Ganduje Calls On Buhari To Stop Movement of Herdsmen Into Nigeria

KANO State Governor Abdulahi Umar Ganduje has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to stop the movement of cattle herdsmen from other African countries into Nigeria.

Ganduje made the call on Saturday while launching the first batch of RUGA settlement in Kano, North West Nigeria.

The governor said he made the call in order to “successfully and effectively prevent the coming of herdsmen from other African countries, because they come to this country (Nigeria) with guns and other weapons which flame the clash between herders and farmers.

“As they come with such weapons, they bring crime and criminalities to the country (Nigeria).

“That movement is what brings to us all sorts of clashes between herders and other communities, apart from the farmers.”

Grazing of cattle on farm crops has been a major cause of violence between Fulani cattle herdsmen and farmers in the country.

It has brought serious hatred to the name ‘Fulani’ in the country such that other tribes in the north sojourning in southern part of the country often frown and reject any association with ‘Fulani’ during business transactions.

A community in central Delta State where over eight people were killed in a day by suspected Fulani cattle herdsmen early this year banned the sale and consumption of beef within the community as a way to repel the offensive herders.

Major kidnaps and banditries in parts of the country are suspected to be masterminded by Fulani cattle herdsmen.

Kano State Governor, therefore, explained that his administration decided to engage in the RUGA project “for three fundamental reasons:

“First and foremost, to avoid clashes between farmers and herders; secondly, to avoid movement of herders which is the source of conflict; and to avoid cattle rustling.”

He further explained that the settlement would contain 200 units. 25 units were commissioned on Saturday.

“This is the first batch of the housing units of 25 out of 200 units earmarked for construction,” Ganduje said.

According to him, the settlement would include units of living houses, schools, hospital, police station and earth dam for cattle rearing among other facilities.

The RUGA settlement is situated at the Yanshoshi forest in Kiru Council Area of the state which the governor said would serve as the main herdsmen settlement in the state.

Ganduje hoped that the project would improve on the quality of dairy products in the country.

“It is absolutely necessary to improve and modernize the breeding system for Fulani cattle as it is clear that a gallon of milk is more expensive than one gallon of petrol; it is, therefore, necessary for us to utilize this great opportunity,” Ganduje added.

He appealed to the Federal Government for support.

RUGA was proposed by the federal government. It was to be sited in all states of the federation, but it generated much controversy as a result of criminal antecedents of herdsmen in the country.

Some state governments, particularly among the southern states, proposed ranching system where herdsmen could settle with their families and pay appropriate bills and taxes to the government, like any other business in the country.

Cattle owners would not accept such arrangement, given that the business is largely subsidized by the federal government in which little or no tax is paid.
The situation attracted herdsmen from central and west African countries, some of whom had been engaged by terrorists groups fighting in some regions of Africa; hence the call by the kano State Governor.

President Buhari alluded to the threat while on his visit to the White House last year. Hetold his American counterpart that much of the reported violence in Nigeria was an aftermath of the armed conflicts in Libya.

Even though observers interpreted the allusion as a sentiment weep-up, the Nigerian president acknowledged that there had been movements of bandits into Nigeria from other African states, among whom were expelled cattle herdsmen from Mali.

Though inter-state crime formed bulk of reasons for which the Nigerian borders with neighboring countries were closed late last year, the menace of cattle herdsmen in the country has not reduced.




Pastors Locking Down Churches Are Witches, Says Oyedepo

THE General Overseer of Living Faith Church Worldwide (a.k.a Winners’ Chapel), Bishop David Oyedepo, has again, lambasted priests and pastors in Nigeria who seek favours from the government at the expense of Christianity.

He spoke on Sunday during ministration against the backdrop of some priests in the country whom he said were angry that he lamented the closure of churches by the government.

“But they are too diplomatic than spiritual, so they just keep losing ground to the devil. Some Pastors were angry that I said Churches should be opened and we are praying that Churches must be opened,” Oyedepo remarked.

“Now, ask them: ‘Do you want Churches to remain closed?’ They will just be looking at you. ‘Do you want Churches to remain closed, because I know you are a celebrated Pastor?’

‘Do you want Churches to remain closed? Then, you are an agent of the devil. If your children scatter around and you can’t see them; they now say: ‘when do you want them to come back?’ You now say, ‘anytime’; then you are a witch,” he asserted.

“No! It is just normal,” he the Bishop added.

The Bishop also criticized priests whom he said are not often happy with the growth of any denomination which they considered as rivals.

 “If you ask them, ‘Do you want the Church to start going down; because some of them are Pastors. Are you among the ones praying: ‘Oh God, let this Church go down in the name of Jesus; let this Church go down.’ Are you praying like that?” he queried.

“Find out why the Church is not growing. You must have a problem and most of the time, the problem is ignorance, not knowing what to do and not ready to find out. There are many, many Churches that don’t have any platform of contact with their members. They don’t have any; no house fellowships, nothing. They don’t have any; and nature abhors vacuum. These fellows will start looking for options and alternatives. Some (go) to the cults and some to native doctors’ places,” he lamented.

He said his church was able to set up cells throughout the world during the lockdown so that people could continue to worship at coordinated smaller units worldwide.

“We have tens of thousands of House fellowships (which are quite vibrant). Even under this lockdown, my own outreach office has created 82 new Home cells for our new converts. There are many, many big time Churches, big networks that don’t have any contact.

He said his church had been able to send welfare packages to the needy members since the lockdown began which he said amounted to hundreds and millions of naira.

Before the federal government announced the lockdown in the first instance, the presidency convened a meeting with religious leaders in the country.

Most of them agreed to that the churches should also close during the period, but Bishop Oyedepo refused. He told the government that the pandemic requires prayers and any closure of the church would result catastrophe by the disease in the country.

He continued normal services during the first week of the lockdown but was arrested by a combined team of Lagos and Ogun States COVID-19 taskforces.

After his release, he continued to fight against the closure of churches particularly in Nigeria.

He is not happy with prominent priests in the country, who agreed to close Body of Christ at the behest of a strange pandemic, which Oyedepo said, required prayer battle.

He donated ambulance and protective gears to the government for physical curtailment of the spread of the disease, while beleiving that it required spiritual battle.


Okowa Scores Self High

GOVERNOR of Delta State, South-South Nigeria, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa on Monday scored himself quite high, saying his administration had worked hard to reduce poverty level in the state through numerous empowerment and job creation programmes.

Okowa made this assertion during his appearance in ‘Your View’, a TVC programme via Skype, monitored in Asaba, Delta State capital.

He said the state government was committed to giving the people of Delta a good standard of living which he noted they truly deserved as citizens of an oil-producing state.

The governor stated that women and youths had benefited immensely from his administration's job creation programmes, which he said led to the rating of the state as the second best state with the least poor people in the country.

He disclosed that his administration had created a good number of jobs through huge investments on roads, health and education infrastructure; adding that prevailing peace in Niger Delta region also imparted gainfully on the local economy.

"A lot has been done in Delta State in the last five years and the people are happy. Only recently, Delta was rated very high when it comes to the issue of reduction of poverty, because we have done a lot in trying to create jobs for our people, trying to get our people engaged; we have done a lot in keeping the oil facilities working as it ought to be and that has greatly improved the local economy.

"And, very importantly, we've done quite a lot in terms of road infrastructure, health infrastructure, school infrastructure; a lot has been done even as we give special attention to technical education because it is good for us.

"A lot is also being done for the women; in the first instance, our job creation programme which is from the Job Creation Office, we have ensured that in everything we do, there is a minimum of at least 40 per cent of women engaged in the job creation programme.

"We have trained several thousands of youths and of course, most of the fashion designers we are talking about, over 300 of them, who were engaged in the production of the one million face masks, were actually women.

"From the Ministry of Women Affairs a lot is being done to empower our women and we have also started a programme such that even as we have reduced our budget for 2020, rather than reduce our budgets for women we are actually up-scaling it.

“This is because we understand that this is the time to truly empower women to put food on their tables,’’ he said.

Okowa added that his administration had made provision for special attention for the girl-child in the state to ensure that girls got a good start in life.

The governor said when his administration noticed that the girl-child was also being neglected, the state government created an office for girl-child entrepreneurship development and empowerment.

"We are very happy about it, because we want to be sure that our women and girls are properly engaged because when they are engaged they can actually keep the family well fed, because women know how to manage funds much better than men and there is no doubt about that," the governor enthused.

"Through the Ministry of Youths Development, we just approved and released funds to engage youths in 270 wards and I have insisted that at least out of the three which we are choosing, one person must also be a female. So we are doing quite a lot apart from our Micro Credit Development Agency where a lot of women have truly been imparted," he stated.

Okowa was elected and sworn-in as governor on May 29 2015 in the first instance. He was re-elected in 2019 for a second term.
Okowa, like many other governors in the country sworn-in on May 29 2019, is concluding the first year in his second term of four years.

Not many of them are rolling out the drums on this May 29, celebrating the anniversary, given the prevailing health situation across the globe.

However, critics are of the view that most governors in the country have lost bearing and focus, due to the coronavirus pandemic and may have to redefine their various programmes in post-lockdown era, given the growth stagnation of the nation's economy in the past three months, just as most affected economies of countries are receiving serious attention of the respective governments.





Okowa Monitors Inter-state Lockdown, May Prosecute Violators


DELTA State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, on Saturday warned that unauthorised vehicles entering the state in violation of restriction on inter-state movement ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari to stem spread of COVID-19 around the country would be impounded.

The governor, who gave the warning while monitoring compliance of the order at some boundaries between Delta and neighbouring states, said that operators of such vehicles risked prosecution.

He told newsmen after monitoring situations at Niger Bridge, boundary between Delta and Anambra and at Alifikede, the boundary community between the state and Edo on the Benin-Asaba highway, that he was satisfied at the level of compliance with the regulation.

Okowa reminded security agents and members of the state’s Task Force at the boundaries that only vehicles carrying agricultural products and those on essential duties should be allowed into the state.

He restated the state government’s seriousness at implementing the inter-state lockdown order, saying that he was aware that some persons were being moved from one part of the country to the other.

He charged the security operatives and members of the task force to be vigilant so as to detect unauthorized movements and stop them from gaining entrance into the state.

“We have gone round to see the work the Committee and some of our youths are doing in enforcing the inter-state lockdown to ensure that it is being done properly the way it ought to be done,” Okowa said.

"There are certain protocols that have been allowed; inter-state movement of goods and services has been restricted to agricultural products and in that respect, only such vehicles are supposed to be moving from one state to another.

"But, most Nigerians will always want to do whatever they wished; so, we have had to ensure that our 13 boundaries with other states are well secured.

"We have various security agencies at every boundary and we have decided to add to them our community youths to help ensure that the processes set in place allow only those who are permitted by the order of the President or by the order of the state government to go through the state.

"Every other vehicle is supposed to be turned back. We have come out today at the Head Bridge and the junction between Edo and Delta at the Alifikede boundaries.

"A lot of work is being done by the task force set up in these two places and I am hopeful that this is same thing going on in the other eleven places.

"The reason behind the inter-state lockdown is because we want to limit the number of persons moving across states so that we try as much as possible to limit the spread of the Coronavirus.

"The numbers are already going up in Nigeria and there is the need for us to limit the spread and that's the reason for the inter-state lockdown in terms of movement and I believe that it has been achieved at both sites that we visited today," the governor added.

He commended the officials at the boundaries for their efforts at controlling movement at the boundary points and urged them to do more as the fight against COVID-19 needed the input of all.

On the observed free movement of people from Asaba to Onitsha and others from Onitsha into Asaba on foot and motorcycles, he urged the security agencies and task force members to do more to avoid more cases of infection by COVID-19 due to unregulated movements.

Okowa stressed the need for residents of the state to sustain the use of face mask, saying that it would help to reduce the level of infection.

He affirmed that anyone caught without face mask in a public place would be quarantined in an isolation centre.

He called on well-spirited Nigerians to assist the state government in the provision of more face masks for the people as government could not do it alone.

The governor also reiterated the call on residents to practise physical distancing, regular wearing of face mask, routine washing of hands with running water and soap or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer, and other precautionary measures that would keep the pandemic at bay.

He dismissed reports of alleged influx of almajiris into the state, adding that the taskforce had been directed to check every vehicle coming into the state.

"We have given instructions to those manning the boundaries to ensure that every vehicle is checked and anyone carrying more than the authorised number of passengers, especially the motor boy and the driver should be turned back.

"Only the driver and possibly two other persons should be inside such vehicles conveying approved goods into the state.

“Any number beyond that should be turned back and I can see that they have been doing that and I haven't been briefed of the influx of almajiris into the state," he explained.

Reports earlier on Saturday said some lories ferrying large number of persons from northern states suspects to be Fulani, some said almajiris, were intercepted in Lagos, Osun and Ogun state.




Obiano Lifts Lockdown Order In Anambra


ANAMBRA State Government has lifted the lockdown imposed on the state.

The sit-at-home order, like many other states in the country, was imposed as a measure to control the spread of coronavirus.

However, the latest measure was announced Saturday evening by the state governor, Willie Obiano, who directed the churches in the state to resume full Christian activities.

The governor directed that food and drug markets earlier shut down should also open, while a day for the resumption of schools and civil servants would be later announced.  

“All food and drug markets in the state are to open with immediate effect.

“I will meet with market leaders on Monday, 27th April, for further discussion. When to re-open the schools as well as when civil servants will be allowed to go back to offices will be announced soon,” the governor said.

In his broad on Saturday, Obiano asked churches to resume full activities. He however stated that the worshippers must wear face masks and observe the World Health Organisation’s guidelines during church services.

He listed other ordinances as regular hand washing, avoiding handshakes, application of hand sanitizers and social distancing.

The governor further declared that movements within the state were not restricted, while all boundaries in the state remained closed.

By this announcement, Obiano has deflected his counterparts in other states who reportedly met and reportedly agreed to extend the lockdown by another three weeks but would prefer the presidency to make the announcement to prevent expected attacks on the governors by people of the respected states.

Many Nigerians have expressed anger and dissatisfaction at various state governors’ handling of the situation.

In Anambra’s western neighbour, Delta state, people of Warri on Thursday warned the state governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, not to contemplate extending the second-time imposed lockdown, arguing that residents were dying of hunger at home, while their business activities were being destroyed by the sit-at-home order.

Some clergy were arrested and convicted in Udu Council of Delta State by the lockdown mobile courts for defying the order, whereas policemen and soldiers enforcing the lockdown were allegedly collecting various sums of money from the people to allow them to operate.

They also argued that while micro and medium scale entrepreneurs were counting their losses, multinationals were allowed to operate in the state. They gave example with MTN casual labourers, who, they said were seen on Saturday in large number on Okpanam Road in Asaba mounting telephone cables.

The reference activity of the telecommunication network operator tended to justify the allegation by Pastor Chris Oyakhilome of Christ Embassy that the lockdown was to enable Nigerian Government install the controversial 5G, alleged of posing adverse health hazard to human.

Critics argued that although some workers rendering essential services were exempted from the sit-at-home order, installation of telecommunication cables does not fall within the range; yet the company has the backing of the government.





Gov. Masari Announces Total Lockdown of Buhari's Home


NIGERIAN northern city of Daura, country home of President Muhammadu Buhari, is totally lockdown following cases of outbreak of the pandemic coronavirus in the city.

Katsina State Governor, Aminu Masari, who announced the order on Friday, said the action was considered after three persons in the city tested positive for the Coronavirus.

They are members of the family of a medical doctor, Dr. Aminu Yakubu, who died of Coronavirus in the state last Tuesday.

It is feared that other contacts of the medical doctor who returned from Lagos shortly before his death might also be at risk of possible infection.

According to the governor, the lockdown of Duara will start 7am on Saturday.

It may be extended to other areas of the state, according to the governor.

“We gave this grace to enable people make necessary purchases.

“However, three pharmacies and three grocery stores will be identified for people to patronise under strict supervision and when absolutely necessary.

“The state government will also provide palliative support to the people of Daura within the period of the lockdown.

“We will continue to monitor situations as they unfold and will not hesitate to lockdown any local government area that may record positive COVID-19 case. We won’t falter in putting the whole state under total lockdown should the situation warrants,” the governor said.

Katsina State Governor, Aminu Masari on Friday disclosed that three family members of a medical doctor who died of Coronavirus in the state have tested positive for the virus.

Masari said that out of the samples sent for testing, 23 results had been returned; 20 tested negative while three were positive.

“Incidentally the three are the deceased doctor’s wife and his 2 children,” he said.

The governor said identification and taking of samples were still ongoing in Daura.

Meanwhile 14 treated patients of the disease were discharged in Lagos in two days.

Lagos Governor, Babajide Sanyo-Olu, had announced the discharge of seven patients on Thursday, while the discharge of another seven was announced on Friday bringing the total to 14 persons.  




Lagos Health Authorities Impressed At COVID-19 National Management


LAGOS State Government says it is impressed, so far, at the management of coronavirus situation in the country, attributing the low-case spread of the virus in Nigeria to timely and adequate response by the concern authorities.

Lagos Health Commissioner, Akin Abayomi, made the assertion on Monday at a press conference in Lagos, saying the low number of COVID-19 cases recorded in Nigeria compared with other countries, could also be attributed to peoples’ compliance to the sit-at-home order by the Federal Government.

Abayomi noted that the low number of cases recorded in the State indicated that the strategies adopted by the State government were yielding the desired results.

“We are achieving success in delaying the spread of infection and expanding the time needed to impose social distancing and other measures. This is an indication that we are gradually winning the battle against the spread of the disease,” Abayomi noted.

He commended residents for complying with the restriction order, even while lamenting that a few people flouted the order.

He pleaded that residents should adhere to the order to enable workers continue tracing suspected cases and to respond timely in locating infected people within the state.

The Health Commissioner also revealed that the completed isolation centres in Onikan Stadium would be officially opened on Tuesday, while additional 180-bed-space facility built at the Gbagada General Hospital would be commissioned by the end of the week.

“We have enough facilities to manage the situation. We also have enough Personal Protection Equipment in stock for our health workers.

“Presently, we are still operating from the Mainland Hospital where we still have 60% of our bed-space available. Our Isolation Centres in Onikan Stadium and Gbagada General Hospital will be opened tomorrow (Tuesday) and end of the week respectively. We believe this will provide almost 300 bed spaces,’’ the Health Commissioner said.

He is hopeful that actual cure for the disease could be available in the near future, given the ongoing level of global research.

“There are lots of researches going on around the world, so it is possible that at some time in the near future, we will have what we may describe as a definitive cure for COVID-19,” he said.

However, the State Government will begin clinical trial for Coronavirus next week in partnership with the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, NCDC.

According to Abayomi, the clinical trial would begin with Coronavirus patients and staff in Lagos State.

“Indeed we are setting up our own clinical trials in Lagos in collaboration with other institutions and the NCDC and hopefully by this time next week, we should have started some clinical trials on our patients and on our staff in Lagos State,” the Lagos Health Commissioner said.

Index case in Nigeria was discovered in an Italian traveler in Lagos who was treated and has been discharged.
At the moment over 245 cases has been reported in the country with about 2 deaths while more than 15 patients have been treated and discharged.



Medical Doctor Cautions; Christians Declare War On Coronavirus


A medical doctor in Asaba, Delta State capital has warned health officers in the country to be sure of the accuracy of their diagnoses before announcing cases of Coronavirus in the country just as cases in the country has increased to 31 by Sunday.

The medical doctor, who is of the Federal Medical Centre Asaba, warned that rumour would escalate the situation if not checked. He spoke against the backdrop of speculations.

A teacher at a public school in Okpanam near the state capital was said to have told her students mythological stories about COVID-19, leading to some of the private schools shutting down before the March 26 date earlier announced by the state government.

Some parents of a private school between Okpanam and Issele-Azagba on the highway rushed to the school Monday morning demanding the release of their children in the school’s boarding facility. A staff of the school said the children were released to the parents as demanded before shutting down indefinitely.

“These are results of rumours,” said the medical doctor. He advised health officers around the country particularly Lagos and Ekiti were cases earlier reported to be sure of their tests before announcing the results.

He said he was not comfortable with reports coming from Ekiti state where an American was initially reported to have died of the disease only for the health officials in the state to say later that the symptoms were like COID-19 symptoms.

“There is no estimation in medicine. Be sure of your diagnoses before you treat or disclose to the world,” he said.
He also remarked that the index case was doubtful, given that information about his treatment leading to the cure which returned him negative were unavailable.

“At a time cure for the disease was still being experimented around the world, Nigeria reported that the index case in the country had been cured and returned negative about two weeks after the diagnosis, it sounds great but incredible given the nature of the disease,” he said.

The medical doctor is a staff of Federal Medical Centre Asaba who does not have official authority to speak on such issue. He craved for anonymity before expressing himself in a private chat.

Meanwhile former President Atiku Abubukar tweeted last Sunday, saying his son tested positive to the pandemic coronavirus (COVID-19) as Nigerian Christians on Sunday embraced faith-based approach to the endemic coronavirus despite ban placed on mass gathering in some states.

“My son has tested positive to coronavirus,” said Atiku; adding that the National Centre for Disease Control had been duly informed.

“He has been moved to Gwagwalada Specialist Teaching Hospital in Abuja for treatment and management. I will appreciate it if you have him in your prayers. Stay safe, coronavirus is real,” said Atiku in his tweeter handle.

In Delta State and Abuja Christian faithful declare war against the deadly disease which the American President Donald Trump politically referred as, “the Chinese virus.”

Some of the churches visited last Sunday in the Delta State Capital, Asaba and the environs held special prayer sessions against the spread of the disease.

At the Region Six Headquarters of Mountain of Fire and Miracle Ministries in Asaba behind the stadium, officiating Pastor Adeniran Adediran took authority from the Bible citing Psalm 91 verse seven, declaring that strange diseases are not for children of God who truly bear the blood of Jesus Christ.

Though the service which closed at 11.30AM was brief, all prayer points were directed at the stoppage of the raging virus.
Similarly in the federal capital, Abuja, catholic faithful marched round some parts of the city, some of them wearing combat military dress, chanting war songs and banning coronavirus from the country.

Situation in Lagos was quite different as many of the churches observed the ban on public gathering of persons beyond 50 in number by the state government, albeit protests from Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) which argued that the ban was illegal.

Businesses particularly in public services in most parts of the country have been shut down. In Lagos, Ogun and Anambra, while schools are shut down, public services have remained skeletal. Lagos State Government on Sunday announced that its workers from grade levels one to 12 should commence a holiday effective from Monday 23.

African Prudential Registrar also announced that all the annual general meetings of companies under its registry earlier announced had been postponed indefinitely.

Shares of most of the blue chips in the country have continued to slide in the past one month arising from the pandemonium in the world.


Okowa Reiterates Need For True Federalism


DELTA State governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, on Friday, reiterated the need for proper restructuring of the country by which the federating units could truly operate on the basis of equity, fairness and justice.

Okowa made the call while receiving leaders of South-South and Middle Belt Forum comprising Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Ohaneze Ndigbo, Afenifere and Middle Belt who visited him in Asaba.

Maintaining that restructuring was imperative, he said that there must be equity, fairness and justice in all that was being done as a nation and that restructuring was necessary in the promotion of a true federalism.

“We should remind the nation and the Federal Government that there is need for restructuring,” he said; pointing out that the existing constitution of the country was not given to the nation by Nigerians.

“The National Assembly had made attempts to amend it (the Constitution), but due to divergence of views, it has not been easy to amend it.

``Unfortunately, a whole lot of things are sacrificed on the altar of politics and political parties and this is a major problem in this country,” the governor stated.

He lauded the leaders and members of South-South and Middle Belt Forum for their sustained advocacy for restructuring for a true federalism; saying, “I belief that you people are doing a good work.

“You need the support of all and on my part, the little I can do, I will do to support you to the best of my ability.”

On the recent killing of people in Uwheru in Ughelli North Council of the state by suspected Fulani herdsmen, Okowa said that the state government was making arrangement on how to assist the children and families of the deceased.

He assured that the State government would convey its condolences to the affected families and remarked that the farmers/herders crisis was a nationwide challenge, which must be tackled with utmost sincerity by the appropriate authorities.

The governor, however, expressed hope that a lasting solution would be proffered to the rather endemic problem.

Earlier, the leader of Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, who spoke on behalf of the leader of the Forum, Chief Edwin Clark, told Okowa that they were in his office to lend support to the South-South Governors Forum’s initiative to float a regional security outfit, and to condole the state over the recent killings in Uwheru.

Adebanjo disclosed that the group wanted the country to be restructured, explaining that restructuring was not a new or political philosophy, stating that restructuring had to do with true federalism.

According to him, anyone opposed to restructuring is an enemy to the country.

He commended Okowa for his passionate commitment towards infrastructure development in the Delta. He urged him not to relent.




Lagos Bans Religious Gathering Over Coronavirus Amidst Controversy


RELIGIOUS processions and gatherings exceeding 50 people in Lagos, southwest Nigeria, have been suspended as speculated last Wednesday.

The authorities said the decision was taken after a meeting of stakeholders in order to curb the spread of the endemic coronavirus in the country.

Home Affairs Commissioner, Prince Anofiu Elegushi, who read from the communiqué said the suspension would endure for four weeks, adding that it might be reviewed if necessary.

According to Elegushi a 15-member committee was set up to enforce compliance.

But there are indications that enforcement would be difficult given reactions already.

According to a pastor with Mountain of Fire and Miracle Ministries in Asaba, Delta State capital, suspension of Christian gathering would amount to suspension of life. “Prayer is the main food for every practicing Christian. If you suspend food while not fasting, then you are inviting death.”

Also Pastor TB Joshua of the Synagogue in Lagos while declaring end of the coronavirus last Wednesday said strange diseases were not for Christians. He called on Christians to fast and pray without habouring any forms of fear while remaining faithful to the promises of Jesus Christ.

A lawyer, James Amalaonye also said banning religious processions anywhere in Nigeria would involve declaration of state of emergency by the president given the provisions of the 1999 constitution.

“Banning or suspending religious gathering as reported, is a human step in the right direction due to the situation in the world today;” Amalaonye said, “but such action by any state government in the country would contravene section 38 of the 1999 constitution dealing on rights to freedom of thought, conscience and religion,” he added. He said it would require a declaration of state emergency by the president of the federation.

Critics also argued that banning all other gatherings might be in order but not serious minded Christian groups who are faith-based tackling all difficult human challenges as the raging coronavirus.

“Our Lord Jesus delivered people from unknown ailments and cured many people of strange diseases like today’s HIV and said we should do the same thing. We believe in Him and by His blood on our lintels and foreheads, we will never contact any deadly disease according to His words. We will continue to pray without ceasing as He enjoined us,” said an MFM Pastor in Region Six of Midwestern Province.






WHO Confirms 147 Cases Of Coronavirus In Africa


WORLD Health Organization Regional Office in Brazzaville said on Thursday that the novel Coronavirus had been reported in 15 African countries and that 147 cases had been confirmed.

The report posted on its news website might have included the second case in Nigeria which eventually turned out negative at its second test made available to the press after WHO had issued its report.

The report added that, so far, four deaths from COVID-19 related cases had been confirmed. Last Wednesday, WHO in Africa declared the strange disease a pandemic.

“With COVID-19 officially declared a pandemic, all countries in Africa must act,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, “Every country can still change the course of this pandemic by  scaling up their emergency preparedness or response. Cases may still be low in Africa and we can keep it that way with robust all-of-government actions to fight the new coronavirus.”
The organization said containment remains the most appropriate strategy for African countries.  Apart from South Africa and Algeria – which have clusters of transmission linked to imported cases – the confirmed COVID-19 cases in the African region are sporadic importations from European countries, mainly Italy, France, Germany and Spain. 

To focus on containment in this narrowing window of available time, the WHO Regional Office for Africa is shifting from readiness to response mode.  In countries with confirmed cases, efforts are underway to trace people who may have come into contact with those confirmed to have COVID-19. 

According to WHO for Africa, efforts to support countries as they bolster essential early detection and surveillance capabilities at their ports, airports and land crossings are underway. 

“So far, 62 WHO experts in technical areas including coordination, treatment, infection prevention and control, community engagement and surveillance have been deployed across 18 countries, and more deployments are planned,” says the report. 
Those experts who have arrived in countries with confirmed cases are now assisting national governments in their response, helping them to manage the disease and prevent onward transmission. 

The WHO Regional Office for Africa said it had also developed tools for Member States to help with the rapid collection and reporting of alerts, cases and contact data, streamlining any eventual contact tracing. 

A WebEx training was recently held to help surveillance focal points and data managers in-country on the use of these tools.
According to the report, critical gaps remain and WHO is striving to help member states fill these gaps.  Demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) like gloves, masks and hand sanitizer means that there are now global shortages. 

WHO has completed its first blanket distribution of PPEs to 24 countries, and another wave of distributions is being planned, focusing on countries with confirmed cases, countries neighboring those with confirmed cases, and major regional transport hubs, planning another. 

Transfers of PPE from WHO’s main warehouse in Dubai to a regional distribution hub in Accra is underway, and nine countries in the African region are due to receive deliveries of PPE directly from Dubai. At a global level, WHO is preparing new guidance on the proper use of PPEs. 

Mounting pressures on virus transport media (VTMS) are also emerging.  VTMS are containers for the safe and secure transport, maintenance and storage of clinical samples containing viruses. 

WHO said those countries with critical shortages are the first priority to receive shipments, “and alternatives to VTM swabs are also being explored.”

The report added that individual actions and behavior are vital for preventing the transmission of the virus.  “This is why the WHO Regional Office for Africa has been supporting countries by developing community engagement strategies, ensuring that risk communication packages are disseminated to health facilities, and supporting local authorities as they produce radio messages and TV spots to inform the public about COVID-19.” 




Countdown To Edo 2020, Obaseki Sets The Scene


EDO State governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki last Friday flagged off the countdown to the 2020 National Sports Festival (NSF) holding in Benin, saying the festival would help to unite the entire nation, reports News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

Speaking at the countdown and sensitization rally at the Government House in Benin, the governor noted that it was 31 days to the event.

“This festival is a festival of unity to unite Nigerians. It is a festival to encourage Nigerian youths and a festival that will take the country to the next level.

“We are here to begin the countdown. For a big event like the NSF, we have to commence the publicity from now,’’ Obaseki said.

He commended media houses for the support given to Edo Government in its preparation to host the festival.

The state’s deputy governor, Mr. Philip Shaibu, disclosed that accommodation had been prepared for about 11,500 athletes and officials expected to participate in the game.

Shaibu added that proprietors of hotels across the state had agreed to give a 30 per cent discount for accommodation for the guests and spectators.

“From 10 days to the opening of the game, we will publish the names of the hotels and the prices of the rooms to enable our visitors check and know which one they can afford,” shuibu said.






Nigeria's 17th Appeal Court Begins Sitting In Asba


A new Division, the 17th Court of Appeal in Nigeria, began sitting Monday February 3 2020 in Asaba, the Delta State capital.
CourtlyNews had earlier reported that the state governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, had earlier hinted that the Court which had been under construction would be ready for commissioning on February 3.

The President of Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, who inaugurated the Division in Asaba reaffirmed that justice would always be manifestly seen as done.

At the ceremony witnessed by the state governor, Bulkachuwa said establishing the Court in Asaba was in line with efforts of the Judiciary in ensuring access to justice, quick dispensation of cases and efficient administration of justice.

She noted that the Court increased the number of its divisions in order to reduce difficulties associated with long distance travels to courts, cost of transportation and delays, adding that each of the divisions was always busy.
According to her the Court hears appeal from the Federal High Court, High Court of Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Sharia Court of Appeal of a state and FCT, competent tribunals that might be established by Act of the National Assembly like Code of Conduct Tribunal and Elections Petition Tribunals.

She explained that Benin Division of the Court was one of the divisions which covered Delta but was always busy, hence the need for another division in the area.

According to Bulkachuwa, there were numerous requests from the Nigeria Bar Association and the Delta State Government for the Asaba Division of the Court of Appeal to be established which she said was graciously granted by the Chief Judge of Nigeria.

The President of the Court noted that at inception in 1976, the Court of Appeal had three divisions namely, Kaduna, Lagos and Enugu. The number later increased to five, with the establishment of Benin and Ibadan divisions, and subsequently other divisions were added.

The Court president commended Okowa for what she called “prompt and result-oriented response” which eventually led to the establishment of the Court of Appeal in Asaba.

She also thanked the people of Delta State for creating the enabling environment for the Court to be established.

Bulkachuwa assured that the Court would maintain effective presence in Asaba as it was the hope and prayers that the commissioning would provide peaceful and conducive atmosphere for the execution of justice without fear or favour, affection or ill-will in accordance with the oath of office sworn to by the judges.

"It is also my prayer that those who come to us to seek justice will always leave this temple of justice fully satisfied that not only that justice was done but that it will manifestly be seen to have been done," said Bulkachuwa

In his address, the governor remarked that the inauguration of the Court complex was a thing of great joy and satisfaction of resounding hope and fulfillment for the legal profession and all the people of Delta State.

He said it had been a priority of his administration to extend the frontiers of justice administration to the people for the purposes of fairness, equity and timely service delivery.

“The opening of this Court today (Monday February 3) further demonstrates our commitment to the rule of law and social justice. I wish to state that this administration is delighted to have this additional federal presence in our state,” Okowa said.

He noted that besides the Court of Appeal providing speedy access to justice in a cost-effective manner, the presence of such a federal institution would enhance the profile of the state, create more jobs and impart positively on the retail economy.

“It is my expectation that this temple of justice will stand as a beacon of hope for all – the rich and poor, the mighty and the lowly, the powerful and the weak – who seek refuge and protection under the rule of law," the governor said.

High points of the event were the unveiling of the Statute of Justice, inauguration of an e-Library for the Court and its inaugural sitting, presided by Bulkachuwa.

Justices of the Appeal Court, other judges and top government functionaries including the Minority Leader, House of Representatives, Chief Ndudi Elumelu, attended the event.
Nigerian judiciary recently came under severe public knock as a result of the Supreme Court controversial judgment on Imo State 2019 governorship election.




Delta Workers To Receive Minimum Wage This Month


WORKERS in Delta State will receive the new minimum wage in January, 2020 as the state government and the organized Labour have resolved to accept the template being used by the Federal Government for the implementation.

At a joint press conference where the agreement was signed in Asaba on Friday evening, the Secretary to the Delta State Government, Mr. Chiedu Ebie stated that with the agreement, two months arrears would be paid to the workers.

"From the word go, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa made it clear that his administration will implement the new minimum wage in line with the template received from the Federal Government ; and  so, we have not deviated from that. We just needed to agree on the final details which was done courtesy of the negotiations that started sometime in December 2019.

"The highlights are pretty simple and straight forward and going by the circular we received from the National Salary Based Income and Wages Commission in Abuja which highlighted the new minimum wage and the consequential adjustments, the state government has implemented same.

"Essentially, the salary structure is broken down in which ministry or area a civil servant falls into; and we have adhered to what we received from Abuja.

"We will be implementing the minimum wage and paying two months arrears of the minimum wage effective from the 1st of November 2019 and we agreed that it will take a little time for the implementation so the actual payment will take effect from January 2020," Mr Ebie said.

He disclosed that the new minimum wage would increase the state wage bill with about N700 million and urged the state workforce to always put in their best.

Chairman and Chief negotiator of the organized labour, Comrade Goodluck Oforbruku in his speech thanked the governor for keeping to his word.

"Let me use this opportunity to thank Governor Okowa for keeping to his words and promises that he made that whatever the federal government agreed, that he would implement.

"At the end of January 2020, we will receive the new minimum wage with one month arrears and in the month of February, the remaining arrears will be paid.

"We want to assure the state government that workers in Delta will continue to support government programmes and put in their best to ensure effective delivery of a stronger Delta."

Chairman of Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Martins Bolum also thanked the state government for being the first in the two congruous regions to implement the new minimum wage.

"We want to thank Governor Okowa for making it possible for Delta to be the first state in the whole of South East and South-South to implement the minimum wage.

"As at yesterday (Thursday January 9), only 5 states have implemented and Delta is the 6th state to implement the minimum wage in the country; we got positive reactions and encouragement from the workers of Delta while the negotiation was on."

At the signing of the agreement were the Head of Service, Mr. Reginald Bayoko, Commissioner for Finance Mr. Fidelis Tilijie, representatives of different trade unions among others.





Deltans Celebrate Okowa On Supreme Court Ruling


A chieftain of the People Democratic Party (PDP) in Ward Nine, Aniocha North Local Government Area of Delta State, Chief Jude Baadi, has said the victory of Sen. Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa at the Supreme Court, Wednesday, in Abuja is a confirmation of the universal acknowledgment of the leadership quality and total mandate given to the governor by the people of Delta State.

The Supreme Court judgment on Wednesday in Abuja confirmed the earlier ruling of the election petition tribunal sitting in Asaba and Appeal Court sitting in Benin-City; both dismissing the petition of Great Ogboru of All Progressives Congress (APC), challenging the election of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa in the March 9 2019 governorship election.

Chief Baadi said in his congratulatory message to the governor that he was never disturbed at the petitions of Great Ogboru, because he knew that Governor Okowa roundly won the election.

“We the good people of Idumuje-unor do heartily congratulate our Action Governor, Sen. Dr. Arthur Okowa, on his deserved victory at the Supreme Court. We have always known that falsehood can never overshadow truth. God will continually guide you as you are bringing dividends of Democracy to bear. Once again, congratulations,” Chief Jude Baadi said in his congratulatory message to the governor.

He noted that with the confirmation of his victory, the governor would now be free from all distractions, adding that his continued implementation of wealth creation for all Deltans and for a stronger Delta would benefit everyone.
Chief Baadi also commended the governor for the unprecedented peace prevailing in all parts of the state in the past five years which he said qualifies Delta for sundry investment and economic growth.

“However you are doing it which has made Delta the most peaceful state in the country in the past five years, as recently acknowledged by the Nigerian Guild of Editors, continue your good work,” Chief Baadi said in his statement.

He added that he shared the victory with the governor, not only as a chieftain of the ruling party, but also recalling that his town, Idumuje-Unor, was also voted as the most peaceful community in the state by the same Nigerian Guild of Editors.





2020 Will Engender Sustainable Development - Okowa

  • Commends SSG at 49


GOVERNOR of Delta State, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa has expressed optimism that the New Year, 2020, will be characterized by sustainable development as the state government remains irrevocably committed to the ‘Stronger Delta vision.’

The governor stated this in his New Year Message to the people of the state, urging them to remain united and focused on the course of developing the state, irrespective of ethnic, religious or political differences.

He also commended the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) Mr. Chiedu Ebie who marked 49 years old last Thursday January 2.

In the New Year message as contained in a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Olisa Ifeajika, in Asaba last Tuesday, Okowa felicitated with Deltans and all Nigerians as they stepped into the New Year while expressing gratitude to God for the grace granted Delta and its citizens in the previous year.

While praying for unity, peace and development in the state, which he noted as the pillar of his Stronger Delta vision, he urged the people to remain supportive to government.

“I am optimistic of a Stronger Delta in 2020, because of the support I enjoy from the legislature, the judiciary, the civil service, traditional and religious leaders and my team of political appointees,” the statement quoted the governor as saying.

“Other sources of strength to us are agencies of government, both at the federal and the state levels, multilateral donor agencies and most importantly, our trust and belief in God.

"Being one of the first states to sign our 2020 Budget into law, we are prepared for the onerous task of governance, for we are already set to commence budget implementation with the New Year.

“This has given me and the state the advantage of early starters, both in the appreciation of what Deltans expect from their government and in the development of solutions to meet such expectations.

“Furthermore, our administration recorded successes in the last five years because God was in control and it is my hope that 2020 will be a year of fulfillment for all Deltans as the state remains on the right trajectory to sustainable development.

“In the last five years, we have seen the hand of God in our dear state; all that we did were made possible by God; and as a people we have every reason to thank God and I can confidently say that we have seen the hand of God at work in our state.

“So, let us look up to the New Year with the same zeal of a people with a capacity to excel even in difficult situations.

"On behalf of my family, the government and people of Delta, I wish you all a very prosperous New Year ahead," Okowa said in his New Year Message to the people of Delta.

In another development, the governor congratulated the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) Mr. Chiedu Ebie, who marked 49 years on Thursday, January 2.

The governor noted that Ebie, a former Commissioner of Basic and Secondary Education, was an illustrious Deltan, whom he said, was ever committed to the good governance, growth and development of the state.

The governor thanked Ebie for his outstanding contributions to governance in Delta as Secretary to the State Government. 

He urged the SSG to sustain his contributions to humanity by developing further ideas that would lead to the efficiency and effectiveness of governance and sustainable development of the state. 

He also noted that Ebie, an astute lawyer, oil and gas executive, entrepreneur and a public servant, had a distinguished career in the private sector spanning over two decades.

The governor also lauded the technocrat-turned politician for his sound knowledge of governance and his outstanding accomplishments in private and public service.

"With his core competence in strong leadership and execution skills, Mr. Ebie has brought his wealth of experience to bear by playing pivotal roles in the administration of the state,” said the governor.

"Mr. Ebie has continued to blaze the trail by providing and offering leadership at various levels of governance in the state.

“Over the years, you have, by dint of hard-work and discipline, established yourself with an unblemished leadership style as an industry player which has endeared you to many Deltans and Nigerians.

"As Secretary to State Government, you have exhibited absolute grasp of your core responsibilities by your sound coordination of government in the state.

"As a government, we appreciate your role and astute contributions in the area of sports by revamping Zenith Bank-Delta Principal's and Headmaster's Cup under your tenure as Commissioner of Basic and Secondary Education. 

“On behalf of the government and people of Delta, I congratulate you, my dear brother and friend, Mr. Chiedu Ebie, on the occasion of your 49th birth anniversary.

“At 49, your family and indeed, your political and business associates and admirers have cause to be grateful to Almighty God for having granted you a life of great accomplishments and abiding fulfillment,” the governor stated.





CAN, Okowa, Greet Nigerians On Christmas; Condemn Attack On GEJ


CHRISTMAS is beyond eating and drinking, says Rev. Samson Ayokunle, President, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), believing that all that is required is persevere and prayer towards emancipation.

In his Christmas message in Abuja, Tuesday, CAN president noted that there might be weeping but for the faithful, joy comes in the morning.”

Part of the statement issued by his media spokesman, Pastor Bayo Oladeji, reads as follows:
“It is the celebration of Emmanuel, God who is with us. Christmas is also the celebration of the Word (which) became flesh and dwelt among us and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. His birth was a sign from God.

“I want every Nigerian to know that our present challenges will be the springboard for our full joy of Christmas.”

In a similar vein, Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, urged Christians all over the world to rekindle their love for Christ by renewing the virtues of peace, love and sacrifice, which Jesus Christ epitomized in his earthly teachings.

The governor made the call in his Christmas message to Nigerians, especially Deltans, signed by his Chief Press Secretary (CPS), Mr. Olisa Ifeajika, on Tuesday in Asaba.

He noted that Christmas was a celebration to mark the birth anniversary of the Lord and saviour, Jesus Christ; thus calling on Christians to emulate wholly, the virtues of Christ.

The message reads in part:
"As the world celebrates Christmas, the birth of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, on behalf of the government and people of Delta, I congratulate all Christians for witnessing yet another Christmas season.

"I advise all Christian faithful to use the festive period for sober reflection and total spiritual renewal and devotion toward living in peace and harmony with adherents of other religions.

“As we celebrate, we should continue to extend hands of love and fellowship to our neighbours and live as one big family, irrespective of our social, political and religious leanings, and continue to trust God for a better tomorrow and a greater country.

"I urge Christians all over the world to use the yuletide to be Christ-like by sharing love and giving joy to neighbours in line the injunctions of our Lord.

"Whether in business, politics, religion or ethnic considerations, we must show love to one another as humans as no religion encourages violence or preaches evil against humanity.”

 "We must discourage violent conflicts and remember the love, peace and sacrifice that Jesus Christ epitomized.

"We cannot move forward as a country until we all realize that we are first Nigerians before our religious beliefs, political leanings and cultural affiliations and as such, we must show respect for one another by living in peace.

“If we love one another as Christ taught us, the issues of communal and religious clashes, armed robbery, kidnapping, militancy, armed banditry, terrorism and other vices will not arise.

"It is only in the atmosphere of peace that development can take place and as Christians we must use this period to pray for greater peace, love, unity, peaceful co-existence and progress of our country."

In another statement by the CPS, governor Okowa condemned the Tuesday attack on former President Goodluck Jonathan, wondering the motive of the attackers on a peaceful leader. Okowa noted like many others that the attack was most condemnation, noting peaceful political leaning of Jonathan.

“I join men of goodwill in condemning the attack on former President Goodluck Jonathan, who has been a great patriot and exemplary leader.

"It is pathetic and shameful that unknown gunmen could attack a leader who had on several occasions said his 'ambition was not worth the blood of any Nigerian'.

"On behalf of the government and people of Delta, I condemn the attack on our dear former President.

"I also commiserate with him on the unfortunate demise of a gallant soldier who lost his life in the attack.

"I call on the police and other security agencies to fish out those behind the attack and bring them to justice. 

"I also urge the Federal Government to beef up security around the former Nigerian leader," Okowa said.



Okowa Commends Mrakpor Tackling Environmental Challenges

By Ugo Kido


DELTA State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa has commended Mrs. Onyemaechi Mrakpor, director-general of Delta State Capital Territory Development Agency (DSCTDA) over her commitment in giving the state’s capital a befitting look.

The governor made the observation last Tuesday while on an inspection tour of ongoing storm water drainage and road construction projects around the State capital.

Accompanied by some other government officials including state’s commissioner of Works, Chief James Augoye, the governor noted the various construction work going on and said he was impressed.

“I must appreciate the Delta State Capital Territory Development Agency and its Director General, Mrs. Onyemaechi Mrakpor because a lot of work has been carried out by the agency to sanitize the environment, " Okowa acknowledged.

He appealed to residents of the capital territory to cooperate with the agency in order to enjoy living in the capital territory.
"I must appeal to our people to cooperate with the agency in its bid to give us a more befitting capital territory where we can be proud of; especially when it is where we live as there are some environmental concerns that have to be addressed and the agency has stepped up to intervene and I appreciate the work that the agency and its officers are doing,” the governor said.

Among other projects which he inspected are the ongoing construction of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Secretariat in Asaba, storm water drainage projects at the Asaba General Hospital, Okotomi Quarters, Ejiro Adegor Street and Ralph Uwechue Way. Others include the extension of Okpanam Road Dual carriage lanes and its adjoining streets; Prince Ikechukwu Iyeke Way, Lady Ginika Monye Road as well as the feeder roads and parking lots within the premises of the Asaba General Hospital.

The governor assured that the facilities at the Asaba General Hospital would be commissioned in the first quarter of next year.
Governor Okowa noted that due to the level of ongoing construction work, there was the need to ensure that the environment remained clean.

"I must say that I am very impressed with what I have seen and I can now also say categorically that we are having value for the money we are spending in terms of storm water control and road constructions".

“When we approve projects in Exco, you do not know how extensive the projects could be, until go on site to see the massive construction projects going on across the capital territory and its environs,
"We as a government will continue to do the best that we can, because infrastructure development is a very critical sector for the economy and growth  of the state; and I think that the contractors are doing very well,” the governor noted.




NPS Suspends 8 Over Death Of Inmates


THE Board of Civil Defence, Correctional, Fire and Immigration Services has announced its approval for the suspension of officials of the Nigerian Correctional Service arising from the recent death of five inmates of the Ikoyi Medium Security Custodial Centre.

 A statement released on Friday in Abuja by the Public Relations Officer of the Correctional Service, Francis Enobore, said the indicted officers were placed on suspension pending the determination of the Discipline and General Purpose Committee of the Board.

Enobore recalled that the Controller General of the Service, Jafa’aru Ahmed had earlier visited the scene of the incident and ordered an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident with a view to taking necessary actions to forestall future reoccurrence.

The NPS had earlier confirmed the death of five inmates while seven others were wounded in an electrical accident which occurred last Monday December 2.

But observers are saying that the instituted investigation is unnecessary, given that NPS is aware of the actual cause of the sad incident.

Observers are also saying that indicting any officer of the Centre is sweeping dirt under the carpet and does not remove the fact that the government neglected its responsibility to justice system.

Part of the statement issued after the incident on Monday by the NPS gives a true picture. It reads “As of the time of the incident, Ikoyi Medium Security Custodial Center built in 1955 for 800 inmates, had a population of 3,113 with 2,680 as awaiting trial persons. The particular cell where the disaster occurred has a capacity for 35 but held 140 inmates,” said the statement issued by NPS.

Given the nature of the described Cell, which observers noted as an example of the nature of the remand centres in the country, it is feared that fatality could be worse in any future incident if urgent steps are not taken to overhaul the nation’s prisons.





Nigerian Prisons Confirms Death Of Five Inmates


NIGERIAN Prisons Service (NPS) has said five inmates died while some others wounded in the electrical accident which occurred at Ikoyi Prison last Monday. A statement signed on behalf of NPS Controller General, Ja’afaru Ahmed, by the Information Officer at Ikoyi Prisons, Francis Enobore, said besides the five casualties, seven other inmates were injured and receiving treatment.

“Early this morning, the Controller General of Corrections, Ja’afaru Ahmed, received with the deepest grief, the unfortunate death of five inmates of Ikoyi Medium Security Custodial Centre, Lagos, as a result of an electrical fault in one of the cells. This is indeed tragic and most ill-fated.

"The CG, who visited the scene of the incident with the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, noted that it was the first time in the history of the NCoS to experience such a disaster. He, therefore, ordered an immediate investigation into the sad incident with a view to taking necessary actions in order to forestall future occurrence.

“He commiserated with the families of the deceased inmates and prayed for quick recovery of the seven others that are receiving treatment in the hospital.

“The CG wishes to assure members of the public that inmates’ safety and humane custody will continue to be a priority in his administration. He further restates his commitment to pursue the policy thrust of the Federal Government at improving the general welfare of inmates with the deserved fervour.

“As of the time of the incident, Ikoyi Medium Security Custodial Center built in 1955 for 800 inmates, had a population of 3,113 with 2,680 as awaiting trial persons. The particular cell where the disaster occurred has a capacity for 35 but held 140 inmates.”

Critics have repeatedly lamented that despite past prisons reforms, Nigerian prisons and remand cells are far below international standards.









Controversy over who defends Airpeace boss


There appeared a controversy, Wednesday, over who has the authority among lawyers to defend Airpeace boss, Mr. Allen Onyema.

A firm of attorneys, A.O Alegeh & Co, purportedly acting on behalf of the Airpeace boss, Allen Onyema, Wednesday, issued a statement on behalf of the aviation chief saying Onyema did not authorize the filing of any suite before a Federal High Court in Abuja restraining the Federal Government of Nigeria from extraditing him to the United States of America to face charges on fraud and money laundry as alleged.

A rights activist and constitutional lawyer, Johnmary Jideobi, had earlier filed a suite at a Federal High Court in Abuja, asking it to bar the Federal Government of Nigeria from granting any extradition request on the embattled Airpeace boss, arising from his recent indictment by some authorities of the United States of America.

Jideobi argued that Onyema cannot be extradited over “civil aviation contracts (into which) his duly registered companies entered with other duly registered companies in the USA.”

But A.O Alegeh & Co, in a statement issued on Wednesday, said that the suit no. FHC/ABJ/CS/1446/2019 filed before a federal high court in Abuja by Jideobi was instituted without the consent of Onyema.

The statement reads in part, “The attention of our client, Allen Onyema has been drawn to news reports now trending in the social media suggesting that an Abuja based Legal Practitioner, Mr. Johnmary C. Jideobi, has instituted an action in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/1446/2019 – Johnmary C. Jideobi v. Federal Government of Nigeria & Ors at the Federal High Court, Abuja Division, purportedly seeking the enforcement of our client’s fundamental human rights.

“We hereby state on behalf of our client, that at no time did he instruct the said Mr. Johnmary C. Jideobi to institute any action on his behalf in respect of the subject matter of the Indictment now pending against him in the United States of America. Our Client has no knowledge of the said action and did not consent to the filing of same. As a matter of fact, Our Client does not know the said Mr. Johnmary C. Jideobi.”

It is conversely not clear which attorney has the instruction of Onyema to act on his behalf.

American authorities recently indicted Onyema for fraud and money laundry, but some Nigerian patriots saw it as American vengeance reaction to Airpeace’s recent success in displacing some American airlines in parts of Africa and the Middle East.

Some critics are, however, saying that sentiment or hype should be removed; asking Onyema to freely attend any foreign or local court to clear himself.




Rights Lawyer Applies For Restraint On Airpeace Boss


A Nigerian human rights lawyer, John-Mary Jideobi, has filed a stoppage suite at a Federal High Court in Abuja, asking it to bar the Federal Government of Nigeria from granting any extradition request on the embattled boss of Air Peace, Mr. Allen Onyema, arising from his recent indictment by some authorities of the United States of America.

American authorities recently indicted Onyema for fraud and money laundry, but some Nigerian patriots saw it as American vengeance reaction to Onyema’s recent success in displacing some American airlines in parts of Africa and the Middle East.

Jideobi is arguing that Onyema cannot be extradited over “civil aviation contracts (into which) his duly registered companies entered with other duly registered companies in the USA.”

The lawyer is seeking a court declaration that “the Federal Government of Nigeria and or any of its agencies with prosecutorial powers as represented by the Respondent herein is/are without powers to abridge the fundamental right of Allen Ifechukwu Athan Onyema, Esq. to freedom of movement as donated by Section 35 of the amended 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

 “A declaration of this Honourable Court that on the authority of Diamond Bank PLC vs. Opara (2018) LPELR-43907(SC) the Federal Government of Nigeria and or any of its agencies with prosecutorial powers as represented by the Respondent herein cannot derogate from the constitutional right of Allen Ifechukwu Athan Onyema, Esq. to freedom of movement by attempting to forcefully expel and or extradite Allen him from the shores of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to any other country of the world for the purposes of any criminal trial whose substance arose from underlying civil aviation contracts.

“A declaration of this Honourable Court that on the authority of Diamond Bank PLC vs. Opara (2018) LPELR-43907(SC) the Federal Government of Nigeria and or any of its agencies with prosecutorial powers as represented by the Respondent herein cannot give effect to any extradition request from any country of the world in so far as the ingredients or constituent facts of the indictment and or charges underlying the said request are traceable to or related with or arose from diverse civil aviation contracts entered into by Allen IfechukwU Athan Onyema, Esq. through his duly registered companies with other duly registered companies in other jurisdictions especially in the United States of America.

“An order of this Honourable Court perpetually barring the Federal Government of Nigeria and or any of its agencies with prosecutorial powers as represented by the Respondent herein either by themselves, their servants, privies, assigns or any other person or authority acting either in concert with them, on their behalf or under them from giving effect to any extradition request from any country of the world in so far as the ingredients or constituent facts of the indictment and or charges underlying the said request are traceable to or related with or arose from diverse civil aviation contracts entered into by Allen Ifechukwu Athan Onyema, Esq. through his duly registered companies with other duly registered companies in other jurisdictions especially in the United States of America.

“An order of this Honourable Court perpetually barring the Federal Government of Nigeria and or any of its agencies with prosecutorial powers as represented by the Respondent herein either by themselves, their servants, privies, assigns or any other person or authority acting either in concert with them, on their behalf or under them from attempting to use or seeking to use harass, threaten to arrest, inviting and or arresting the Applicant in relation with the civil contract he mutually entered into through his duly registered companies with other aviation companies especially in the United States of America or anything connected thereto. As well as,

“An order of this Honourable Court barring the Federal Government of Nigeria and or any of its agencies with prosecutorial powers as represented by the Respondent herein either by themselves, their servants, privies, assigns or any other person or authority acting either in concert with them, on their behalf or under them from giving effect to any extradition request from any country of the world especially the United States of America anchored on Exhibit US1 or any other indictment or charges reflecting in substance similar facts as contained in the said Exhibit US1”.

Cited as the sole respondent in the suit, FHC/ABJ/CS/1446/2019, is the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).




Buhari Oders Arrest Of Killers Of PDP Women Leader


PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the Police to fish out the killers of opposition PDP women leader in Kogi State.

Late Salome Acheju Abuh burnt alive on Monday November 18 in her house allegedly ignited by a group of APC election victory celebrants in her country home of Ochadamu-Ofu, Kogi State, north central Nigeria.

President Buhari in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Chief Femi Adesina in Abuja on Sunday vowed that the killers would not escape justice.

The statement reads in part: “The President decries whatever could spur anyone to take the life of another human being, particularly a woman, who was burnt to death in her home in the most gruesome manner.
“President Buhari charges all security agencies involved in the investigation to do a thorough and expeditious job on the matter so that justice could be served without fear or favor.
“We must learn to behave decently, whether during elections or at other times. No life should be taken wantonly under any guise, and the fact that this reprehensible act occurred two days after voting shows primitive behavior, which should not be accepted in a decent society.
“Such evildoers must be brought to justice, irrespective of whatever allegiances they hold,” President Buhari said.

Before now many had condemned the killing of Abuh describing it as inhuman. PDP caucus in the Senate had, mid week, called on the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, to produce the killers of Abuh.

The group led by Senate Minority leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe said they were “worried about the trend of what happened in those elections.”

Police in Kogi are quoted as saying that the killers were on reprisal attacks after the killing of a member of APC supporters, who were celebrating the victory of Governor Bello Yahaya two days after the November 16 governorship elections in the state. The reported acknowledgment seemed to have supported popular condemnation of the election which monitors said was fraught with barbaric violent scenes.




Edo, APC House of Babbles, Running Familiar Drain


THE last is not yet heard about Edo State, South-south Nigeria and the ruling All Progressives’ Congress (APC), perhaps until the governorship elections set for early next year is over in Edo. From the Government House, its House of Assembly down to All Progressives’ Congress (APC), are in tatters.

No one seems able to stitch them now, perhaps, because all seeks power which may eventually remain illusory and sadly elusive. Bad signals are also from Bayelsa State, where another governorship election is holding this weekend. If by Friday APC is not able to resolve the banning of its deputy governorship candidate, it is most likely losing Bayelsa to another party, possibly its major rival, the PDP.

While chieftains of APC babbles over Oshiomhole, PDP recovered Adamawa State, home to former vice president Atiku Abubakar and a major challenger to President Muhammadu Buhari in the last February 23 presidential election. The party has also recovered Imo and Bauchi states; made successful inroad in Zamfara and reaffirmed its hold in Rivers State. APC has also continued to quake in Ondo, Ogun and Anambra states. While PDP seems to rise up gradually, the storm which capsized the party shortly before 2015 general elections is taking a reverse to APC.

In Edo State, almost everybody in the leadership of the state’s chapter of the party is suspended. On Tuesday, a group or faction of the party loyal to the governor, Godwin Obaseki, announced the suspension of the membership of the national chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole. Same day, another faction, loyal to Oshiomhole retaliated and announced the suspension of the governor and many others who are loyal to him.

APC governors who felt it is time to demand a pound of flesh on Oshiomhole requested for his resignation if he could not convene a NEC meeting of the party. At the same time, regional leadership of the party in South-south restated their support for Oshiomhole.

During the Ali Modu Sheriff crisis in PDP, the party was not as scattered as this, yet could not survive the vagaries of odd-time test for power.

Perhaps, the trend has become a tradition for democracy in Nigeria. Observers say it is a sign for jungle juggle for alignment towards producing President Buhari's sucessor far away 2023.


Edo APC suspends Oshiomhole, crisis depeens ahead 2020 gov election

13.11.19. 3.10am

Crisis rocking the ruling All Progressive Party (APC) in Edo State, South-south Nigeria deepened, Tuesday, with the announcement of suspension of the party’s national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, who hails from the state.

According to a statement issued on Tuesday by the party in the state, Oshiomhole was suspended for an alleged role he allegedly played in the crisis rocking the state’s chapter of the party.

According to the communiqué signed by the party’s state chairman and assistant scribe, Anselm Ojezua and Ikuenobe Anthony respectively, the decision to suspend Oshiomhole was taken after a meeting of the council chairman of the party in the 18 local council areas of the state. It reads in part:

 “Consequent on the development, the State Executive Committee has adopted the vote of no confidence passed on him and the subsisting suspension order from the organs of the party in the state.
“Comrade Adams Oshiomhole is the one behind the crisis in Edo APC. We have passed a vote of no confidence in him and he stands suspended from the party.
“We don’t want what happened in Zamfara State or other parts of the country to happen in Edo State,” the statement reads.

The national leadership of the party under Oshiomhole fell apart with many leaders in various states across the six geo-political zones of the country shortly before the primaries to 2019 general elections. While some state leaders preferred indirect primaries, National Executive Committee of the party opted for general primaries, hoping it would curtail traditional allegations of imposition of candidates which rocked some parties in previous elections.

The decision did not go down well with some state governors which included Imo, Zamfara and Ogun states. Zamfara State which insisted on going its way had its candidates for the 2019 elections rejected by INEC and upheld by a court ruling.

In Imo State where former Governor Rochas Okorocha insisted on producing a successor in his son-in-law contrary to the position of the national leadership and some state chieftains of the party, there was protest voting pattern during the elections. APC lost the governorship election to PDP. Though Okorocha was elected to the senate, INEC withheld his certificate until a court order.
Though Oshiomhole has maintained his preference for internal democracy, he is seen by many chieftains of his party across some states as playing a stooge to a presidential aspirant for 2023. For instance, Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State before the March 9 governorship elections, accused Oshiomhole of collaborating with what he described as “a Lagos-based cabal” to influence the primaries in favour of a political interest group outside Ogun.

Despite the opposition in some states, some regional executives of the party said they would continue to support the programmes of the party under the leadership of Oshiomhole. Some of them accused Oshiomole’s predecessor, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun of laying political landmine for Oshiomole in Edo State. Oyegun denied the allegation, describing it as a “statement of booby traps…ludicrous and infantile; an attempt to dream up justification for the failings of the party under Oshiomhole’s chairmanship.”
He added: “Oshiomhole fails because he lacks the temperament that is required to run a political party. He lacks the capacity to manage the different interests and tendencies that constitute a political party.”

Conversely, after the 2019 general elections, chairmen of the party in the six states of South-south met in Abuja and passed a vote of confidence on Oshiomhole.

However, among the signatories of the statement issuing the communiqué was Edo State chairman Anselm Ojezua, who also co-signed latest Tuesday’s statement of lack of confidence in Oshiomhole.

Apart from Oyegun, there exists a rift between Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, and Oshiomhole which has obviously divided party’s members’ loyalty between them. The situation is rocking the State’s House of Assembly. Nationa Assembly intervened but failed to find a lasting solution. They all playing out ahead governorship election in the state early next year.



Kaduna residents protest insecurity, lampoon lawmakers


RESIDENTS of Rigasa, southern Kaduna northwest Nigeria, Monday, passed a vote of ‘no confidence’ on their representatives at the state’s House of Assembly. This they did while protesting the high rate of kidnap in the community.

The protesters displayed various placards; some of the inscriptions read, ”End kidnapping in Rigasa and environment;” Stop kidnapping in Rigasa Community; ” and  ”Change Rigasa Policemen”.


The protest coincided with presentation of budget for 2020 by the State Commissioner Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan.

According to reports by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) the protesters were at the Kaduna State House of Assembly to seek the intervention of the lawmakers over the situation. Among them were 10 victims of kidnap.

“Our people are being kidnapped on a daily basis; some of the residents have fled their homes for fear of being kidnapped,” leader of the protesters, Shehu Sanusi, told the lawmakers.

According to him, more than 50 persons are currently in captivity, including a pregnant woman.

“Ten of the victims released are with us in this protest. None of these victims was released without a ransom, and we are tired.”

Sanusi noted that the community has been abandoned to face their problems alone in spite of the fact that they have representatives in the Assembly.

“No member of the House of Assembly has ever visited to commiserate with us.

“We thank the governor for coming to visit, but no member of the Assembly as our representatives visited to show concern or even speak about this problem in the media.

In quite a blunt language, they appreciated the state governor, Nasir El-Rufia but condemned what seems as political irresponsiveness on the part of the MPs who represent the constituency at the state’s House of Assembly.

“We voted you to represent us but you are sleeping at your homes comfortably.

“We are tired of this situation, you should please come to our aid,” he said.

The Speaker, Aminu Shagali assured the Rigasa community that the Assembly would take action to bring about a lasting solution to the problem.

Represented by the Deputy House Leader, Shehu Idris, the Speaker said the Assembly would invite various stakeholders to discuss the security situation and proffer solutions.

Shagali pleaded with the protesters to be patient, adding that a larger meeting with some members of the community will be convened by the assembly on the matter.

Kaduna, about 200km from Abuja, the nation’s capital city, has been under siege of bandits and kidnappers in the past years besides spates of ethnic violence in parts of the state.




Nigeria's Supreme Court affirms Buhari's election; PDP awaits God's ruling


NIGERIA’s Supreme Court on Wednesday, in a paragraph judgment, dismissed the appeal filed by the country’s major opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar. They had gone to court after the February 23 presidential election challenging the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad, who led six other members of the court’s panel, delivered the judgment but did not give details. Justice Muhaamad said the panel had studied the appeal documents and exhibits and found the appeal lacking in merit. Other six members of the panel concurred with him. He added that details would be given on a latter date yet unfixed.

In another development, Court of Appeal in Sokoto southwest Nigeria same Wednesday upheld the appeal petition by Senator Ibrahim Danbaba and Balarabe Kakale thus returned them as senator and member of House of Representatives, respectively.

Also with short verdicts, read by Justice Frederick Oho, the Appeal Court said the appeals filed by the two former PMs, both of PDP, succeeded.  Justice Oho said details of the judgment would be given later.

The judge nullified an earlier judgments delivered by Sokoto State Election Petitions Tribunal which dismissed the appellants’ petitions in favor of the respondents who are All Progressives Congress candidates.

Before the 2019 elections, Ibrahim Danbaba and Balarabe Kakale were members of the National Assembly representing Sokoto South Senatorial District and Bodinga/Dange-Shuni/Tureta Federal Constituency respectively, but lost to APC candidates Abubakar Shehu-Tambuwal and Aliyu Shehu, respectively.

Last Tuesday, the Appeal Court also ordered a fresh election in Sokoto North/Sokoto South Federal Constituency, following an appeal petition filed by Abubakar Abdullahi of PDP challenging the election of Bala Hassan of APC.

The Court ordered Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct the election within 90 days..

However, PDP’s national chairman, Uche Secondus, has issued a statement through his media aide, Ike Abonyi, saying even though the Supreme Court affirmed Buhari’s election; God would give the final judgment.

 “Nigerians know that you voted PDP, even APC knows that you rejected them on February 23, 2019.
“International community knows you voted for PDP. If Supreme Court of seven justices says otherwise, leave it to God, the ultimate Judge,” the statement said.



Nigeria's Immigration Boss Defends Border Closure


NIGERIA’S Immigration boss, Mohammed Babandede has, again, defended his country’s border closure with neighbouring West African states, Benin and Niger, saying it was not aimed to paralyze economic activities within the sub-region but to protect Nigeria’s national security.

Speaking at the weekend during the graduation ceremony of officers of the Nigeria Immigration Service at the Immigration Training School in Kano State, Babandede noted that no country in the world allows people and goods to enter into its country freely without valid documents. He added that the closure was to ensure success of security checks being carried out by some security agencies in the country.

“What we are saying is obvious: the land borders have been closed partially because of the operation ‘Swift Response’ being coordinated by the office of the National Security Adviser, which I said, is of great security and economic benefit to Nigeria.
“No country in the world would allow people and products to enter into its territory through any available routes and without valid travel documents.”
 “Immigration has allowed through the approval of Mr. President in order to ease the tension for the people that both our citizens and non-Nigerians can enter and leave Nigeria only through a recognized immigration control post and they cannot leave without a travel document,” Babandede explained.

Nigeria’s Finance minister, Zainab Mohammed, had explained at last week that the partial closure of the nation’s borders with Niger and Benin was to enforce ban on certain importation of commodities and arms into the country to avoid crippling the economy of Nigeria. Groups and authorities within the West African sub-region last week condemned Nigeria’s action, saying it negated trade agreements within the sub-region.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has urged a speedy resolution of issues which caused the closure.

It however backed Nigeria’s closure of its borders even if it were only issues bording on illegal trade.

At the weekend, Director of the African Department at the IMF Abebe Selassie answering questions at a media briefing on the sidelines of the World Bank/IMF Annual Meetings in Washington DC said although free trade was critical to the economic growth of the continent, it must be done within the ambit of law and agreement.
 “On the border closure in Nigeria which has been imparting Benin and Niger, our understanding is that the action reflects concerns about smuggling that has been taking place. It is about illegal trade, which is not what you want to facilitate,’’ Selassie said.
 “We are very hopeful that discussions will resolve the challenges that this illegal trade is posing.
“If the border closure is to be sustained for a long time, it will definitely have an impact on Benin and Niger which, of course, rely quite extensively on the big brother next door,’’ he added.

Nigerian Military authorities believed that while the country enjoy cooperation from Cameroon and Chad over security; banditry, terrorism and illegal arms smuggled into Nigeria through the closed international borders have worsened security situation in the largest West African country, particularly northwest and northeastern parts of the country where insurgency and banditry are heightened in the past decade..





Flooding; Delta Set To Demolish Unapproved Buildings


ARISING from perennial flooding and congestions in Asaba, Warri and other emerging urban towns in Delta State, south-south Nigeria; the State Government resolved, Monday, to demolish the shanties and illegal buildings in the affected areas.

The government confirmed its resolve at a joint press session attended by its Environment Commissioner, Mr. Chris Onogba; Information Commissioner, Mr. Charles Aniagwu; Director General of Asaba Capital City Development Agency, Mrs. Joan Mrakpor; Chairman of Waste Management Board, Mr. Emmanuel Chinye; and Director General of Bureau for Orientation, Mr. Eugene Uzum.

The exercise which will commence coming Monday will be carried out by the state’s sanitization task force in conjunction with officials of Federal Environment and Road Management Agency (FERMA)

Onogba said a-21-day public notice which was publicly issued to all those who had shanties and illegal structures on major roads to remove them had expired. He reiterated that government would go ahead in cleaning the environment in solving health and flood-related problems.

Chairman of the State Waste Management Board, Mr. Emmanuel Chinye warned that the Taskforce would enforce the rules with neither fear nor favour; reiterating that constructions which had no approval would be pulled down.

Flooding has been a perennial problem in Delta and many other parts of the country, largely due to poor drainage and improper waste management.

Since 2012, it has produced varying experiences ranging from nightmares, displacement of families, to loss of life-time savings and sometimes outright death of hundreds.

Early in July this year, some victims woke up midnight only to find young members of their families drowned in pools of strange floods submerging their living rooms and other household.

It was like a nightmare to Reginald Kombra, a resident of Nkpolu-Rumuigbo in Obio-Akpor local council area of River State, who lost 18months daughter to flood in July this year.

“On that fateful night, yes, it was 4th of July, around three o'clock,” Reginald recalled, “I felt unusually cold in bed; I woke up only to notice that my mattress was soaked; I sat up immediately but only found my feet in a strange pool of water above my knees. I rushed to the children's room; found two of my children completely submerged in the flood. One of them later died in the hospital.”

She was not alone. Mr. Israel Maduabuchi, a trader, fled the community same night with members of his family, fearing a repeat of last year's experience when he lost two children to flood. He returned the next day; his shop flooded, such wares as rice, beans and garri destroyed. Other stocks like kegs of palm and vegetable oils which water could not destroy were looted.
In Aniocha-North council area of Delta State where earth wells are used to store water round the year, some of the wells measuring 30ft deep overflowed while some others collapsed due to heavy rainstorm. In Idumuje-Unor, Mr. Agiliga Okwuechime was displaced for days by flood which sacked his entire household; 300kg of processed garri worth over 28000 naira, stored by his wife and ready for sale at the next market day, were all destroyed.

In the same town, a country home of a lawyer serving with the state's Ministry of Justice was also submerged in flood for days in July. 

Last year, Anambra, Benue, Delta and Kogi states experienced similar flooding. In September, four people were killed in Asaba, Delta State capital, by rainstorm while many houses in Warri, a coastal city south of the state, were submerged.
In Anambra, two churches belonging to Anglican Communion were submerged following three days of insistent downpour.
Benue State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) had to declare the state a flood risk zone after heavy rise in the volume of River Benue following days of unrelenting rainstorms.

The Incident Commander of National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) coordinating Delta and Anambra states, Mr. Walson Brandon told newsmen that three persons including an 11-year old boy were killed. According to him, the 11year old boy was drowned at Okpai in Ndokwa East Council Area of Delta State while two others were drowned in Asaba.

As in Benue, NEMA in Delta declared Oshimili South, Ndokwa East, Ughelli South, Patani, Burutu and Bomadi council areas as flood risk zones.

The state government eventually set up Internally Displaced People (IDP) camps to manage problems arising from flooding and other ecological disasters. The situation was deplorable requiring evacuation of victims, but some of the victims refused evacuation.

The governor of the state, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa insisted that if the danger persisted, force might be applied to evacuate the victims. “If we find out that the danger is still there, we will no longer plead; we will move them out forcefully.”

By middle of September situation actually escalated; health workers could no longer access the flooded areas to give assistance to victims who required medical attention. Outbreak of epidemics was predictable, making the government to forcefully evacuate them to IDP camps in the state capital.

“We could not access Oko-Anala because the entire road had been taken up by water,” Governor Okowa was quoted in a report. Relief workers had to pass through Onitsha in Anambra State to access the shut-in victims.

Previously, severe flooding was limited to coastal areas of the country, especially such coastal cities as Lagos, Warri, Makurdi and the environs due to surge in the volume of rivers and straits, the Lagoon in the case of Lagos. The 2012 and 2017 flood disasters were blamed, mainly, on the bailing of water at Lagdo Dam in Cameroon, a central African country stretching northeast and southeast of Nigeria. The executive director of National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) in Benue state,

Mr. Emmanuel Shior said “consistent heavy down pour” had been responsible for the situation in the past two years.
According to statics released by NEMA in April this year, rainstorm and flood disaster in 2018 was worse next to 2012 in 20 years. In 2012, a total number of 363 persons were killed, while 199 persons were killed last year in parts of the country. Over 600,000 people were displaced last year. In 2012, estimated 2.1 million people were displaced while seven million otherpersons lost various properties in 30 of the 36 states of the country.

Last year, a total number of 2,321,592 people were affected. According to NEMA's report, endorsed by its director-general, Mustapha Maihaja, last year's rainstorm was severe, damaging homes and farms in parts of the country.

“The damage to property and agriculture land was also massive. Over 100,190 houses were damaged and 382,368 crop farms destroyed. The flood also affected water, sanitation and hygiene facilities of the people,” said NEMA in its report.

By NEMA's statistics, 19,369 persons were displaced between May and August this year.

When signs of imminent rainstorm were visible in April this year, NEMA issued a forecast, warning it anticipated a repeat of 2018 experience. It however added that it was prepared for eventual flood through construction of barriers and drainages.
The Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) also in April made its forecast and presented its 2019 Annual Flood Outlook (AFO).

According to the director general of NIHSA, Mr. Clement Nze, the agency predicted that 600 out of the 744 local council areas in the country were under threat of flood in 2019. The best remedy, he warned, would be a halt to blocking water ways and urgent evacuation of the drainages.

“The issues here have been well articulated, no person should build structures within the flood plains, and people should clean their drainages,” Nze appealed.

Flood disaster in 2018 affected largely properties and residents around coastal areas as it arose mainly from river flooding and pockets of urban flooding, Nze observed.

The case this year is different as people living outside the coasts are major victims. “Urban flooding is caused by sudden rainfall of heavy amount for very short duration; the ground is unable to take in all of the torrential rain and begins to finds an escape. When the flood looks for a way to move and does not find any, it begins to pull down buildings and bridges,” said Nze.

Although the year is approaching a period of sparse rains, experts are of the view that prediction of flood cessation is difficult.
“It is not easy to predict urban flooding, it occurs suddenly mostly, but river flooding can be predicted to a high level of accuracy because of equipment along the river channels in Nigeria,'' said Nze.

In order to give a-nine-month support to 300,000 flood victims, described as “the most vulnerable people,” the Nigerian Red Cross about the month of August sought the sum of 5,425,000 Swiss francs. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) also launched an emergency appeal on behalf of the Nigerian Red Cross for the purpose.

The operation was aimed at providing shelter and relief items including cash support to victims described as most vulnerable.





MASSOB, Others, Oppose Return of Tolling On Highways


THE Federal Government of Nigeria is likely going to face stiff opposition over its resolve to return tolling at the federal highwayss across the country. The Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), Monday, joined other groups opposing the Government's move. MASSOB vowed to resist the Federal Government if it attempts to set up tollgates in the South-East.

MASSOB leader, Uchenna Madu, said the group would view it as an “occupation” of Igboland besides tolling being an agent of impoverishment of the people.

“We will not fold our hands and watch the Federal Government occupy Biafraland forcefully in the name of tollgates.

“Igboland and the entire Biafraland can never continue to be an experimental ground for  the exhibition of wickedness, malice, hatred, genocide, police extrajudicial killings, military terrorism, political subjugation and unprovoked massacre of innocent and harmless citizens.

“MASSOB condemns and insists that there will be no tollgates in Biafraland as wickedly proposed by the Nigeria government.
“MASSOB observes that the South-East with only five states has more tollgates (56) than the entire 19 northern states with only 35.

“The North that claims to have the largest population will pay the lowest of the toll charges,” the group said in a statement.

Last week, Power & Housing minister, Babatunde Fashola revealed Federal Government’s resolve to resume tolling on the highways in the country, arguing that there was no law abolishing the measure when it as abolished by Obasanjo administration 18 years ago. Many critics and interest groups also kicked against the measure arguing that it would worsen insecurity and gridlocks in most of the highways. Some argued that Federal Government ought to have effected massive repair on the highways before contemplating on tolling.






Kaduna School Girls' Kidnappers Ask For Ransom


BANDITS who kidnapped six female students and two teachers from their Engraver’s College in Kakau-Daji, Chikun Local Council Area of Kaduna State, northwest Nigeria have demanded ransom, Governor Nasir EL-Rufai of Kaduna State said on Friday.

Armed bandits seized the female students from their hostel last Thursday and abducted them to unknown location.

El-Rufai said the bandits had made “a demand for money.” He did not disclose the exact amount but rather said it was being negotiated.

An Abuja-based security operative told Courtly News that he suspected terror Group, Boko Haram for the incident even though no group has made any claim for the action.

“We have cut off all their supply routes; all the bank accounts linked to the terror group have been either frozen or blocked. So, they now depend on kidnap for ransom to be able to survive,” he said unofficially.

The officer doubted speculation that cattle herdsmen could be responsible. “That has been a common insinuation in the country, but I will be surprised if the bandits are traced outside Boko Haram. Those who finger Fulani Herdsmen are ignorant of actual security situation in the country. We are working on some unconfirmed clues, tracing major kidnaps in the country to Boko Haram. By the time we conclude investigations, IG (Inspector General of Police) will address the press,” the unofficial source at Police Public Relations Abuja said on phone.

Kidnap and banditry have been a huge security problem in Nigeria making the nation one of most volatile eight countries in the world.

The worst incidents often occur in northern parts of the country where terror group, Boko Haram, has been fighting in more than a decade.

For instance, the abduction in Kaduna came almost six years after a similar incident in Chibok, Borno State northeast Nigeria, in which 276 female students of Government Secondary School in the town were abducted.

About half of them were released after government had entered into negotiation with the terror group. About 100 of the abducted girls are yet to be accounted for.

The abducted Leah Sharibu from Dapchi town in Yobe State also northeast is still missing.
Hundreds of bandits operating in Zamfara State, northwest, recently surrendered their arms to the state government after months of negotiations.

Combined military, police, anti-kidnap, anti-cult and local vigilante groups form various security formations patrolling the nation’s highways and communities adjudged volatile even though kidnap and banditry remain a major security challenge in the country.



Akpabio connects, escapes EFCC's noose

ALTHOUGH former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Chief Godswill Akpabio, at last, regains political relevance as he becomes member of President Muhammadu Buhari’s cabinet, he had aimed to become the senate president which caused him defection from his former party, PDP to the federal ruling APC.

As the new minister of Niger Delta, Akpabio now wields relatively new power beyond his Akwa Ibom consistency and may increase the political structure of APC in south-south. This is the thinking of Bola Ahmed Tunubu, the party’s leader, aspiring for the presidency in the next general elections. Critics say it won’t work.  

The ninth Assembly of the Senate has begun without Akpabio, even while he sumptuously continues to dream occupying the lofty position of the senate president.

Before he was nominated by the president, critics saw him as a frustrated man and alleged he was making moves to return to his former part, the PDP, having failed to return to senate through the polls, but he denied it. A day before his reconciliation meeting with Rotimi Amaechi, he told newsmen at his Essien-Udim country-home that he had no regret defecting to APC, expressing delight at the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential polls.

“If anybody expects that I will feel bad, I will never feel bad; sometimes people don't understand that life is full of ups and downs. Life is not a straight line. If it is straight, it means you are dead,” he noted.

It is speculated Akpabio still hopes to return to the senate believing the election tribunal where he is challenging his loss at the polls might give him judgment.  Akpabio told newsmen at his Essien-Udim country home that “by the grace of God,” he would succeed at the tribunal. “I will continue from there no matter” whenever such judicial judgment might be given, he said. That was before he was appointed a minister anyway.

It has been a tortuous journey for Akpabio. Shortly before the last general elections, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), while attempting to gain more support in the South-South encouraged Akpabio to decamp to APC promising him Lawan's seat at the senate.

With the defection of former senate president, Bukola Saraki, APC had to work on Akpabio, persuading that he could become the senate president even before the 2019 polls, if he joined the ruling party. For Akpabio, it was a rosy package. A template for its actualization was worked out by the APC national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole. It was his first move after his election last year. His modus was to arrange impeachment of Saraki.

Akpabio grabbed the carrot. He was quick to meet President Buhari in London where the deal was sealed. For APC, the move became crucial at a time the political structures in the north which enhanced victory to Buhari in the 2015 polls crumbled.
After his election as the party's chairman, Oshiomhole in words of one of his former commissioners in Edo, “held a thought provoking meetings” with party chieftains, beginning with a southwest caucus loyal to APC national leader, Bola Tinubu in the latter's Lagos residence. “He told them that if we (APC) must win the 2019 presidential election, they (party leaders) should do something urgent to woo MPs from the old southeast into the party,” the former commissioner told

Oshiomhole is said to have continued the campaign to the presidency. Fishing MPs into APC from the south-east and south-south dominated his discussion with President Buhari. Oshiomhole is said to have suggested the impeachment of Saraki “to create an opportunity for any crowd-puller from the southeast.”

Deputy senate president Ike Ekweremadu was suggested by one of the chieftains present at Tinubu's residence meeting, but was ruled out by others who said the senator was difficult to approach. An aide to Ekweremadu confirmed his boss was approached by some APC chieftains but he declined. Akpabio became the next option.
“During his meeting with Oshiomhole in Abuja, orga was sceptical but an arrangement was made for his meeting with the President (Buhari) in London,” a former media aide to Akpabio told

At the London meeting, President Buhari is said to have assured Akpabio of every support for the senate president if he defected to the ruling party. “Orga told them that it was not a decision to be taken alone; and that he needed to consult his constituency,” said the aide. Akpabio eventually defected Wednesday August 9, 2018. In a huge rally held at the Ikot-Ekpene township stadium. In the usual defectors' language, Akpabio announced that he was joining the ruling party “to emancipate the people and provide succour” for them.

It was soft for him; even long before Akpabio defected, some among his former aides who served in his administration had crossed to APC. For instance, in April 2017 prominent members of PDP particularly in Esit-Eket council area of the state defected to APC. Among them were Senator Etang Umoyo; former members of the House of Representatives, Bassey Dan-Abia (Jnr.) and Eseme Eyiboh; a former Commissioner representing the state in the Niger Delta Development Commission, (NDDC) Imaobong Inyang; a retired Permanent Secretary, Mike Eyo and many others.

Apart from the projections of leaders of APC to capture South-South in the recent 2019 general elections, another crucial factor which compelled Akpabio to defect was his calculation that he might lose returning to the senate last June, noting that his political structure in the state had lost its pillars.

When Akpabio defected to APC at a time of threat to impeach Saraki, the picture was pre-emptive to Saraki's supporters in the senate. In order to stop Akpabio from taking over his seat, members of R-APC called on the senate president to declare Akpabio's seat vacant, arguing that there was no crisis in PDP to justify his defection to the ruling party in accordance with section 68 of the 1999 Constitution as amended.

“We are calling on the Senate President to invoke the provisions of section 68 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) in declaring the seat of Senator Godswill Akpabio vacant. It is not on record that there is division in the opposition PDP, hence this declaration will be a step in the right direction,” said the statement signed by the group's National Publicity Secretary, Prince Kassim Afegbua.

At the time, R-APC's alarm appeared inconsequentially panicky, noting that the intrigue was a normal trait in partisan politics for which Oshiomhole and Tinubu had dexterity. Before the elections, the duo never hid their resolve to organize a rebellion against Saraki albeit the fiasco to impeach him. If they had succeeded, Akpabio was promised becoming the beneficiary.
Some members of APC respected by Buhari were said to have told the president that the touted impeachment of Saraki was not in the interest of the party and that the time was too short for Akpabio to use the seat for election purposes. It was also alleged that Buhari fearing defeat at the polls was attempting to heat-up the polity to pave way for the military to take over. The president was not comfortable with the allegation. He thus cautioned proponents of the touted impeachment of Saraki.
Akpabio therefore had to wait until after the 2019 polls but it was obvious that his returning to the senate through the polls would not be an easy task. Before the elections, powers among his people said he was on his own.

For instance, same day as he was welcomed into APC, while the event was going on, Gov Emmanuel Udom's loyalists held counter rallies in Ikot-Ekpene. Loyalists of the returning governor held rallies across the Ikot-Ekpene Senatorial district to show solidarity with him and the PDP. The party loyalists who swarmed to Ritman College denounced Akpabio's defection as they affirmed their support for Udom. This is the same senatorial district as Akpabio expected to return him to the senate through the last polls.

Senator Emmanuel Ibok Essien, former deputy chief whip of the Senate said Akpabio did not have the support of his people. Ibok-Essien was the campaign manager of Akpabio's election to the senate in 2015.

He condemned Akpabio's decision and action leading to the withdrawal of the people's endorsement and support earlier given to Akpabio to return to Abuja this June.

“Udom Emmanuel will be returned (as governor) in 2019 (polls); not only Udom Emmanuel but all the PDP candidates in Akwa Ibom. I can never leave the PDP. I am appealing to all of you to remain in PDP. Since we heard that Akpabio was going to defect, it has been a shameful thing to us. But I am happy today because our people have been liberated from slavery,” Ibok-Essien told the crowd at the Ritman rally before the elections.

The national chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus also condemned the defection, saying that Akpabio needed to be pitied. “He deserves our pity because whatever would make somebody to choose bad instead of good is clearly one that should be prayed for, especially given the fact that wolves are waiting for his arrival to devour him.”

Critics alleged that Akpabio's defection to APC was not really to seek the senate presidency, but rather to seek shelter from prosecution by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Akpabio denied it. “I have never been charged to court. The EFCC did not find anything on me,” Akpabio said. Like many in the opposition party, Akpabio was hounded by the EFCC. It is not clear how it ended.

It is alleged that most of the former governors who defected to the ruling party did so to gain a shield against the anti-graft agencies. Critics are sarcastic that whether Akpabio, like some other former governors, has a corruption case to answer is now inconsequential as he is presently considered a driver in the federal government’s cabinet; confirming the cliché: those who join them will continue to enjoy anti-graft agencies’ compromise.


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