their constitutional rights.A statement by Napoleon Egin, the counsel to the petitioners, the prayers included an order of perpetual injunction, restraining the Army, the Attorney-General of the Federation and five others from further victimisation of the communities.

“Our clients are asking for an order of perpetual injunction restraining the respondents from further breach of their fundamental rights and the sum of N700 million as general damages for injuries already suffered.

“We equally filed an ex-parte motion praying the court to order parties to maintain status quo ante bellum pending the hearing and final determination of the originating motion on notice,” the counsel added.

This step was taken in view of the sinister mission of the Nigerian Army to annihilate any adult male indigene of our clients’ communities.

“As we brief you this moment, the army’s act of hostility against the good people of Ajakurama town in Egbema Ijaw clan of Edo State continue unabated and it is however hoped that with the service of this process on them, there will be sign of peace and normalcy returning to the troubled area,” he said.

Captain Muhammed Maidawa, spokesman of the 4 Brigade Command, Benin, when contacted said the operation was in response to a credible information on the activities of some suspected militants who he said are living in the communities.

The Army earlier claimed to have discovered a cache of ammunition and military regalia from the hideout of the suspected militants in the community, an allegation the residents described as “giving a dog a bad name just to hang him.”