Month: December 2018

Buhari At 76: Nigerian Women Storm Abuja, Launch ‘Tell Your Neighbour Say Baba” For His Reelection

As tributes and encomium continue to pour in for President Muhammdu Buhari on his 76 birthday, Nigerian women Monday morning trooped out in their number to celebrate him.

The women, under the aegis of African Women Arise for Change and Good Governance , who stormed the Unity Fountain to declare their support for the president, called on Nigerians to reelect Buhari in 2019.  Speaking on behalf of the women group, Mrs. Jaiyetola Mohammed, said the president deserved all the support to win reelection in 2019.

“Of a truth, we are confident that God kept Mr President for a purpose. Our group stood by him at all times especially when he was ill and needed to take a break to attend to his health. Nigerians are happy that God has seen him through and put naysayers to shame. “Today is a day to thank God for healing, to thank God for wisdom, to thank God for victory over those that had concluded as men that it was the end when in reality God is just starting with taking our dear country to a new place through President Buhari.

 “The fight against insurgency and taming of Boko Haram is one point of encouragement that no woman who has ever given birth would want to witness. Mr. President and our Army stood boldly for the country when it was risky to do so.

“We commend him for the many other infrastructural projects across the country. While the end result will benefit citizens collectively, we can attest that the execution of these projects have created millions of indirect jobs for women. These jobs have been strategic to reducing poverty and empowering women to taking greater control of their lives. For us this is a boon that we do not want disrupted. We want to continue to have access to decent work, investment opportunities and access to capital as we are currently getting due to intervention of our dear president.

“As members of African Women Arise for Change and Good Governance , we have therefore resolved to go back to our respective homes and work very hard for the re-election of Mr President. We shall be moving to our various states, local governments, wards, polling units and door to door to show other women how the re-election of President Buhari would ensure that even more women would be able to benefit from life changing government programmes. This project we have christened “ Tell Your Neighbour Say Baba” and will be going to the 36 states of the federation after this celebration.

“The mobilization we will be doing is our token birthday gift. It is our thank you to Mr President and it is our own way of saying we want him to do more of the great job he has been doing with Nigeria.”

 

 

2019: Atiku boycotts Peace Accord as EU pledges Neutrality

The candidate of the major opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2019 general elections, Atiku Abubakar, on Tuesday boycotted the signing of Peace Accord among all presidential candidates for the elections.

News men gathered that the leadership and officials of the PDP also boycotted the event which was organised by the National Peace Committee headed by the former Head of State, retired Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar.

The Peace Accord is an undertaking by all the presidential candidates to ensure peaceful and rancour-free campaigns before, during and after the 2019 general elections. The candidates are also expected to avoid hate speech, fake news or any act capable of causing socio-political unrest in the country. News men gathered that the event was attended by President Muhammadu Buhari, the presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) as well as over 68 other presidential candidates. who presented a keynote address and Head of the European Union Delegation to Nigeria, Ambassador Ketil Karlsen. In his remarks, Karlsen reiterated that the European Union was not in support of any of the presidential candidates in Nigeria’s general elections in 2019. He, however, stressed the need for all the candidates to abide by the rules and regulations governing the electoral process in the country. News men report that a similar Peace Accord was signed between former President Goodluck Jonathan and the then APC Presidential Candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, prior to the conduct of the 2015 presidential elections.(NAN)

Protest as police arraign Sowore’s supporters for destroying campaign posters

Six supporters of the presidential candidate of the African Action Congress, Omoyele Sowore, were on Monday arraigned before an Ikeja Magistrates’ Court for allegedly destroying the campaign posters of other political parties and candidates in Lagos State.

PUNCH Metro had reported on Monday that Olagokun Odunayo, 27; Kool-kloud Henry, 26; Ugaju Joseph, 29; Damilola Omidiji, 31; Michael Kate, 18; and Banwo Olagokun, 31, were caught tearing and replacing campaign posters of other parties and candidates with those of the AAC around 2.30am on Sunday.

The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, CSP Chike Oti, had in a statement on Sunday, said the action of the suspects was against the law of the Lagos State Signage and Advertising Agency to regulate outdoor advertising in the state, adding that the state Commissioner of Police, Edgal Imohimi, had directed that the suspects be charged to court.

The exhibits reportedly recovered from the suspects were posters bearing the picture of the presidential candidate of the African Action Congress, Sowore, brush, buckets containing gum and torn posters of other political parties.

The members of the ‘Take It Back Movement’ were arraigned on three counts bordering on criminal damage of property and conduct likely to cause breach of peace.

The charge read in part, “That you, Olagokun Odunayo, Kool-kloud Henry, Ugaju Joseph, Damilola Omidiji, Michael Kate and Banwo Olagokun, on December 9, 2018, around 2.30am on Awolowo Way, Ikeja, in the Ikeja Magisterial District, did conspire among yourselves to commit felony to wit; criminal damage to property.

“That you, Olagokun Odunayo, Kool-kloud Henry, Ugaju Joseph, Damilola Omidiji, Michael Kate and Banwo Olagokun, on the same date, time and place in the aforesaid magisterial district, did conduct yourselves in a manner likely to cause breach of peace by tearing campaign posters of other political parties and replacing them with the AAC presidential candidate’s posters.”

The police prosecutor, Inspector Donny Raphael, said the offences contravened sections 412, 340 and 312 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State of Nigeria, 2015.

The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges. The counsel for the defendants, Taiwo Olawale, requested for his clients’ bail in liberal terms. The presiding magistrate, Mrs B. O. Osunsanmi, granted the defendant bail in the sum of N50,000 each with two sureties each in like sum.

She said the sureties must be gainfully employed with evidence of two years tax payment to the Lagos State Government and have their addresses verified by the court.

Osunsanmi adjourned the case till February 4, 2019.

However, before the arraignment, some supporters of Sowore, who marched to the Area F Police Command in Ikeja, were reportedly shot at, tear-gassed and arrested.

The protesters had demanded the release of the six supporters being detained.

An eyewitness told our correspondent that the police shot directly at the protesters, whose conduct was said to be peaceful.

He said “The protest was based on the arrest of our comrades. While we were at it, the police shot at us and fired teargas canisters at us. One of our members was hit.

“The police moved in and arrested some of us but they were later released.”

The Director of Media and Communications, Sowore Campaign, Rachael Onamusi-Kpiasi, said many of the protesters sustained injuries and one car was impounded.

“The ‘Take It Back Movement’ and the AAC party are still trying to account for the members who embarked on a peaceful protest this morning. Witnesses at the scene reported being shot at and tear-gassed, with many of them sustaining injuries,” she stated.

When contacted, the Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, CSP Chike Oti, said the action of the police was aimed at preventing unnecessary bloodletting.

He said, “The party is not the only political party in Lagos State and we are not seeking anything. These people were arrested at an unholy hour in the morning tearing other peoples’ posters. If they had done that unnoticed, other parties will be quarrelling with each other over it; they will be pointing accusing fingers at the wrong party and this can lead to a breach of public peace.

“This morning, when we wanted to charge the suspects to court, the supporters practically invaded the police station in a tumultuous manner to cause panic and possibly overpower the officers at the police station, which we resisted by using a non-lethal weapon called teargas to disperse the riotous mob in order to prevent unnecessary bloodletting and to be able to carry out our constitutional duty of prosecuting the offenders.”

China Deals Another Blow to the International Human Rights Framework at its UN Universal Periodic Review.

Over the past several years, the Chinese government has steadily been promoting its own version of human rights –– “human rights with Chinese characteristics”–– at the UN, and maneuvering to insert language trumpeted by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), with Xi Jinping as its core wordsmith, into various UN resolutions, with an eye toward assuming a leadership role in global human rights governance.

China’s third Universal Periodic Review (UPR) by the Human Rights Council (HRC) on November 6, 2018 provided a high-level global forum for the government to announce its newly formulated five-pronged “human rights development path with Chinese characteristics.” In a press conference following the review, Assistant Foreign Minister Zhang Jun claimed that more than 120 countries supported China’s path during the review, and that China’s formulation was “completely correct.” In prioritizing “the right to development” as thefundamental human right and implicitly discarding the fundamental principle of the universality, interdependence, and indivisibility of all human rights, China’s “path” poses a serious threat to the international human rights system.

Although the key components of the PRC’s human rights path are not new, they have been repackaged into a tidy framework, which China confidently proclaimed at its 2018 UPR (@1:25 and 6:09). Earlier, at its 2013 UPR, the PRC stated in its national report that it was “working to explore paths for human rights development.” By 2018, China had discovered the path, described by Zhang Jun as “national conditions-based, people-centered, development-oriented, rule of law-guided and openness-driven.”  This article takes a look at some of China’s moves to promote its “development-trumps-all” human rights narrative and agenda, weaken the UPR mechanism (and, in the process, the credibility of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)), and further its efforts to gut the international human rights framework as we know it.

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Mechanism   

The UPR is a key mechanism of the Human Rights Council (HRC); indeed, it was intended to make the HRC, established in 2006, more robust and equitable than the body it replaced, the UN Human Rights Commission. In this intergovernmental, State-driven mechanism, all 193 UN Member states are reviewed every four and a half years. The review is conducted on the basis of three documents: the national report of the State being reviewed, and two documents prepared by OHCHR–– the compilation of UN information on the State under review, and the summary of stakeholders’ information, which includes information submitted by NGOs.

Three and a half hours is allocated for the review.  The UN Member State under review is allotted a total of 70 minutes, which it uses for opening and final remarks, and comments and responses during the interactive dialogue. The remaining 2 hours and 20 minutes is apportioned equally among the countries that sign up in advance to speak at the review. In China’s 2018 UPR, each State that registered to speak was given 45 seconds to make their statements; in 2013, each country had 50 seconds. The Chinese government uses its influence to stack the roster with its friends(e.g. aid recipients, like-minded dictatorships, BRI partners, etc.) and as a result, countries poised to offer remarks critical of the PRC’s human rights record and make substantive human rights-based recommendations have less time to do so.

The review is intended to evaluate the State under review’s progress toward achieving and implementing recommendations it accepted during its previous review; fulfillment of the State’s human rights obligations and commitments; and the country’s overall human rights situation. During the interactive dialogue portion of China’s 2018 UPR, 150 delegations made statements, and offered 346 recommendations (@1:30). The Chinese government will provide its position on the recommendations by the 40th session of the Human Rights Council in March 2019. Regarding which recommendations the PRC is likely to accept, and those it’s likely to reject, the head of the UPR delegation, Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng, suggested the answer during his final remarks. He said “an overwhelming number of countries have fully recognized China’s efforts and achievements in promoting and protecting human rights over the last five years,” and that the Chinese delegation sincerely appreciated their “many constructive comments and recommendations.” @3:07:22) As for certain other countries, Vice Minister Le said, “We will not accept the politically driven accusations from a few countries that are fraught with biases, and in total disregard of facts; even less will we entertain attempts to use human rights as an excuse to interfere in China’s internal affairs or undermine its sovereignty and territorial integrity.” (@3:08:14)

China Finds its Human Rights Path for the New Era

In the PRC’s National Report submitted for its 2013 UPR (2013 Report), the section that lays out the government’s human rights theory is titled, “The concept and theoretical system of human rights under socialism with Chinese characteristics.” There is no mention of “human rights with Chinese characteristics.” As noted above, the government stated at that time it was “working to explore paths for human rights development.” (para. 5.) The 2013 Report further states that China:

“respects the principle of universality of human rights and is of the view that all countries have a duty to take measures, commensurate with their national conditions, continuously to promote and protect human rights in accordance with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and the basic spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the relevant international human rights instruments.” (para. 4)

By the time of its 2018 UPR, the PRC had finished its exploration and discovered a “distinctively Chinese” path (@6:35), a path that abandons international human rights norms. The relevant section of the 2018 Report is titled, “The concept and theoretical system of human rights with Chinese characteristics.” There is no mention of the principle of universality of human rights; indeed, the only mention of “universal” is in the negative: “There is no universal road for the development of human rights in the world.” (para. 4) Nor is there a mention the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), or “relevant international human rights instruments.” Australia noted the change from 2013 in an advance question to China, and asked:

“Does China still accept the principle of universal human rights, and if not, can China explain how its conception of human rights fits into the international human rights regime built on the concept of universality? Can China explain how “human rights with Chinese characteristics” differs from universal human rights, and if it does not, why it wishes to introduce this distinction?” (Advance Questions, Addendum 3)

This is clearly a human rights path grounded in Xi Jinping’s New Era. Not only are fundamental norms of the universality and interdependence of human rights jettisoned, the Chinese government has also dispensed with any mention of theories articulated by Xi’s predecessor, Hu Jintao. While the 2013 Report contains references to Hu’s “scientific outlook on development” and “harmonious society,” they are absent from the 2018 Report. The Report states:

“[T]he cause of human rights must be promoted on the basis of national conditions and the needs of the people of that country, and cannot be defined on the basis of a single authority. Guided by Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, China attaches great importance to the promotion and protection of human rights, ever acting as an advocate, practitioner and promoter of the cause of protecting human rights and always following the road of developing human rights with Chinese characteristics.” [2018 Report, Para. 4, emphasis added]

The translated phrase “on the basis of a single authority” is a curious rendering of the classical phrase 定于一尊 (dingyuyizun). The meaning is more along the lines of “no one (path of human rights development) should be regarded as the only choice,” or superior to all other choices.

In its 2018 Report, the Chinese government argues, in effect, that the international human rights framework is just one choice among others, and that it should not be taken as the highest authority. What, then, is the highest authority, or “the right system”? For China’s human rights development, there is only one “correct path”–– and it lies with Xi Jinping. The report describes the five-pronged path as the “road of developing human rights with Chinese characteristics” ­­–– a road that “takes national conditions as the foundation”; “takes the people as the centre”; “takes development as the priority”; “takes the rule of law as the criterion”; and “takes openness as the motivator.” (paras. 5-10.)

The PRC’s “Development First” Agenda Gains Further Ground in the HRC

Development, and the right to development, were front and center during the interactive dialogue portion of the UPR, punctuated by strong concerns raised by a smaller number of States about the mass detention of Muslim minorities in “vocational training centers” in Xinjiang, and a wide range of other human rights abuses in China.

As it’s done in the past, the Chinese government seemingly rounded up its friends and beneficiaries to engage in what could be taken as an example of offline “flooding”: the UPR, whose purpose is to review the human rights obligations and actual human rights on the ground of the State under review, was inundated by comments and recommendations from countries praising China’s development, requesting China share best practices, expressing gratitude for aid, and asking for more.  Many developing countries and members of the so-called Like-Minded Group (including, e.g., Russia, Syria, China, Cuba, Venezuela, etc.), which are decidedly not human rights-friendly, offered recommendations to China such as the following:

Namibia: “Continue sharing experiences and best practices in implementing people’s right to development.” (Draft Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: China (11/8/18); A/HRC/WG.6/31/L.3, para. 6.128)

Pakistan: “Continue to promote discussions in the Human Rights Council on the role of development in promoting and protecting human rights” (para. 6.33); “Continue to promote the Belt and Road Initiative to help other developing countries in their development endeavours” (para. 6.45).

And in an advance question to China before the review, Pakistan asked: “China has made tremendous achievements in implementing the right to development. Could China share relevant experience?”  (Advance Questions to China First Batch –Rev)

Lao People’s Democratic Republic: “Continue to communicate with other developing countries on the experience of the state governance, including promoting and protecting human rights” (para. 6.52).

Nigeria: “Sustain its efforts in the global fight against terrorism and extremism” (para. 6.145).

Venezuela: “Continue to forge a new type of international relations featuring mutual respect, fairness, justice, and win-win cooperation and building a community with a shared future for human beings” (para. 6.36).

It’s worth noting that Venezuela didn’t quite get the New Era lexicon right during the interactive dialogue, and its recommendation was amended in an early version of the draft report for political correctness. Venezuela did not utter the CCP’s “win-win” slogan during its oral statement, and it described the future as a “shared future for human beings,” neglecting the “building” of “a community.”  The Spanish-to-English interpreter used “forms” instead of “type” (as in “new type of international relations”) and “equity” instead of “fairness.” These “mistakes” were subsequently fixed, in what seems to be another example of PRC influence and discourse management at the UN.

Money Matters and OHCHR  

In its 2018 Report, the PRC notes that it donated $100,000 to the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Development mandate, a new special procedure created in September 2016 (para. 76). At first glance, it’s puzzling that this mandate was created in the first place when a Working Group on the Right to Development already exists, but it turns out to have been another move by the PRC to promote development within the HRC, and occupy more “space” and resources focused on the right to development. Not surprisingly, Venezuela introduced the resolution creating the mandate on behalf of China and the Non-Aligned Movement, which was adopted by a vote of 34-2, with 11 abstentions. France and the UK voted against the resolution. The first (and current) special rapporteur, Mr. Saad Alfarargi of Egypt, participated in the first South-South Human Rights Forum held in Beijing in December 2017, by invitation from the Chinese government. During the UPR, Vice Minister Le said that the PRC will invite the Chair of the Working Group on the Right to Development to visit China (@10:24).

At the 2013 UPR, the PRC announced a dramatic increase in its funding for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Special Envoy of the MFA, Wu Hailong, said that China would increase its annual donation to OHCHR from $50,000 to $800,000 for the next four years (@17:30). During the 2018 review, Vice Minister Le announced that China would (again) donate $800,000 annually to the OHCHR for the next five years (@10:20).  The PRC stated in the 2018 Report that it “maintains constructive contacts with [OHCHR], encourages them to perform their duties objectively and impartially, and attaches importance to the concerns of developing countries” (para. 76).

The Chinese government clearly has influence at OHCHR, which it uses to shield its human rights record from scrutiny, mute criticism, and control access to information it would rather keep hidden. The extent of the PRC’s influence, and the different tactics and leverage it uses to exert it, awaits an investigative journalist to thoroughly unravel, but in its groundbreaking report on China’s interference in UN human rights mechanisms, Human Rights Watch provides several examples of Chinese pressure on the OHCHR and special procedures, quoting one UN official as saying:  “China keeps bullying us, saying, ‘Don’t do that,’ ‘Don’t do this,’ or ‘We urge you not to do this.’”

One of the main functions of OHCHR is to provide support for the work of the HRC, including the UPR, and, as mentioned earlier, it is responsible for drafting the compilation of UN information, and the summary of stakeholders’ information. In the run-up to the 2018 UPR, OHCHR was involved in machinations that point to PRC interference in the Office’s work. The details of the disappearing and reappearing NGO submissions on the OHCHR website, inputs from groups the Chinese government views as particularly “troublesome,” and exclusion of their information from the stakeholders’ summary prepared by OHCHR, are explained in a joint statement signed by concerned NGOs, which include, among others, the Uyghur Human Rights ProjectWorld Uyghur CongressTibetan Centre for Human Rights and DemocracyDemosistō, and the International Service for Human Rights. The NGOs stated that despite the OHCHR’s belated fix of most of the issues (mere days before the review), they “remain very concerned that the removal of these reports gives further credence to well-documented NGO concerns of China’s growing influence within the UN human rights system, and the deliberate silencing of critical voices.”

After China’s success in the HRC in June 2017 with its resolution titled, “The contribution of development to the enjoyment of all human rights,” I wrote, “What this means, in short, is that China will continue to promote, and attempt to expand, the importance of the right to development and economic rights, while at the same time endeavoring to curtail and weaken the enforcement of civil and political rights.” And so it has. During the UPR, the Chinese government touted its self-described “correct” human rights path, and by presenting a depraved defense of its “vocational training centers” in Xinjiang demonstrated that it was wholly unconcerned with civil and political rights, and the truth. Despite strong, rights-based recommendations from the human rights-friendly countries that participated in the review, China was nonetheless able to use the global stage of the UPR to further advance its “development trumps all” agenda at the expense of the established international human rights framework.

Atiku To Buhari: Sign Electoral Act Amendment Into Law If You Are Really Interested In Credible Elections.

The Presidential candidate of the PDP and former Vice President of Nigeria Atiku Abubakar, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to sign into law, the Electoral Act amendment which is on his desk, if he is really interested in the conduct of free, fair and credible elections. Speaking at the inauguration of his Presidential Campaign Council on Thursday in Abuja, Atiku said that signing the Electoral Act Amendment into law was necessary because elections were governed by laws and that good laws were required to ensure credible elections.

“Such laws constrain the behaviour of all who are involved in the electoral process, including the candidates and their supporters, security agents and the electoral umpire (in this case the INEC)”, Atiku said. Atiku predicted that the 2019 presidential election would be tough based on the desperate moves of the APC government to cling to power at all costs.

“We are facing an APC government that is desperate to cling to power at all costs, which means that this will be a tough Presidential election”, he said.

The former Vice President said it would take a focused campaign that would not take anything for granted and a campaign of eternal vigilance for victory to be guaranteed. Atiku said that he was not surprised that the APC government was running a campaign of “personal attacks and innuendo”, which he said, was caused by the fact that party had failed to keep its promises to the Nigerian electorate.

“Having little to point to as its achievements in nearly four years in office it wants to distract the attention of our people by choosing personal attacks over issues. “A government that has been in power for nearly its full term should be campaigning on its achievements, its record, rather than personal attacks and fresh promises it obviously will not keep.

“Nigerians know that the APC government has failed woefully. We have to continue to remind our people of that and also tell them what we will do differently to get Nigeria working again”, he said.

The Waziri Adamawa said that he had made it clear right from the beginning that his 2019 Presidential campaign would be focused on issues rather than personal attacks and therefore enjoined members of the Council to ensure that issued-based campaign was maintained. He called on the leadership of the party to ensure that enlightened, resourceful and well-trained men and women were hired as agents at the polling stations and collation centres.

Atiku said that a campaign structure that would ensure uniformity in its operations had been put in place but added that states could set up structures that would address local peculiarities. “However there will be no parallel structures so we can avoid confusion in our activities and our messaging. We must run a disciplined campaign that stays on message all the time”, Atiku said.

He called on the Campaign Council to establish a functional and effective Situation Room to monitor the campaigns and the electoral process itself until the last vote is counted and the results announced.

 

Knocks, kudos as Access takes over Diamond Bank.

Shareholders of Diamond Bank Plc have demanded an investigation into the financial institution’s “merger” with Access Bank Plc. The deal worth over N23.160 billion cash consideration will see to shareholders of Diamond Bank getting N1 per share.

Nevertheless, they applauded the board’s quick resolution in picking the alternative rather than allow degeneration to regulatory bridging, as was the case with Skye Bank Plc.

After a series of denials by Diamond Bank, zero response by Access Bank, and silence from regulatory authorities, both lenders are finally headed for an outright acquisition disguised as a merger.

The Guardian however had earlier predicted that the deal would be sealed in record time despite the denials, with a similarity akin to Access Bank’s takeover of Intercontinental Bank Plc in 2012.

Yesterday, Diamond Bank affirmed its submission to the powers of Access Bank, describing the relationship as a union that would create Nigeria’s and Africa’s largest retail bank by customer-base.

It also admitted that the deal, which completion is subject to certain shareholder and regulatory approvals, is in the best interest of all stakeholders, including employees, customers, depositors, and shareholders.

According to the chief executive officer of Diamond Bank, Uzoma Dozie, the consolidation in the Nigerian banking industry is an inevitable and natural progression. “There is clear strategic rationale for the proposed merger and strong complementarity between the two institutions,” he said.

The chief executive officer of Access Bank, Herbert Wigwe, on his part, noted: “Access Bank has a strong track-record of acquisition and integration and has a clear growth strategy. We have a strong financial profile with attractive returns and a robust capital position with 20.1 per cent Capital Adequacy Ratio as at September 30, 2018.

“We believe that this platform, together with the two banks’ shared focus on innovation, financial inclusion and sustainability, can bring benefits to Access Bank and Diamond Bank customers, staff and shareholders.”

In his reaction, the founder of Independence Shareholders Association of Nigeria, Sunny Nwosu, described the move as a step in the right direction, especially when compared with the Skye Bank case. What Access Bank needs now is to authenticate the deal by holding an extraordinary general meeting of its shareholders once all the regulatory processes are completed, he said.

“What we want to hear is how they will administer such a big institution. This is better than what the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation, Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria, and Central Bank of Nigeria are doing. It is a quoted company versus a quoted company. This shows that it is a peaceful transaction,” he said.

The managing director of Proactive Shareholders Association, Taiwo Oderinde, also applauded the development, saying, “Because we are the shareholders of the two banks, we have not lost anything, unlike in Skye Bank. This is a better deal for us as shareholders. All the regulatory parties to the transaction should approve it.”

The chief research officer, Investdata Consulting Limited, Ambrose Omodion, further described it as “a good deal for holders of Diamond Bank shares. With the acquisition, Access Bank is to pay Diamond Bank’s shareholders N1 per share, plus two units of its shares for every seven units of Diamond Bank’s shares.”

The co-founder of Noble Shareholders Association, Gbadebo Olatokumbo, however, called for an investigation and sanction against directors superintending activities in the leadup to the bank’s failure. “We should start holding these people accountable; they should not be allowed to go free. Those who are behind this must be held responsible,” he declared.

A financial and investment analyst, Johnson Chukwu, was skeptical about the use of the key word defining the deal. “It is not believable to say that the deal is a merger when Access Bank is offering N3.13 per share of Diamond Bank, which traded at N0.95 last Friday and appreciated to N1.04 yesterday after the announcement of the merger.

“If one party is paying the other in cash consideration, by buying the other’s shares, it cannot be merger, but clearly an acquisition. Basically, they will use a term that will appear positive to the investing public and customers,” he said.

Chukwu described the shareholders’ decision as proactive, to avoid a scenario like Skye Bank’s. “Ultimately, it is better that an operator is saved from possible distress because the investors of Diamond Bank are better now than those of Skye Bank who may have lost some shares,” he added.

Another cynical industry expert, who pleaded anonymity, noted: “They can call it a merger or anything. For one thing, Access Bank is known for its aggressive takeover, as in the case of Intercontinental Bank. Again, it does not make business sense for a bank with less than N25 billion market capitalisation to merge with that of more than N200 billion.”

In March 2012, Access Bank completed the acquisition of Intercontinental Bank after all relevant regulatory, judicial and shareholder approvals had been granted, a move many observers dubbed “aggressive”.

Speaking on the merger, the erstwhile group managing director/chief executive officer of Access Bank Plc, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, said: “The conclusion of this transaction is a significant step forward for the Nigerian banking sector; it has preserved thousands of Nigerian jobs, protected the savings of millions of citizens and laid the foundation for the creation of a truly great, African bank.”

But allegations have continued to trail the acquisition of Intercontinental Bank. Claims of underhand tactics remain unanswered, especially in relation to non-performing loans of N16.247 billion in the balance sheet of Intercontinental Bank Plc as at May 31, 2009, held against the then group managing director and deputy managing director of Access Bank Plc.

Indeed, the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRC) in March 2014 invited the former boss of the defunct Intercontinental Bank, Erastus Akingbola; former CBN Governor Lamido Sanusi; Aig-Imoukhuede; and Herbert Wigwe for a chat bordering on investigations into the accounts.

Later in March 2014, a group of shareholders of Intercontinental Bank Plc approached a Federal High Court in Abuja seeking N10 billion as damages from the former CBN governor over alleged fraudulent banking practices in the sale of Intercontinental Bank to Access Bank Plc. The plaintiffs, Abdullahi Sani, Adaeze Onwuegbusi and Chijioke Ezeikpe accused Sanusi of conniving with Aig-Imoukhuede, Wigwe and Senator Bukola Saraki to sell the bank in an alleged bid to enrich themselves.

The shareholders pleaded with the court to order the CBN to recover N16.2 billion and N8.9 billion, in addition to accrued interests owed Intercontinental Bank by Aig-Imoukhuede, Wigwe and Saraki. They also requested the court to declare that the acquisition of Intercontinental Bank by Access Bank through the alleged backing of Sanusi “without any lawful justification whatsoever in a bid to confer corrupt advantage upon himself and his friends/associates/cronies” was illegal, null and void.

They consequently prayed the court to order the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to conduct a comprehensive public enquiry into the acquisition.

Man charged with impregnating pupil wants out-of court settlement

A 40-year-old businessman charged with defiling and impregnating his neighbour’s daughter in Lagos, on Monday, sought an out-of-court settlement.

The accused, Nwanne Nwaora, requested before an Ikeja High Court that the case be settled out of court in the interest of the child produced by the unlawful act.. He made the request through his counsel, Mr Worer Obuagbaka. Addressing the court, Obuagbaka said,“If he is sentenced to life imprisonment, the interest of the new child will be in jeopardy. “If the case is settled out of court, and the defendant has asked to take care of the child and the defiled child (complainant), which is enough punishment.

“If he is jailed, it will not be in the interest of the new child who will go through trauma knowing that her father is languishing in jail. “I will like to request for an adjournment to enable us to interact with the relations of the victim so that the defendant will be made to take care of the new child and the defiled child by an order of this court.”

The defence counsel told the court that he was asking for a plea bargain agreement by the prosecution and defence. Objecting, the lead prosecution counsel, Mr Y. G Oshoala, said that Nwaora must lawfully pay for the alleged crimes.

“Contrary to the submission of the learned defence counsel, two witnesses – the victim and her mother – are in court, and I learnt they have been to court on seven or more occasions. “The defendant defiled a 12-year-old child and another child was produced from that act. “The defendant should plead guilty; during allocutus (plea for mercy before sentencing), the defence counsel can bring up the points he is canvassing. “The defendant should not eat his cake and have it; he should assume legal responsibility for his actions,” Oshoala said.

Ruling, Justice Josephine Oyefeso said, “I have considered very carefully the submissions of the learned counsel; I have considered that the defence counsel has only been briefed and that a plea bargain agreement is being requested by the defence. “In view of the fact that the defence counsel has not been served with the proof of evidence, I will grant an adjournment.  “The case was adjourned until January 7, 2019, for definite trial or report of plea bargain,” Oyefeso said.

According to the prosecution, Nwaora defiled the pupil in November 2015 in her parents’ apartment. He is alleged to have lured his victim’s brother out of the apartment by sending him on an errand. After the incident, the defendant allegedly threatened to kill the pupil if she would reveal it to anyone. Months later, the pupil’s mother noticed changes in her body and confronted her, thereby making her to reveal what happened.

NAN reports that the two-year-old child born as a result of the defilement was in court with her mother and grandmother. Ms O. C Aga, a lawyer from the African Women Lawyers Association, also made an appearance in the courtroom to observe proceedings.

NAN reports that defiling a child contravenes Section 137 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011, which prescribes life sentence for anyone found guilty of the offence.

 

OAU ‘sex-for-marks’ lecturer, Akindele sentenced to two years in prison

A former lecturer in the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, Prof. Richard Iyiola Akindele, who was dragged to court for demanding sex to pass one of his students, Monica Osagie, on Monday, was sentenced to two years in prison. Justice Maureen Onyetenu, who had to stand down the case two times, before finally giving her judgement, said regardless of the plea bargain arrived at by the parties, Akindele should be used as a scapegoat to deter higher institutions’ lecturers in the habit of molesting female students because of sex from engaging in such acts.

She sentenced Akindele to 24 months jail-term for asking Monica for a sexual benefit and handed him another 24 months jail-term for soliciting from the victim sexual benefit to pass her.

The visibly displeased Justice Onyetenu also sentenced Akindele to 12 months jail-term for deleting parts of the Whatsapp conversation between him and Miss Osagie to conceal evidence against him and sentenced him to another 12 months jail-term for falsification of age. The six years jail terms are to run concurrently.

The judge who insisted that plea bargain could apply when public interest was involved, stressed that public interest was against Akindele, saying many female students have been turned to sex slaves by higher institutions’ lecturers.

“The menace is getting to secondary and primary schools. I am a pastor and a counsellor. I know mental torture many of our female students have been subjected to by the likes of the respondent.

“The adverse effect of such action is huge. Many of his likes have been awarding marks to those students that are ready to warm their beds, thereby releasing half-baked graduates into the society,” Onyetenu said. Earlier, Akindele informed the court of his decision to change his plea from ‘not guilty’ to ‘guilty.’