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Why 75 political parties passed vote of confidence on INEC boss

Seventy-five political parties have passed vote of confidence on Prof. Yakubu Mahmood, Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The parties made this known in a communique issued at the end of a two-day National Roundtable for the 2019 General Election Review,  organised by Centre for Transparency Advocacy (CTA), held on Monday in Abuja.

The communique was jointly signed by the Acting Director, CTA, Ms Faith Nwadishi and National Chairman, Coalition for Change (C4C ) Party, Mr Geff Ojinika.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the conference with the theme: “The Role and Performances of Stakeholders in the 2019 General Elections: Issues, Challenges and prospects,” was in conjunction with Chairmen of Nigerian Political Parties.

According to the group, Yakubu did well in the conduct of the just concluded elections and deserved to be commended.

“While thanking the INEC management for a well-planned and carefully executed 2019 General Elections, the roundtable passed a vote of confidence on the INEC Chairman.

“It equally calls for a more regular roundtable discussion on the improvement of our electoral process,” the  communique noted.

The group recommended the need for INEC to strengthen the capacity of its polling staff through, training and retraining particularly on the handling of the card readers.

They called on the National Assembly to immediately re-present to President Muhammadu Buhari, the amended Electoral Bill and urged the President  to do the needful to ensure that the amended Electoral Bill was signed into law.

The roundtable demanded the establishment of electoral offenses tribunal to punish electoral offenders and should be structured to take off in less than a month after the conclusion of election petition tribunal hearings.

They also said that political parties and young people should leverage on the provisions of the Not-Too-Young-To-Run Act to increase political participation of youth in subsequent elections.

The communique noted that efforts must be intensified to ensuring  proper coordination of Inter Agency Committee on Election Security (ICES) and the non-partisan deployment of security personnel to all the polling units to ensure peaceful conduct of polls.

The parties said that in order to address dwindling turnout of voters after the first election and increase the zeal to elect credible leaders, the conduct of the three principal elections should be done on the same day.

This, they said, would curb voter apathy.

They added that that it would also save cost, ensure emergence of quality leadership, the integrity of the ballot, large voter turnout and guarantee improved security on election day.

The group also urged political parties to maintain internal democracy and engage in transparent primaries to select their candidates with less rancour, and minimise defections.

The communique also advised parties to review their manifestoes to strengthen their ideologies and loyalties and stem intra-party conflicts that bedevilled  the nation’s polity.

“Freedom of Information Act should be given life so that media outfits and journalists will be adequately protected while carrying out their legitimate duties during elections.” it said

NAN reports that some of the political parties at the event included, Labour Party (LP), Progressives Peoples Alliance (PPA), Accord (A),  National Conscience Party (NCP), among others.

Police rescue toddler kidnapped at MFM

Officers of the Lagos State Police Command has rescued a three-year-old, Esther Ojo, kidnapped on the premises of Mountain of Fire and Prayer Ministries (MFM) regional headquarters in Agege, Lagos in March.

Two suspected abductors, Nwaigbo Magnus and Sixtus Egwim, were also arrested at the location where they gave the child’s parents to bring the ransom.

A Lagos police prosecutor told Ebute Meta Chief Magistrates’ Court last Friday that a man, Chibuzor Elikee, had demanded for N1.6 million cash, and N5,000 recharge cards as ransom for the child.

The prosecutor also said that others who were involved in the alleged crime were still at large.

However, Lagos police spokesman, Bala Elkana, confirmed that the suspected kidnappers were arrested at about 12:30 pm on Monday.

“The kidnappers already demanded ransom of undisclosed amount from the parents of the baby and the church. They continued to change the venue for the collection of ransom within Igando axis for over four hours until they were rounded up by the police,” he said.

It’s a boy…Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, now a mum

Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, has given birth to a boy, she and Prince Harry announced on their Instagram account Monday.

“We are pleased to announce that Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Sussex welcomed their firstborn child in the early morning on May 6th, 2019. Their Royal Highnesses’ son weighs 7lbs. 3oz,” it said.

“The Duchess and baby are both healthy and well, and the couple thank members of the public for their shared excitement and support during this very special time in their lives.”

The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh, The Prince of Wales, The Duchess of Cornwall, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Lady Jane Fellowes, Lady Sarah McCorquodale and Earl Spencer have been informed and are delighted with the news. The Duchess’s mother, Doria Ragland, who is overjoyed by the arrival of her first grandchild, is with Their Royal Highnesses at Frogmore Cottage.

Her Royal Highness and her child are both doing well.

Fulani bandits attack travellers on Ife-Ilesha highway, scores injured

A trailer-load of gunmen suspected to be Hausa-Fulanis attacked travellers on the Ife-Ilesha highway this evening.

According to eyewitnesses the trailer conveying the attackers suddenly stopped in the middle of the highway at Ikoyi town in Osun State about 6.45pm, while the gunmen disembarked and started shooting at everyone in sight.

The Public Relations Officer of the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Adegbenro Adebanjo, whose wife and son were caught up in the attack, gave an account of the incident in a Facebook post.

Read his account which he entitled, Insecurity: We are all in Trouble, below.

The call came in around 7:30 PM on Sunday, May 5,2019 …Daddy, daddy, marauders suspected to be Fulani herdsmen attacked the vehicle my mummy and my brother were traveling in.

Where, how? The caller, who is my first son, explained that according to information gleaned from his brother, who managed to escape with his phone the marauders targeted the travellers on the highway.

From what I was able to piece together it was a clinical operation by professionals.

At about 6:45pm on the Ilesha-Ife-Ibadan Expressway a trailer loaded with some men suddenly blocked the road around Ikoyi town and some men jumped out and started shooting sporadically. Mayhem ensued as vehicles rammed into one another while occupants exited through windows and other openings in desperate dash for safety in the bush.

The marauders who spoke in Hausa unleashed mayhem on the hapless travellers demanding for money and other valuables. They pursued those who fled deep into the bush beating and harassing them in the process while shooting continuously to show that they meant business.

Some twenty minutes after help came through the Police who engaged the marauders in a shootout and succeeded in forcing them to beat a hasty retreat.

Mercifully most of the travellers including my wife and son who were bruised and battered both physically and psychologically live to tell the tale of the harrowing experience.

Some have not been that lucky including Onukaba Adinoyi Ojo a former Managing Director of the Daily Times who was killed in similar circumstances some years back.

There are countless tales of broken limbs and heads and mortal wounds resulting in deaths as kidnappers and marauders of different hue and persuasion hold the country by the jugular.

Nigeria, yes all of us are in trouble. The fact that military men are also abandoning the Kaduna-Abuja road to scramble for trains is indicative that we are in deeper trouble security wise.

This piece is not about politics. It is to jolt us to speak out and to TELL us that nobody and no road is immune from such devilish attacks.

But for God’s divine mercy and intervention, may be two members of my family would have become casualties of the growing insecurity in the land.

Now is the time for concerted efforts to deal with the growing monster. The country’s security architecture needs a surgical operation NOW.

US court jails Nigerian nanny 15 years àfter force feeding baby to death

 

A nanny convicted of murder for force-feeding a baby milk was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Oluremi Adeleye, 73, was found guilty of child abuse and second-degree murder in February after a week-long trial in which Prince George’s County prosecutors argued that the nanny unscrewed the lid of a baby bottle and poured nearly eight ounces of milk down 8-month-old Enita Salubi’s throat.

“Please forgive me,” Adeleye said after she fell on her knees in court Friday. “I didn’t mean to kill your child.”

Adeleye, a native of Nigeria, testified in her own defense at her trial. She said she was “cup-feeding” the baby to ensure it didn’t go hungry, a custom in her home country. She and her attorneys said that she did not mean to hurt the child and that Enita’s death was a “tragic accident.” Adeleye had others testify in her defense, saying that cup-feeding — pouring liquid in one’s hand to feed children when they do not want to eat but need to be fed — was common in Nigeria.

“While I don’t find the defendant is an evil-intentioned baby slayer, I also don’t find her actions were accidental,” Prince George’s County Circuit Court Judge Karen Mason said before handing down the sentence.

The child had roused the nanny from a nap, and the girl essentially drowned in milk while in Adeleye’s care in Glenarden on Oct. 24, 2016, prosecutors said at trial. Video from the incident captured on a nanny camera shows the baby bouncing in a walker and patting Adeleye’s leg while the nanny is on the couch. Adeleye is then seen trying to give the child a bottle. After the child does not take the bottle, Adeleye removes the lid of the bottle and tips it to the baby’s face. The contents disappear in less than 30 seconds as the child squirms in Adeleye’s arms and then falls to the ground, the video shows.

Enita’s mother, Nikia Porter, said at the sentencing that she moved from the South Side of Chicago to escape gun violence that could have put her family in danger.

“I didn’t want to lose my child to a stray bullet,” Porter said, remembering her “silly” and “loving” baby. “I lost her to a formula.”

Adeleye, initially charged under her married name of Oluremi Oyindasola, opted for a bench trial, in which a judge weighed her fate instead of a jury. In finding Adeleye guilty of all the charges against her, Mason said Adeleye lied to homicide detectives in recorded interviews about whether she unscrewed the cap of the bottle to feed the child. The shifting story, Mason said, demonstrated a “consciousness of guilt.”

“She deserved to grow up,” Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy (D) said of the child, who would have turned 3 this year. “She deserved to have a life to fulfill her dreams.”

Porter said the death of Enita continues to haunt her family, including her two siblings, who were in the room when their younger sister was killed. They continue to ask where their sister is and when she is coming home.

“‘Oh, she’s in heaven?’” Porter said her two children ask regularly. “‘Can we go to heaven?’”

 

Police arrest six people with truckload of poisonous ‘ponmo’

Policemen attached to the Lagos State Police Command have arrested six suspects in possession of poisonous cow skin (ponmo).

The spokesperson, Lagos State Police Command, Bala Elkana, said in a statement on Sunday in Lagos that the suspects were arrested following a police tip-off.

“On May 5, at about 5 a.m, acting on the strength of information from a credible source that a truckload of cow skins, popularly called ‘ponmo’, suspected to be poisonous were heaped in a warehouse at No. 9, College Road, Igando.

“A team of Police officers led by the Divisional Police Officer Igando, mobilised to the scene.

“The huge pillage and pyramid of poisonous ponmo and the chemicals used in the preservation of the cow skins were recovered.

“One TATA Truck with registration number AKD-375-XB which was used in conveying the goods was impounded

“Officials of Lagos State Ministry of Health were contacted and after due examination, the cow skins were confirmed to be poisonous and not fit for human consumption.

“Six suspects Adelowo Yinka 50, Olawumi Onabanjo 40, Omowumi Wasiu 43, Adeshokan Taiwo 43, Iyabo Oluwa 38 and Taye Kazeem 40yrs were arrested in connection with the case.’’

According to Mr Elkana, the Commissioner of Police Lagos State Command, Zubairu Muazu, assured Lagosians that the Command will continue to protect life and property of the people.

Mr Muazu also assured that the command would ensure the preservation of public health and safety as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“Investigation is ongoing to ascertain the source and destinations of those poisonous food items, and suspects will be charged to court.’’ he said. (NAN)

Release our results, UTME candidates beg JAMB

Some 2019 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examinations (UTME) candidates have appealed to the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) to release their results.

The candidates spoke in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Bwari.

The 2019 UTME commenced on April 11 to April 18 with 1.8 million registered candidates.

The board has repeatedly said that it would take its time to screen the results because of the several infractions discovered during the exercise.

Madueke John, a candidate, said that the long wait for the results has held some of the candidates back, while also causing a lot of tension.

“With everything we are hearing from JAMB and other media reports we are getting, we are tensed.

“I know I did not do anything that will incriminate me during the exams but the entire process this time around has really changed.

“If JAMB, while screening, discovers those who are innocent, why don’t they release those ones and continue screening others, seriously, this is taking forever.

“I really don’t know what to expect again, but please, they should just focus on this year’s exercise and release at least parts of the results to reduce the tension.”

Another candidate, Henrietta Adams, said that the board is undoubtedly doing what it deemed best for the country.

She, however, added that it would also do a lot of good if some of the results are released.

Ms Adam added that the long wait has caused some of the candidates to be unsure of what may happen at the end of the day.

Female Permanent Secretary abducted

Uknown gunmen in the early hours of Sunday, abducted Mrs Suzzy Nathan, Permanent Secretary, Taraba State Ministry of Water Resources, from her home in Jalingo.
The Police Public Relations Officer in Taraba, DSP David Misal, confirmed the incident to newsmen in Jalingo.

Misal said the command was deploying every intelligence to establish if it was a kidnapping case since no contact had been made with anyone claiming to be behind the abduction.
“The police were not alerted on time about the incident, but the permanent secretary is missing, so we are using our intelligence to ascertain whether it is a case of kidnapping.”

The gunmen, according to a resident who pleaded anonymity, came to the house at Kasuwan Mbera Area of Jalingo, about 2:17 a.m., forcefully opened the gate and threatened to shoot anyone who tried to stop them from abducting the permanent secretary.

He said the gunmen, who were shooting sporadically for some time, scared away residents of the area before whisking Nathan away.

‘INEC being blackmailed by those rigging election’

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said it is being intimidated and blackmailed by politicians with a history of election rigging in the state.

The Akwa Ibom State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Mike Igini, who addressed a news conference at the weekend, said those accusing the commission of irregularities rigged elections in the past to get government positions.

Igini was reacting to allegations by the All Progressives Congress (APC), and its lawyers, that INEC was preventing it from accessing and inspecting electoral materials.

He said: “Akwa Ibom is the only state where the opposition is complaining of being denied access to materials but the complaints are deliberate. Those with a history of election rigging are the ones accusing the commission. The complainants cannot compare what happened in 2011 and 2015 to the 2019 elections.”

Igini flayed the APC lawyers and petitioners for accusing it of not complying with the Tribunal order to inspect election materials.

According to him, the Commission has complied with the tribunal’s orders in line with the provision of Sections 77 and 151 of the Electoral Act, to make available to petitioners, certified copies of election materials, and also to be open to petitioners.

“The APC governorship candidate’s lawyer, Victor Iyanam, informed the commission of the tribunal’s order on April 25, and was told to return the next day so that INEC’s legal team could jointly work out the inspection schedule, but he never turned up.

“Now, in between the waiting time, Iyanam already granted news conferences and issued statements, accusing the commission of denying them access to materials. But this is untrue. We are committed to the electoral accountability to ensure electoral justice.”

Igini explained that since April 23, inspection of materials had been happening daily for Akwa Ibom Northeast and Akwa Ibom NorthWest Senatorial seat.

Trade by barter still thriving in Nigerian community

The Esuk Mba community market in Akpabuyo Local Government Area of Cross River is still practising trade by barter as a means of exchange for food items since it was established in 1956.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the market, which is located in a remote village in Esuk Mba in Akpabuyo, is a weekly market that starts from 7.am in the morning and ends at noon every Saturday.

Villagers usually move their consumable items to the market in exchange for the ones they are in need of.

This practice had been in peaceful existence among members of the community on every market day since 1956.

The Community’s Youth Leader, Mr Asuquo Effiong, said the market which serves as a tourists site to visitors, was in dire need of a facelift.

He said that the practice was still in existence because the market was handed over to them by their fore fathers; hence they cherish and preserve it.

According to him, the market is also significant because it was also a point of activities during the period of the slave trade in Nigeria.

“We grew up to meet this market. We hold it so much in high esteem and we want to sustain it. We use it to remember our fore-fathers and to sustain our culture.

“As you can see, they are varieties of food items on this section for exchange. In this market, you can bring your palm oil and exchange it for garri, yam, fish or plantain as the case may be.

“The market is close to the river side and our people here are predominantly fishermen. The community is not comfortable with the size of this market; there have been no expansion of the market since inception.

“In addition, we don’t have any good school here, no portable drinking water and health post. We need government intervention in this community,’’ he said.

A market woman, Mrs Eno Etim, who brought in yams for exchange for palm oil, said that the tradition had been with them for ages.

According to Etim, she had no palm oil in her house, hence she brought in four tubers of yam to exchange for a four litre of palm oil.

Also, Mrs Grace Okon brought in periwinkle, popularly called `mfi’ in Calabar language for exchange for garri.

She said that system has helped them over the years to safe cost in view of the scarce financial resources.

NAN observed that the most of the roofs in the thatched houses inside the market had already fallen off, while the woods that usually give the houses a standing position were lying on the ground.

A youth in the village, Mr Cyril Asuquo, who conducted NAN Correspondent through the slave trade route behind the market, up to the creeks where the slaves were been transported through the sea to other countries, said the route was called a `Point of no Return’.

He explained to NAN that the bank of the creeks was called a `Point of no Return’ because any slave that ever got to that point never came back to their families.

“This route is the Point of no Return as we heard from our fore-fathers; it used to be a slavery ground. When they take you to this point as a slave, it means no mercy, no return.

“We lost our fathers, mothers and relatives that were taken through this point. But in all, we thank God that the practice of slavery has been abolished,’’ he said.

Asuquo who also showed NAN the thatched house that used to serve as a resting point for the slave after a long distance trekking, urged the state government to make the spot a tourism site. (NAN)

CBN, 14 banks deny overseeing Imo N1bn contract account

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and 14 other banks out of the 17 ordered by an FCT High Court to show cause why plea for garnishee of alleged accounts operated by Imo Government should not be made absolute, had denied overseeing the state’s accounts.

The denials were contained in the respondents briefs filed by the concerns banks and made available to newsmen on Sunday in Abuja, by Mr Anthony Agbonlahor, Counsel for the Judgment Creditors.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that a garnishee order is a common form of enforcing a judgment debt against a debtor to recover money.

The court enforces the payment of such debt through a third party who holds funds belonging to the judgment debtor.

The judgment creditors, E.F. Network Nig Ltd and Mr Gideon Egbuchulam on April 17 approached the court with an exparte motion praying it to compel 17 banks allegedly overseeing Imo government accounts to effect the payment.

Justice Bello Kawu, went ahead to grant the prayer by directing the listed banks to show caused why the order should not made absolute.

The banks were: Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Access Bank Plc, Zenith Bank Plc, Jaiz Bank, Union Bank Plc, United Bank for Africa (UBA), First Bank Plc, Ecobank Plc, Keystone Bank Plc, and Diamond Bank Plc.

The rest were: Fidelity Bank Plc, Polaris Bank Plc, GTBank Plc, Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc, Unity Bank Plc, Heritage Bank Plc, and FCMB Bank Plc.

The Supreme Court had on March affirmed the judgment of the Court of Appeal Owerri which ordered the state defendants to pay the N1 billion contract debt owed the judgment creditors.

The apex court held that the appeal filed by the Imo state government and Gov. Rochas Okorocha challenging the judgment of the lower court was not meritorious.

However, going by the respondents brief filed by the 17 banks, 14 of them denied overseeing any Imo government accounts.

Meanwhile, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) said it was not in the position to effect the order of the court since it only had only administrative supervisory powers over banks.

Mr Ahmed Abdullahi, Counsel for the CBN in this respondent brief said that the apex bank did not maintain accounts in the name of the judgment debtor.

He further said the bank had such powers to track funds due to the state government in the consolidate revenue fund of Imo state. Abdullahi also argued that the bank did not part take in the actual sharing of funds to state from the Federation Account.

He further said the CBN as a public officer required the consent of the Attorney-General of the Federation to act on legal matters, adding that processes served on the bank did indicate consent was sought.

Abdullahi therefore, prayed the court to vacate the order and discharge the bank in the interest of justice.

However, the respondent’s brief filed by the Zenith Bank Plc indicated the state government maintained an account with it, but that the account was used to obtain N10 billion loan from the bank 2016 and spread across 240 months.

Similarly, Access Bank Nig, Plc in its response, agreed to oversee a number of the judgment debtor’s account but that the balances in those account abysmally negligible, adding that they were no recent transactions on the accounts.

Agbonlahor, while speaking on the responses filed by the Access bank, said the bank’s testimony was incorrect.

“Access Bank today filed a return denying the existence of the account numbers we had tracked belonged to the judgment debtors.

“This denial goes contrary to the letter of the prayers that contained specific account numbers maintained by the judgment debtors with the bank.

“The act of concealing of existing accounts on the part of the bank is a despicable action capable of making it incur liabilities of the judgment debtors.

“We have evidence that one of the account numbers we mentioned had been used to pay salaries of workers in Imo state last month through the intervention of the EFCC.

“It is therefore an embarrassment to the bank for it to deny the existence of any accounts belonging to Imo state government.

“Whether this will be the beginning of charges bordering on perjury against the deponent, only time will tell,’’ Agbonlahor said.

However, Chief M.O Nlemedim (SAN), Imo State, Attorney-General filed a Motion on Notice seeking the termination of the garnishee proceedings for want of competence.

He is asking the court for an order restraining the judgment creditors, agents, representatives or the garnishee banks from relying on the said garnishee order pending the determination of the motion.

The state is also seeking the setting aside of the garnishee order made April 17 in a motion mark: FCT/HC/5309/2019, for allegedly being an abuse of court process.

NAN reports that the other judgment debtors include the Environmental Transformation Committee (Imo Entraco) and The Ministry of Environment.

Justice Bello Kawu has fixed June 25 for continuation of hearing on the matter.

Army bans motorcycles in the forests of seven northern states

The Nigeria Army has banned the use of motorcycles in the forests of six of the seven northwest States and Niger.

The states are Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina, Kano, Kebbi and Kaduna.

The army warned that any caught violating the ban would be considered as bandits and kidnappers.

According to Army spokesman Col Sagir Musa the ban has become imperative given the fact bandits perpetrate their nefarious activities with the use of motorcycles.

A statement signed by Col.Musa reads:” The Nigerian Army (NA) over time has observed the use of motorcycles by armed bandits, kidnappers, criminal elements and their collaborators as enablers to perpetrate their heinous crimes especially in the states within the north west geopolitical zone of the country.

“This informed the decision and directive to ban the use of motorcycles within the hinterland particularly around the Forests where the armed bandits, criminals and kidnappers hibernate and all around where troops are conducting operations alongside other security agencies.

“While this may cause some inconveniences to some law abiding citizens in the area, the need to use all means possible to stop the dastardly activities of these bandits across the North West part of Nigeria needs no emphasis.

“The general public, particularly in the North West and some parts of North Central in Nigeria where Ex HARBIN KUNAMA is ongoing are enjoined to bear with the NA as concerted efforts are being made to combat the insecurity menace ongoing within the area.

“In this wise, it is hereby reiterated that the use of motorcycles remain banned within the forest areas in KANO, KATSINA, ZAMFARA, SOKOTO, KADUNA, KEBBI and NIGER States.

“Anyone caught using motorcycles within the named areas will be taken for an armed bandit, criminal and kidnapper with dire consequences.

“The respective State Governments are enjoined to please disseminate the ban on the use of motorcycles in the named areas and enforce the ban in conjunction with the Security Agencies.  “

SERAP: Fashola has named corrupt contractors

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) says Babatunde Fashola, minister of power, works and housing, has named contractors who failed to execute power projects after receiving payment.

In a statement on Sunday, Kolawole Oluwadare, deputy director of SERAP, said the minister forwarded the list to the organisation.

Oluwadare said SERAP has been invited to inspect a compendium of verified and paid/outstanding liabilities of contractors, kept at the offices of the Nigeria Electricity Liability Management Limited/GTE.

He said a letter from the ministry with reference number FMP/LU/R2K/2016/T/40 and signed on Fashola’s behalf by Louis Edozien, the ministry’s permanent secretary, revealed how Pow Technologies Limited, an Abuja-based company, was awarded a contract in 2014 to the tune of N87,763,302.40 for the supply and installation of test and maintenance equipment relays to various NAPTIN regional training centers (RTCs) (LOT15).

A total of N79,404,892.66 was said to have been paid to Pow Technologies Limited, but only 13 of the 19 items have so far been supplied.

According to Oluwadare, the ministry said while the contractors undertook to take remedial action, they have failed to complete the project for which funds have been released.

The ministry also pointed out that it submitted a petition to the commissioner of police, Abuja on January 13, 2016, and that the police instituted a case for the prosecution of Messrs Pow at the upper area court.

The ministry also said it has sought and received legal advice to pursue a civil action at the FCT high court while a report of criminal breach of contract has been made to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

“I write with respect to the Ministry’s letter regarding details of alleged corrupt contractors and to forward the attached responses from some of the Ministry’s Agencies namely: National Bulk Electricity Trading Plc; National Power Training Institute of Nigeria and Nigeria Electricity Liability Management Limited/GTE for your information,” the ministry’s letter read.

But SERAP responded saying it needed more names of contractors who failed to deliver power projects after being paid.

“We welcome Mr Fashola’s latest response and the information regarding Pow Technologies Limited. But we need details of names of other contractors that have collected public funds yet failed to execute power projects,” SERAP said.

“We will continue to push the Ministry and its agencies to reveal more details of alleged corrupt contractors and companies, as contained in our FOI request. We will continue to pursue our FOI suit at the Federal High Court, Lagos, before Justice Chuka Austine Obiozor, a Professor of Law, who has granted an order for leave in the case.”

In February, SERAP sued the minister, compelling him to provide specific details of the names and whereabouts of the contractors as stipulated in a freedom of information (FOI) request to the ministry.

EFCC launches fresh probe against Saraki

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has launched a fresh probe against Senate President Bukola Saraki over allegations of money laundering.

According to THISDAY, the anti-graft agency is investigating Saraki’s earnings during his time as governor of Kwara state.

Saraki governed the state between 2003 and 2011 before proceeding to the senate.

In a letter quoted by THISDAY, the EFCC said it is investigating Saraki over “an alleged case of conspiracy, abuse of office, misappropriation of public funds, theft, and money laundering” involving him.

The letter said to have been addressed to the permanent secretary, Kwara government house and dated April 26, directed the state government to release details of all of Saraki’ salaries, allowances, estacode and payments received as governor.

The letter signed by Isyaku Sharu, EFCC zonal head, reads: “In view of the above, you are kindly requested to furnish us with the full details of all his entitlements to include but not limited to emoluments, allowances, estacodes, other fringe benefits and severance package while he held sway as the Executive Governor of Kwara State between 2003 and 2011.

“This request is made pursuant to Section 38 (1) & (2) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act, 2004 and Section 21 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act.”

The probe comes less than a year after the supreme court cleared Saraki of allegations of false assets declaration instituted against him by the federal government.

The EFCC had testified against Saraki during the trial.

Buhari refuses to disclose new cabinet members

President Muhammadu Buhari says he will not make any comment about those who will make his next cabinet.

Fielding questions from reporters after his 10-day trip to the United Kingdom, Buhari said he is ready to settle down and swear in the new cabinet.

A reporter had asked him, “What kind of people will make your next cabinet?” and he responded: “I won’t tell you.”

The president also refused to respond to the question on whether he compiled a ministerial list while in London.

On the widespread kidnappings in the country, Buhari said he noticed Mohammed Adamu, acting inspector-general of police, had lost weight, saying it is a sign that he is working hard.

The presidential aircraft which conveyed the president from London landed at the presidential wing of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, at 6:24pm.

Those at the airport to welcome the president were Abba Kyari, his chief of staff; Muhammed Bello, minister of the federal capital territory (FCT); Tukur Buratai, chief of army staff; Ibrahim Magu, acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), and some presidential aides.

Buhari proceeded to the UK on a “private visit” on April 25.

Sultan declares Monday beginning of Ramadan

Sa’ad Abubakar, sultan of Sokoto, says the crescent moon for the month of Ramadan has been sighted, declaring Monday as the first day of fasting in the country.

Simwal, a member of the moonsighting committee of Nigeria, quoted the sultan as saying so.

Muslim faithful observe the 29 or 30 days fast during the Islamic month of Ramadan.

While it lasts, the Muslims abstain from food and sexual relations from dawn to dusk. They also strive to engage in more acts of worship.

Saum, referred to as fasting, is the fourth pillar of Islam.

“His Eminence the Sultan of Sokoto has authorized me to inform the general public that Ramadan crescent was sighted in different locations in Nigeria this evening , compilation of more results is going on.Taraweeh prayers can commence,” Simwal tweeted.

NYSC confirms kidnap of corps member by Boko Haram

The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) has confirmed abduction of Abraham Amuta, a corps member, by suspected Boko Haram insurgents along Chibok road in Borno state.

Amuta was abducted alongside a pastor of the Living Faith Church Worldwide better known as Winners Chapel simply identified as Oyeleke.

Muhammed Sada, an NYSC information officer in Borno, said that Amuta travelled without permission.

He said it was through the church that NYSC learnt of Amuta’s abduction.

“Living faith Church wrote to us one week ago informing us about how one of our corps members named Abraham Amuta, Batch B, Stream 1, was abducted by members of Boko Haram,” he said.

“In the letter addressed to our state coordinator, they said a committee, led by Pastor Oyekele, was set up by the church to distribute relief items to internally displaced persons in Chibok.

“According to them, the abducted corps member was not part of the of the committee set up by the church for the programme, but he insisted on going with them.

“The corper went on his own under his church without the consent of the NYSC Borno secretariat. As you are aware, due to the volatile nature of Borno state, corps members are usually given the option to ask for redeployment.

“Also, no corp member is posted or sent on any assignment that can expose him to danger. NYSC will never deploy any corp member to a place where his life is exposed to danger.”

He added that security agencies had been informed of Amuta’s plight “for necessary action”.

Buhari returns to Abuja after 10 days abroad

President Muhammadu Buhari returned to Abuja Sunday after spending 10 days on a private visit to the United Kingdom.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the presidential aircraft conveying the president from London landed at the Presidential Wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja at about 6.33 p.m.

Those at the airport to welcome the president include his Chief of Staff, Malam Abba Kyari, some ministers, including the Federal Capital Territory Minister, Malam Muhammed Bello and the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai.

Others were the acting Inspector-General of Police, Mr Muhammed Adamu, Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Ibrahim Magu and other presidential aides.

Buhari had on April 25 proceeded to the UK on a private visit after he inaugurated some projects executed by the Borno Government.

After landing at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, Buhari took a chopper to the Aso Villa.

Fresh crisis brews in UNILAG over Babalakin’s query to lecturers

The leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), University of Lagos (UNILAG) chapter, has, again, accused the chairman of the institution’s governing council,  Dr Wale Babalakin SAN,  of being dictatorial and engaging in illegality in the administration of the university.

In its letter to the union members and signed by its chairman, Dele Ashiru, ASUU said it has received complaints from seven lecturers who were issued queries by the university registrar, Oladejo Azeez, on the instruction of Mr Babalakin.

The letter was titled; “Creeping Tyranny and Looming Anarchy in the University of Lagos.”

According to the union, some lecturers received queries signed by the registrar on why they embarked on duly approved trips. The lecturers were also asked in the letter to submit their responses to the council chairman directly.

The letter reads in part; “Our fears that a vicious, vindictive and meddlesome leviathan is at the head of the University of Lagos Council has sadly been confirmed.

“Our union has received an avalanche of complaints from members who are in receipt of “queries” most recklessly and illegally authorised by the Pro-Chancellor, Dr Wale Babalakin through the registrar.

“This dictatorial, unprocedural, illegal and deliberate by-pass of the university administration, whose duty is that of day-to-day running of the university is strange and dangerous. It is sad and shameful that the purported report(s) which the pro-chancellor is acting upon has not been received by the university’s council. This arbitrariness and ‘one man show’ is repulsive and unacceptable to our union as it smacks of vindictiveness.”

Premium Times reported that ASUU has, therefore, advised the concerned lecturers to immediately contact the union for “proper guidance and further actions.” The union assured its members that it would stop at nothing to resist what it described as “creeping tyranny and looming anarchy.”

Babalakin denies wrongdoing

But the governing council chairman has denied any wrongdoing, saying his action is backed by the Act establishing the university.

In his response to a text message by our reporter, Mr Babalakin challenged ASUU to back up its claim with facts and figure. He said no specific law has been violated by his action.

The message reads; “It is important that ASUU backs up its allegation by referring to (a) specific law that has been violated. Please refer to Section 7 of the University Act, which defines the power of (the) Council. The registrar and secretary to (the) council is in the best position to advise on the procedure of Council. Thank you.”

What Section 7 says

Section 7 of the University of Lagos Act referenced by Mr Babalakin reads as follows:

(1) Subject to the provisions of this Act relating to the Visitor, the Council shall be the governing body of the university and shall be charged with the general control and superintendence of the policy, finances and property of the university, including its public relations.

(2) There shall be a committee of the Council, to be known as the Finance and General Purposes Committee, which shall, subject to the directions of the Council, exercise control over the property and expenditure of the University, other than that of the colleges, and perform such other functions of the Council as the Council may from time to time delegate to it.

(3) Provision shall be made by statute with respect to the constitution of the Finance and General Purposes Committee.

(4) The Council shall ensure that proper accounts of the University and the colleges are kept and that the accounts of the University and of each of the colleges are audited annually by auditors appointed by the Council from the list and in accordance with guidelines supplied by the Auditor-General for the Federation; and that an annual report is published by the University together with certified copies of the said accounts as audited.

(5) Subject to this Act and the statutes, the Council and the Finance and General Purposes Committee may each make rules for the purposes of exercising any of their respective functions or of regulating their own procedure.

(6) Rules made under subsection (5) or this section by the Finance and General Purposes Committee shall not come into force unless approved by the Council; and in so far as any rules so made by that committee conflict with any directions given by the Council (whether before or after the coming into force of the rules in question), the directions or the Council shall prevail.

(7) There shall be paid to the members of the Council, of the Finance and General Purposes Committee and of any other committee set up by the council respectively allowances in respect of travelling and other reasonable expenses, at such rates as may from time to time be fixed by the Council.

(8) The Council shall meet as and when necessary for the performance of its functions under this Act, and shall meet at least three times in every year.

(9) Any three members of the Council may by notice in writing signed by them require the Pro-Chancellor to convene a special meeting of the Council.

ASUU insists no law backs council chair’s action

The ASUU chairman, Dele Ashiru, in a telephone interview with our reporter, insisted that there is nowhere in the section referenced by Mr Babalakin that empowers an individual to take a position on behalf of the Council without being authorised by the Council.

According to Mr Ashiru, the governing council has more than one member and decisions of the council are not reached “in corners of anyone’s room but at the council’s chamber in the presence of other members.”

He said; “We are familiar with the University Act and we have read it many times. There is just nowhere an individual can take any unilateral decision on behalf of the council. Let the council chair also tell us where Section 7 being mentioned by the chairman replaces the use of ‘council’ with the ‘council chairman.’

“Good enough, our chairman is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and some of our members are lecturers of law. What we cannot take is arbitrariness and someone not believing in any constituted authority. We won’t be taken for a ride. Let the chairman tell us when the decision on the action he has just taken was decided by council members.”

A cat and mouse relationship between the university’s chapter of ASUU and Mr Babalakin had developed  over some decisions taken in the past.

During the union’s prolonged nationwide industrial action, the council chairman had, last year, summoned a meeting with some lecturers which was fixed for the university’s Senate chamber.

ASUU had kicked against the decision, which it said was targeted at balkanising its union. It, therefore, fixed its congress for the same venue and same time.

Premium Times 

More young people, especially girls attempting suicide – Study

A new study that shows adolescents are attempting suicide by overdose at increasing rates is further evidence that the pervasive public health problem needs more conversation and money, experts say.

This is contained in the report, published recently in The Journal of Pediatrics, by researchers at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and the Central Ohio Poison Centre.

It was founded that medication overdose suicide attempts have more than doubled since 2000, and more than tripled for girls.

“I think this all adds up to an opportunity to educate and build awareness and find out what solutions are out there for this.

“We have so many opportunities across our system to do better. This should be a call to mobilise resources,’’ said John Ackerman, Suicide Prevention Coordinator.

The stakes are high. Joanne Meyers, of Northfield, Illinois, knows firsthand – her daughter Elyssa died by suicide at age 16 in 2004.

In 2006, Meyers formed Elyssa’s Mission, a Northbrook-based nonprofit that works with about 200 schools in Illinois, Ackerman, also clinical psychologist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and one of the authors of the new study, said.

It trains staff and teaches students about the warning signs of suicide and how to get help for themselves or their friends.

Students are then screened at the end of the programme and referred for help.

“It’s important to me that we talk about it because talking about suicide is the only way we’ll save lives.

“We didn’t know back then,” Meyers said.

In the past few years, Meyers said more schools seem interested in suicide awareness, and in 2018 the group added 50 new schools.

Suicide prevention in schools is an important part of a public health solution to this increasing problem, said Ackerman.

Suicide screenings should also be commonplace at primary care physicians’ offices, he said, and parents should know what resources are available.

“We need a public health approach … like we’ve had with cancer, with HIV, with motor vehicle accidents,” he said.

“There’s a clear gap in how often we directly confront the issue of suicidal influence and behavior. It’s an uncomfortable topic that demands adults and young people to become comfortable.”

In the latest study, Ackerman and other researchers analysed data reported to the poison centre from 2000 through November 2018, finding more than 1.6 million suspected suicide attempts by self-poisoning in children and young adults, ages 10 to 24.

They found that from 2000 to 2010 there was a decrease in suicide attempts by overdose among 10 to 15-year-olds, but then a “dramatic and persistent” increase from 2011 to 2018, ranging from more than 120 per cent to nearly 300 per cent.

The increase was driven mostly by females, who experts say tend to attempt suicide more often than males – using overdose most often as a method – but do not die from suicide attempts as often as males.

The study also showed an increase in suicide attempts by overdose among 16 to 18-year-olds during the 19-year period, but no significant difference for those 19 and older.

While researchers could not explain why these suicide attempts are increasing in young people – or why there appears to be a shift around 2011 – experts point out a rise in social media usage and the opiate crisis as possible explanations.

Study authors also say more research is needed, and that reasons for suicide are often complex and multifaceted.

In another recent study, also from Nationwide Children’s Hospital, researchers noted a spike in suicide deaths among 10 to 17-year-olds in the month following the March 31, 2017, release of the Netflix series “13 Reasons Why.”

The series was widely panned by suicide prevention experts as glorifying suicide.

The research is the latest in a string of evidence in recent years showing suicide is on an upward trend, including last year’s report from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention that showed suicide was a leading cause of death across the U.S., with increasing rates in nearly every state.

Even with improved mental health awareness in recent years, Ackerman said, “we need more hands on deck, more investment in policy.

“The infrastructure on how we support at-risk kids is pretty weak.

“There’s a lot of stigma and a lot of shame. We make people who are vulnerable jump through a lot of hoops to get help.”

Funding is a barrier, he pointed out, with local nonprofits doing much of the suicide prevention work in their communities.

“There has to be more money put into this,” said Jonathan Singer, Associate Professor of Social Work at Loyola University Chicago and the president-elect of the Washington, DC-based American Association of Suicidology.

The funding should match the need, he said, noting that research shows suicide is the second highest leading cause of death among young people, ages 10-24.

“If we had a billion for suicide prevention research and intervention efforts, then what we could do is actually fund research that answers some of the questions like, is this really a social media thing or not.

“We could pay to have somebody dedicated in each school district … who is a suicide prevention coordinator,” Singer said.

According to him, if suicide prevention efforts and screenings are increased in schools, communities will need more services to treat children identified as needing help.

At Elyssa’s Mission, educators reached no fewer than 43,000 students last school year, said Jodie Segal, Director of Education.

Of those students, 2,700 were identified as needing help through the screening test given at the completion of the group’s presentation.

She added that 74 of those students were hospitalized for an imminent risk for suicide.

“There’s been a big shift in schools recognising that this is a big issue. Potentially, those 74 kids’ lives were saved … and that’s just last school year.

“We want to be proactive. If they can get support and treatment, they’re not going to get to the place where they have a suicide attempt,” she said. (dpa/NAN)