The Police in Enugu have arrested three people suspected of sexually defiling a three-year-old child in the state.
The arrest is said to be part of an ongoing investigation into the defilement of the girl, who is a pupil of Tenderlink School, Trans-Ekulu, Enugu.
The spokesman of the Enugu Police Command, DSP Daniel Ndukwe, disclosed that those arrested and facing interrogation, including a teacher in the school and two others.
“Preliminary investigation showed that the child (name withheld) was found to have been sexually defiled, with physical injuries and patches of blood observed on her private part, after the school bus dropped her at home on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2023.
“This is in addition to the receipt of similar complaints by parents of other children in the school.
“Three suspects, comprising the victim’s female teacher, the school’s bus attendant and driver have been arrested for interrogation,” he said.
Ndukwe added that the Commissioner of Police, Kanayo Uzuegbu, appreciated the state government’s decision to close the school pending when the investigation would be concluded.
He further assured that anyone found culpable would face the full wrath of the law.
Shettima, Kokori: ‘Nigeria Go Better’ [OPINION]
By Lasisi Olagunju
On the streets of Ibadan, there is an Aisha Suleiman from Kano State begging for alms. The about-22-year-old lady suffered a sudden divorce and everything around her collapsed. The only option she could thereafter think of was to move down south in search of hope – to do street begging. At a spot along the Ring Road in Ibadan, she sat helpless and confused, her vacant, teary eyes looking into the emptiness of today and the nothingness of tomorrow. “He divorced me for no reason; I guess my time in his house came to an end, that was why…But if my husband wants to take me back and he pays my bride price all over again and plans a wedding, then I will go back,” she told Saturday Tribune last month. Helplessness is her situation; surrender is the sole solution she could think of.
You could call her stupid – or even idiotic. But how is your own situation better than that of the worn-out lady on the street? Your leader warms up to you during every election. You vote him in and he pays you almost immediately with ejection. You cry and shed bitter tears. The next election makes him search for you again; and you fall into his arms and the beat goes on. So much has happened since 1999 – enough to make you and I lose hope in everything democracy- but, you know, there is really no other choice. We must always go back to our husbands for them to continue to toy with us. Stories that would make the stone-hearted cry in other lands merely collect furtive glances from us. We grumble and shrug and move on to invent excuses for betrayal and failure.
You heard what Vice President Kashim Shettima said in Abuja on Saturday about the poor in the country being angry with government officials and the elite in general: “All of us here belong to a tiny segment of the Nigerian population. And you don’t need a soothsayer to tell you that the poor are angry with us. Go to the slums and mingle with the poor. I am a native of Maiduguri. Anytime a rich man brought a new car to his house, it (the house) used to be a place of pilgrimage. People (used to) go and see not out of anger, but out of admiration. But now, as we cruise around in our bulletproof cars, one will see contempt in the eyes of the poor. We have to improve the quality of governance. And what we have is a tiny window of not more than 10 to 20 years. Let’s improve the quality of governance.” On poverty and banditry in the North, Shettima said: “They (the poor) are the most neglected segment of our society. You can hardly differentiate between them and their animals. Even the animals they rear belong to those in the city.” Very deep reading of what is happening. It was so nice the words came from the number two man in this government. If they had come from Tribune columnists or from Arise News’ ‘The Morning Show’ people, unappointed defenders of this government would have dubbed us haters of the president and his team.
“But, wait. How did we get here?” my friend asked me after listening to Shettima and watching two other trending video clips; one, an unpretentious street-show of wealth on wheels by the ‘Rich Kids of Abuja.’ The second is of celebratory potentates being worshipped by hungry men and women – because they own this democracy.
“Why did we face the bullets of Sani Abacha at Adamasingba?”
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In a flash of recollection, my friend raised her voice. “You remember? Imagine! We could have lost our lives there and no one would remember we ever lived.”
She was right. We almost became casualties of June 12. Some others did.
“What really fueled our audacity that time?” My friend asked again.
“We were dreamers. We thought we were fighting for a future that would be better. That future is now.”
How terribly wrong we were!
My friend now lives in the US. She had so much faith in Nigeria and would insist that nothing would make her jump ship. I took over from her as Nigerian Tribune’s news editor in June 1999. One bad day the previous year (15 April, 1998), the two of us and our immediate boss faced the combined fires of the military and the police at the Lekan Salami Stadium, Adamasingba, Ibadan, venue of an Abacha-for-President rally. The rally held inside the main bowl of the stadium but right outside the stadium was what was called Abacha-Must-Go rally, a counter movement of the masses. The street locked the stadium against the state and its supporters. We were right there; we forgot we were journalists – or rather, we were participant-observers, bullets flying over our heads. People died; it never crossed our minds that we were not bullet-proof, that we could be among the dead or that we could be maimed or arrested and jailed without trial. Then there was the May 1, 1998 epochal climax described by The Journal (15 May, 1998) as the “largest demonstration against military rule since 1994”; and by the BBC (1 May, 1998) as “the biggest anti-government rallies in recent years.” At least seven persons were shot dead that day. We literally walked through those valleys of death. What if we had got shot like the dead and the wounded?
“Our children would not have had any idea what parents we could be. They would have been at the mercy of those who safely watched the war miles away.” And there were many like that. They stayed safe to inherit the land.
“Of course, ‘coward lives long to show brave man’s children where their father was buried.'”
“That is Achebe, right?”
“It is an Igbo proverb. We can check if Achebe invented it but I know he says in ‘Arrow of God’ that ‘we often stand in the compound of a coward to point at the ruins where a brave man used to live.'”
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“Very true. We have a saying here that the brave who donates his head for breaking coconuts does not live to get his share.” We did that.
Hundreds did that, fighting the military, fighting for democracy and thinking that after the storms of that era, calm would reign. One of them was a man called Frank Ovie Kokori. He died on the dot of his 80th birthday last week. He was a labour leader who commanded the people’s army against Abacha’s. He brought the military with their tanks to their knees. But he and his comrades were wrong; they won the battle but lost the war. People who fought at the home front that time lost out completely. Kokori led a suicidal strike onslaught against Abacha and spent four years in detention for democracy. Twenty-four years after the birth of that democracy, the man died sad. He ran his career fighting for justice; he ended his career fighting desperately for his life.
Last month, on his hospital bed, Kokori told the world that he was dying and abandoned. He told some journalists: “Please do your best. Flash it. I can come alive again but I just want the world to know that if I survive, I will shame the leaders of this country. Shame to them. How can Kokori be in a third class hospital? I’m dying.” His hospital switched off the AC because there was no electricity and, (ironically) because diesel was too expensive. Kokori, the quintessential oil man of 1994, was, because of cost of diesel, denied use of air conditioner in 2023, a month before his death! It didn’t appear anyone heard Kokori’s last cries. Even the inheritors of the widow which Kokori forced the military to drop turned their deceased ear to what he was saying. And he died, broken. Even in death, how many of his ‘colleagues’ have you read mourning him? May his great soul rest in peace.
But it appears that Kokori’s is not the only death in the air. Businesses are dying; smart ones who have the swiftness of the eagle, are flying out while midwives of disaster wring their hands. Why would multinationals not leave? Sensible people learn survival from creations and entities gifted with the sixth sense. A report speaks of “worms that flee rising groundwater; sharks that flee to deeper water just before a big hurricane arrives; birds that hunker down before a big storm.” Companies are bailing out of Nigeria because they do not just look, they see. They think they owe themselves that duty of care.
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“You know P&G?”
“Yes. Procter & Gamble.” ‘Improving Everyday Life; Force for Growth; Force for Good.’ Those words welcome visitors to their website. They make pampers; they make Ariel, they make Oral B toothpaste. They employed hundreds of Nigerians, directly and indirectly. Last week, the company announced its exit from Nigeria. Before P&G, there was Sanofi-Aventis, a French pharmaceutical company; there was GlaxoSmithKline (GSK); there were others. They all held tight to their ears and ran out of Nigeria’s volcanic field. It is both tragic and ghastly.
What do you call a land that kills oaks and their acorns with relish? P&G commenced operations in Nigeria in 1992; GSK came into Nigeria on July 1, 1972. These multinational companies came in when there was no democracy; democracy has chased them out. P&G said Nigeria is a difficult place for businesses to operate – the same reason others gave for their exit. The environment is toxic. They downgraded Nigeria to a dump site for their goods made abroad. Procter & Gamble has one of the biggest factories in Ibadan. I won’t speak about the employees – they are the beard of the burnt cleric. But you should ask what will happen to that vast compound now? It is in an industrial estate but directly opposite the factory is the biggest church in Ibadan. The factory can wither and die, the church won’t. It may, in fact, not mind extending its protective foliage over that site. The prayer industry booms. As P&G was announcing its closure of business in Nigeria, the House on the Rock was holding its crowd-pulling Experience; Winners Chapel its Shiloh, the RCCG its Holy Ghost Congress. We are a praying nation of very hungry people.
What has this democracy done for Nigeria? Everyone outside government asks that question. Journalists of the 1990s did more than journalism and suffered more than what journalists normally suffer. Kunle Ajibade, Niran Malaolu and Chris Anyanwu were arrested, tried and sentenced for the military offence of coup making. Femi Adeoti of Sunday Tribune was in Agodi Prisons for reporting what government found offensive. They were lucky; some others died. Everyone paid so heavily that Nigeria could have a government of the people for the people. They suffered for nothing. On 20 June, 1998, three Nigerian Tribune journalists (Modupe Olubanjo, Adelowo Oladipo and Alaba Igbaroola) tasted the stuff the then strongman of Ibadan politics, Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu, was made of. He was Abacha’s main man in Yorubaland. The journalists were in Adedibu’s house to interview him on the political situation in the country but they asked the ‘wrong’ questions and suffered for it. They were assaulted; their recording gadget was snatched from them and the cassette in it removed. Adedibu advised the journalists to “forget (about) that cassette. I will give you money. How much does your cassette cost? I will give you.” The journalists replied, “No, it is not the money that matters now, but the cassette which is very important in order for people to hear your views as you stated them.” Enforcers got them roughened, then chased them out (see the Nigeria Media Monitor of 6 July, 1998).
There is a man called Ayo Opadokun. He was the Secretary-General and spokesman of NADECO who was seized and jailed by Abacha for talking too much. If you thought it was impossible to live solely on tea and banana for one month, you’ve not listened to Opadokun: “I was the only one they took to a cell, bare floor, no window. There was an opening that mosquitoes flew from to feast on me. I decided not to eat any food. The officers asked (me to tell them) whatever I thought I needed and that they would buy for me. Some of them who appeared to be friendly, I asked them to buy me banana and Lipton tea. That was what I took once a day for 33 days…”, Ayo Opadokun told the Nigerian Tribune some years ago. He is old now. His heroic deeds, just like Kokori’s, no one remembers.
Yam seeds must rot for us to get new yams. That is what our fathers told us – and we believed them. But the Nigerian harvest feeds only the powerful. If you understand Yoruba and pidgin English, pause and listen to Saheed Osupa’s 2009 song: ‘Nigeria Go Better.’ As a child, the Fuji icon heard ‘Nigeria e go better’. Now that he is a father, what he hears is still ‘Nigeria e go better’. “Is it when I become grandfather that Nigeria will be better?” he asks. That album was waxed 14 years ago, ten years into this democracy. Sixty-four years after independence and 24 years of this democracy; it is still ‘Nigeria go better.’ Our banana is progressively rotting; it is not ripening. The hungry are hungrier; the sick are sicker; the greedy greedier, the satanic more satanic and audacious.
“Osupa should be a grandpa now; what sequel to that song will he sing?” My friend asked again. I thought that was a challenge for the gifted musician to take. Then, to my friend I turned:
“You know what we ran into in the name of democracy?”
This article written by Dr. Lasisi Olagunju, Editor, Saturday Tribune, was first published by the newspaper. It’s published here with permission from the author.
EDOCSO Celebrates World Human Rights Day; 50% Of Nigeria’s Challenges Traced To Illicit Drugs
By Joseph Ebi Kanjo
If the menace of illicit drugs and its use can be addressed in Nigeria, 50% of the nation’s challenges must have been properly addressed and settled.
Dr. Mamud Adamu, Assistant Commandant of Narcotics, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Edo State, made this assertion in Benin, on Sunday, at an event organised by Edo Civil Society Organisations (EDOCSO) to mark the 2023 World Human Rights Day with the theme: Freedom, Equity & Justice for All.
Speaking on the topic: Drug Abuse, a Societal Problem and Possible Solutions, Dr Adamu who was the Keynote Speaker at the event, attributed several challenges such as kidnapping, murder, banditry, armed robbery, etc in this country to use and abuse of drugs, insisting that no man, can with his clear eye, harm his fellow man.
The NDLEA Officer who lamented that many investors are scared of coming to the country due to these challenges of which many can be traced to drugs, further lamented that “drug abuse affects our mental health and also affects the national economic. Any country where its youths are into drugs, that country cannot prosper.”
While urging citizens to inform the NDLEA in case of any suspicious deal in their area, Dr Adamu noted: “Drugs is the root cause of why some investors are scared of investing their money in this country.
“Guide your children, pray for them. Make sure you are sure of the kinds of friends they keep.”
On his part, Dr. Moses Oshiegbu, Health Officer, Psychiatric, while speaking on the topic: Mental Health- Effect of Drug Abuse, called for laws prohibiting public advert of illicit drugs.
“There should be law punishable for parents who send their underage children to buy these substances.
There should be law prohibiting public advert of alcohol and other substances,” he added.
Earlier, the Interim Technical Executive Council (TEC) Chairman, EDOCSO, Comrade Austin Enabulele, said celebration of the Day by the organisation was to let the whole world know that every man born of a woman has a right.
“The celebration is to let the whole world know that all human beings, regardless of their colour, status, have a right. Respect my right, and I respect yours. Respect to human rights is the significance of the day.
“We are calling on government, private and individuals to respect the right of everybody,” he added.
On his part, Comrade Omobude Agho, former Coordinator-General, EDOCSO, and convener, Left Movement of Nigeria, expressed joy for the progresses the civil society organisations had made over the years in its fight for human rights.
The EDOCSO also used the celebration of the Day to award three popular volunteer traffic controllers in Benin City; a Divisional Police Officer and a Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, for their service and contribution to the society.
Alleged ₦81.2bn Tree Planting Scandal: House Committee Exonerates NAGGW
The House of Representatives Adhoc Committee set up to investigate the utilisation of Ecological Fund released to the National Agency for the Great Green Wall (NAGGW), has absolved the Agency’s management of allegations of fraud allegations leveled against it.
The Honorable Ismaila Dabo-led Adhoc committee was set up in July, to investigate allegations of mismanagement of funds released to the agency from the Ecological Fund.
This followed a motion titled: “The Need to Investigate the Utilization of Ecological Funds Released to the Great Green Wall by the International Organizations from 2015 to Date; and All Federal Allocations to the National Agency for the Great Green Wall as well as all Contract Awarded to Various Contractors for the Project from 2019 to Date.” which was sponsored by Honourable Ali Lawan Shettima.
The House panel, in a report obtained by Vanguard, on Sunday, revealed that it reached the conclusion after considering oral evidence and reviewing documents made available to it by those who testified before the 15 member committee.
At the inaugural sitting of the Adhoc Committee, the management team of the agency was invited to shed light on allegations that it spent ₦81.2 billion on the planting of 21 million trees across 11 frontline states.
The States listed were: Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara, Katsina, Kano, Jigawa, Bauchi, Gombe, Adamawa, Yobe and Borno.
The House Committee equally queried the agency over discrepancies in some of its expenditures.
Director General/CEO of National Agency for the Great Green Wall (NAGGW), Dr. Yusuf Maina Bukar, in his presentation before the Committee in September, denied the allegation while making clarifications on budgetary allocations to the agency.
He informed the committee that he assumed office in April 2022, and that berifiable records show that the sum of ₦53,425,423,874.34 was the amount released to the Agency from inception to July 2023, as against the sum of N81.2 bn which the Agency was alleged to have spent.
Bukar insisted the Agency has not acted outside its mandate in the implementation of its mandate.
According to him, not all of the ₦53,425,423,874.34 received were directly spent for tree planting activities as some uninformed persons would want Nigerians to believe.
He said, “The NAGGW cost of planting, from inception in 2015 to July 2023 is ₦5,145,735,470.15
“That the approximate sum of ₦7.2 billion balance in the Agency’s account are liabilities already committed to ongoing contracts that have already been awarded.
“All unutilized funds from capital appropriation are refunded to Federal Government TSA account at the end of the financial year where applicable.”
The Honourable Dabo fifteen-man Committee in its report also faulted the claim that the agency received the sum of ₦81.2 bn noting that, “Evidence from the Hearing indicates that the NAGGW received a total sum of ₦53,425,423,874.34 (Fifty-three Billion, Four Hundred and Twenty-five Million, Four Hundred and Twenty-three Thousand, Eight Hundred- and Seventy-four-naira, Thirty-four Kobo) only from inception in 2015 to July, 2023.”
In the course of its investigations, the Committee also discovered that the Agency didn’t receive budgetary allocation for 2015; and that ecological funding was not released to the agency until 2019.
The House panel also discovered that, “the percentage of ecological funding going to the Agency was reduced from 15% provided for by the Act to just 5% with effect from January 2020 to date.”
The report acknowledged the paucity and untimely release of funds, inability to access foreign assistance and absence of a Governing Board as some of the factors hindering the performance of the agency.
The lawmakers equally expressed displeasure over the unilateral reduction in the statutory allocation to the agency by fiat, and urged government, as a matter of urgency revert the Ecological Fund releases to the agency back to 15 percent as provided for by the NAGGW Act.
The report further read in part, “That the total sum of ₦20,168,363,662.18 (Twenty Billion, One Hundred and Sixty- Eight Million, Three Hundred and Sixty-Three Thousand, Six Hundred- And Sixty-Two-Naira, Eighteen Kobo) only being the shortfall of the reduction from Ecological Fund for January, 2020 to date, be immediately released to the Agency to fund its activities;”
Other recommendations contained in the report read : “Similarly, the Ecological fund office should calculate remit to the NAGGW the total sums due to the agency from the Ecological Fund from 2015 to 2018;
“Urge the National Agency for the Great Green Wall to as a matter of urgency include the frontline states of Adamawa, Bauchi and Gombe States in the fourth phase of the a forestation projects which is to commence soon.
“There is urgent need for the agency to undertake recruitment of staff, especially for its offices at the front line states;
“Need for a greater collaboration and synergy between the NAGGW and the Federal Ministry of Environment;”
“Urge the Federal Government to constitute a Governing Board for the National Agency for the Great Green Wall;
“Need for extensive enlightenment of the general public on the sustainable use of the forest for preservation.”
Aside from submissions by the Federal Ministry of Environment, the Central Bank of Nigeria, Office of the Accountant General of the Federation and the Ecological Project Office, the Committee also undertook on-the-spot assessment visit to projects sites in some of the frontline states, namely; Kano, Jigawa and Sokoto State.
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