Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Five Nigerian police officers who were accused of killing Boko Haram’s founder Mohammed Yusuf while in their custody have been reinstated, a police oversight body said on Monday.

The officers were charged with committing a terrorist act and unlawfully killing the Islamist group’s spiritual leader during days of unrest in the northeast city of Maiduguri in July 2009.

The clashes, in which about 800 Boko Haram followers were killed, prompted an escalation in violence that has since left at least 20,000 dead and made over 2.6 million more homeless.

A judge in Abuja in late December 2015 acquitted the police on the grounds the prosecution could not establish a case against them. The ruling attracted little publicity at the time.

A spokesman for the Police Service Commission, Ikechukwu Ani, confirmed a report in the Daily Trust newspaper that the officers were now back on the beat.

“It is true. They have all been reinstated. The Police Service Commission acted upon a memo sent to it by the inspector general of police,” he told AFP.

“The memo was accompanied with the court orders that they should be reinstated. The court acquitted them of all the charges and we have no choice but to obey the orders of court.”

Amaechi Nwaokolo, a Nigeria security analyst at the Roman Institute for International Studies in Abuja, said the acquittal and reinstatement was “a source of concern”.

Boko Haram has long used the fact that no-one has been prosecuted or convicted for Yusuf’s death as a reason for its armed struggle, he argued.

“This development will further give Boko Haram a tool for recruitment and radicalisation of its ranks by using it to show the lack of justice it has been preaching,” he said.

“Extra-judicial killings by state security apparatus give terrorist groups the needed tool and justification to recruit others and carry out terrorist acts as retaliation.

“It was the killing of Yusuf that led to the escalation of the violence and the degeneration of the conflict to the level we have today.”

Nigeria’s security services have been repeatedly accused of abuses against civilians during the insurgency, including arbitrary arrests and extra-judicial killing.

Many civilians have been held for years without access to lawyers or being brought to court.

Last week, 475 were released from custody after it was found there was not enough evidence to prosecute them, at mass trials of suspects at a military facility in central Niger state.

A total of 468 others were freed last October. Taken together, they account for more than half of those on trial.

Published in News & Stories

The special press statement of former President Olusegun Obasanjo urging President Muhammadu Buhari not to run in 2019 drew more flaks yesterday. At a news conference, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, a former Nasarawa State governor urged Chief Olusegun Obasanjo to pull the brake to avoid a self-inflicted injury and personal tragedy of slipping into irrelevance.

In early February this year, former President Olusegun Obasanjo published an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari titled: The way out: A clarion call for coalition for Nigeria movement. In it, he raised three fundamental issues.

One, he called on the President to forget his re-election ambition -an ambition which he has yet to declare in 2019 because of his failure on many fronts.

Two, he expressed his loss of faith in the capacity of our two biggest parties, APC (All Progressives Congress) and PDP (Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), to drive the nation’s development.

Three, he advocated the formation of Coalition for Nigeria, a movement according to him, “that will drive Nigeria up and forward.”

Two weeks or so later, former President Ibrahim Babangida’s media aide, Kassim Afegbua, issued a statement on his behalf in which he claimed that the general too advised the President to bury his ambition for a second term in office because of his alleged failures and because the nation needed a digital and not an analogue leader.

The general promptly denied authorising the statement. Both Afegbua’s statement and Babangida’s are still wrapped in controversy. Afegbua insists his statement remains authentic.

In his own signed statement titled: “My Counsel to the nation”, the former president advised the political parties to play by the rules and the government to be proactive in matters of security challenges.

Perhaps, we should read his denial between the lines. While I am prepared to give Gen. Babangida the benefit of doubt for now, I would like to point out that he and his aide appear to have been encouraged to issue their separate statements by Chief Obasanjo’s letter. It is as if they wanted to take advantage of this to say what they had been itching to say about the president all along. I wish to remind the general that although men have short memories; history has a long memory. We can trace nearly all our present economic and political problems to his transition programme. We cannot forget SAP (Structural Adjustment Programme) that sapped the economy, or the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election for which the nation is still paying a stiff price. It is not always advisable to be holier-than-thou.

l have listened to and read the various responses to Obasanjo’s letter. I am encouraged by those responses because they point to our willingness to engage in a national dialogue, be it organised or informal, on matters that affect our country and our collective interests.

I can think of no single Nigerian who does not want our country to make the great leap from a struggling third world nation to a first world nation.

We are all in a hurry for our country to make that leap. Nigerians have never been found wanting in offering informed suggestions on what should be the focus of our political, economic and social development such that we could meld the multiplicity of tongues into a modern nation in which, to borrow from the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, “we are judged by the contents of the mind and the brain and not by tribes and religions. Nation-building remains a work in progress in all countries. This is often slow and frustrating when the process itself impinges on our individual ambition.”

I believe that it was in this same spirit that Chief Obasanjo issued the letter. It would be uncharitable to ascribe anything other than the purest of patriotic motives to his recent outing. As former military head of state and as a civilian president, Chief Obasanjo is a respected and illustrious son of our soil. He would be morally remiss should he choose to keep quiet when he sees things going wrong in the land.

For a total of eleven and half years in power, he too struggled with the daunting challenges of our national development. He knows the challenges of ruling a multi-ethnic and multi-religious nation faced with the crises of under-development.

I would like to believe that he is in a better position than any of us to appreciate the difficulties that anyone in Aso Rock faces today. I believe he, more than the rest of us, should have some sympathy for anyone grappling with the historically depressed economy and the complex dynamics of national development and progress.

I decided to dialogue with the movers and the shakers in our news media this morning/afternoon on the issues raised by the former president. I am not here to defend President Buhari.

He is quite capable of, and in a better position, to defend himself much better than me. I have initiated this press dialogue for two reasons.

The first is to underline my belief in the power of dialogue as a veritable instrument through which we can freely contribute to the resolution of our problems and address our challenges.

Human societies are best served with’ the aggregation of ideas that shape their focus. The late president, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, once put this very well when he said it was “better to jaw-jaw than to war-war”.

Two, I too, being a humble political leader in my own right, as a two-term governor of my state, Nasarawa, and as a ranking senator of the Federal Republic, I have as large a stake as anyone else in the progress and the development of our nation at all levels. I, too, cannot keep quiet when I see attempts by anyone or a group of persons to undermine the integrity of the Office of the President, the integrity of our government and the integrity of our political system. I have earlier said it would be unfair not to accept that Chief Obasanjo was motivated by the good of the country. In his letter, he said, “Some may ask what does Obasanjo want again?” He proceeded to answer the question in the third person thus: “Obasanjo has wanted nothing other than the best for Nigeria and Nigerians…”

Was he entirely motivated by that noble sentiment? I find that hard to believe. Motives are not always as honourable or as altruistic as one might be made to believe, particularly when such a man as this is so highly placed that we tend to place him above the shenanigans of petty politics. I found it difficult to completely ignore what appears to me like the dark motives hovering over his action because I see it as a behavioural pattern that began with his 2014 letter to the then President Goodluck Jonathan, titled: “Before it is too late”. It seems to me he believes that that letter alone cost Dr. Jonathan the presidency. So, if he is fatigued by President Buhari, he can resort to the same weapon with probably the same consequences. It is a long shot.

No one can deny him the right to criticise a sitting president but, his method leaves much to be desired. He cannot, therefore, escape the charge of impure motive and that he took this step, not to try and set things right for the sake of the nation but to promote Obasanjo for the sake of Obasanjo.

Being a former president, he has an unimpeded access to the president and can, therefore, seek to influence him in the privacy of the seat of power. Indeed, in the early years of the Buhari administration, Chief Obasanjo was a frequent presence in Aso Rock. I believe he frequented the seat of power in support of the administration. I now wonder why he suddenly decided to turn a friend into an enemy and rubbish everything the President has done so far in a little over two and half years.

In a civilised political culture, it is taboo for former presidents to openly take a sitting president to the cleaners. Our former head of state, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, has faithfully kept to this time-honoured culture of a former ruler not washing the dirty linens of a current ruler rather gleefully in the public. So, have former President Shehu Shagari and former head of state, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar.

The implications for the polity of a former president regaling the public with a litany of the failures of a sitting president is a calculated and unholy effort to destroy him politically.

The question is, if Chief Obasanjo meant well for Buhari, his administration and Nigeria, why did he not choose the option of quietly offering his advice to the president? In taking his case to the rowdy market place of sensationalism, he clearly intended to score cheap political points at the expense of the President. He intended to undermine the Buhari administration, subject him to public ridicule and impugn his moral strength and integrity to lead the nation.

As he must have obviously expected, his statement was intended to heat and is heating up the polity and causing confusion at this critical time when the myriads of our national challenges commend themselves to our statesmen and women for sober reflections rather than indulgence in crass sensationalism. It is a disservice to the country.

No one, not even Buhari’s most rabid supporters, would be unfair to themselves enough to suggest that everything is right with the administration. It is true that the government has not met the expectations of the generality of Nigerians. But, it is not for lack of capacity or the unwillingness on the part of the President to respond to the needs of the people and those of the country. I know that we invested high expectations on the Buhari administration but is it fair and realistic for us to expect the administration to solve all the problems it inherited in less than three years? Human and resources management towards achieving a desired result is not amenable to the waving of a magic wand.

No administration is a total success and none is a total failure. Chief Obasanjo cannot honestly claim that he ran a perfect and totally successful administration because he did not.

Every administration grapples with problems thrown at it by circumstances beyond its control. President Buhari inherited an economy that was unsteady on its feet. He also inherited the security problems such as Boko Haram, armed robberies and kidnappings.

Yes, I agree, that under his watch these problems should grow less, not more. But the solution to problems such as these is a slow and agonising process. He has no powers to simply make them disappear overnight.

The President was fully aware of these problems and challenges when he sought the consent of the electorate in 2015.

He did so in the hope that with the support and the goodwill of all Nigerians, he could tackle them. I know he has not given up on that. I do not think he intends to leave a bleeding, disunited nation and disarticulated socio-economic development at the end of his tenure.

He seems to be overwhelmed by the problems because while problems rain down, solutions to them take time to be effective. I think the President, in the circumstances, deserves support and encouragement rather than antagonism from a constituency that should give him that support and encouragement as he seeks to address these and other problems in his own way.

I do not intend to comment on all of Obasanjo’s letter seriatim, I will deal with three of his allegations, namely: the president’s alleged clannishness, his management of the economy and his anti-corruption war.

Before I do so, let me say at this point that I am worried by the antics of Chief Obasanjo and his penchant for promoting himself as the only competent Nigerian leader. Since he left office on October 1, 1979, to local and international applause Chief Obasanjo has systematically sought to undermine every federal administration after him.

He has today set up himself as the moral conscience of the nation. He believes he has acquired the wisdom of King Solomon and has consequently imposed on himself the right to decide who rules us and how we should be ruled.

Perhaps, part of the reason is that before leaving office in 2007, his party, the PDP, conferred on him the titles of “Maker of modern Nigeria and father of the nation”. Such titles do have a heady way of making a man seeing his head bedecked in the halos of self- righteousness.

There is a process for changing our governments through the instrumentality of elections. Chief Obasanjo, one of the architects of that process and a beneficiary to boot, ought to support that process and let the people decide who they want to rule them. It is not for him to decide for the people or the President.

No one should arrogate to himself eternal verities in the administration of his country. It is his consuming ambition to have his hands on the levers of power under all our presidents. When he loses that grip, he turns against the incumbent in office. He undermined Gen. Babangida’s economic programme – SAP, with his statement that SAP should have a human face and the milk of human kindness. He denigrated Gen. Babangida by advising people to whom the former president says good morning to check their wrist watches to make sure it is morning.

The Constitution of the Federal Republic obliges the president to compose the executive council of the federation in a manner that reflects the federal character. I do not see that the council is dominated by people from Katsina, the President’s home state.

Nor do I see that the major ministries such as finance, power and steel, housing, transport are held by people from that state or his part of the country. All these ministries are held by competent men and women from the southern parts of the country. What does this say about Buhari’s clannishness?

I am aware of criticisms that the President appointed only northerners as heads of his security agencies. There may be some merit in a national spread but a president reserves the right to fill such positions with those who command his implicit trust and confidence. That is neither unconstitutional nor a moral crime.

The management of the economy has always been a frustrating experience but gallant efforts have been made at critical times to reposition the national economy. SAP was one of such efforts intended to structurally reform the base of the economy.

The late Gen. Sani Abacha’s Vision 10-10 and 20-20 was initiated for the same purpose. So was Chief Obasanjo’s own NEEDS. If these efforts had succeeded in the past, President Buhari would have had an easy ride on the management of the economy today. The recession, for instance, was not Buhari’s making; nor can the security challenges be laid at his door.

Poor management of the economy in the recent past birthed the recession. I cannot think of any steps the President has taken with deleterious effects on the economy. And to put a fine point on it, the minister of finance and the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) are not from Katsina State.

President Buhari knows only too well that if he does not get the economy right, he would have a tough time trying to get anything else right. He is struggling with that challenge with my personal sympathies.

Chief Obasanjo touts himself as the champion of the anti-corruption war. It is fair to give him some credit for waging the war with the setting up of EFCC (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission). It was the right step towards caging the monster that has wrecked immeasurable havoc on the country. But, as laudable as that was, Chief Obasanjo soon turned the commission into an attack dog against his known and suspected political enemies or detractors. He used it to undermine elected governors in Plateau, Oyo, Bayelsa and Anambra states. The lawmakers in those states were induced or forced by the commission at the behest of Chief Obasanjo to remove their governors from office in a manner that insulted our constitutional government.

In each of those cases, a handful of legislators, sitting either in a hotel outside the states or in a private house removed the governors from office. We must thank their Lordships Justice Niki Tobi of blessed memory and Justice James Ogebe for stepping this egregious abuse of legislative powers when they, as chairmen of the appeal court panels sitting in Ibadan over Ladoja’s appeal against his unconstitutional removal from office, quashed his removal and affirmed that the court was the primary custodian of the constitution; not the president. That ended Chief Obasanjo’s apparent reign of presidential terror tactics against the state governors.

Chief Obasanjo said that President Buhari is selective in his anti-corruption war. I agree with him because if the President were not selective, Chief Obasanjo himself would be in the dock today on trial on charges of corruption arising from the corrupt practices in the pursuit of his third term gambit in the National Assembly in 2006.

Today, he denies that he ever nursed such ambition. And being a man much favoured by  God, he has repeatedly said that if he had wanted it and asked the almighty for it, he would have given him  the third term.

He knows as well as I, and other leading members of the PDP, that he badly wanted it and initiated the process of constitutional amendment. He bribed each member of the National Assembly who signed to support the amendment, with the whopping sum of N50 million to make the constitutional amendment scale through.

The fresh, mint money was taken in its original boxes presumably from the vaults of the CBN and distributed among the legislators. The money was not his and it was not appropriated by the National Assembly as required by law. I, therefore, agree that in failing to make the former president account for that money. President Buhari is waging his anti-corruption war selectively.

Nor, should we forget that President Buhari has also not bothered to interrogate Obasanjo’s role in the Haliburton scandal for which some Americans are cooling their heels in jail.

Perhaps, President Buhari might look into the Siemens affairs in which the Obasanjo administration was indicted and for which people were on trial. What became of the trial?

I worked closely with Chief Obasanjo in his eight years in office as president when l was governor of Nasarawa State. I found many things to admire in him. I admire his patriotism and his hard work. But, he systematically sabotaged his legacy by bending the system to his personal service and promotion.

I do not admire his single-minded determination to promote himself as the strongest and the most incorruptible leader Nigeria has ever had. He waged his anti-corruption war in a manner intended to rubbish all our revered institutions such as the court and the National Assembly and leave him as the only Nigerian without palm oil on his hands.

His lack of democratic temperament and his refusal to honour the mother of all our laws, the 1999 Constitution as well as the constitution of the PDP, birthed the culture of impunity in our country.

He had no respect for the rule of law and, therefore disobeyed court orders at will. This once prompted the then Chief Justice of Nigeria, Mr. Justice Muhammadu Uwais, to say that a government that did not obey the courts was a bad government.

In his eight years in office, Chief Obasanjo did not run a constitutional government, partly because he had no patience with the niceties of democracy and partly because he believed the law should serve him, and not he the law.

At almost every turn, he undermined the various pillars of constitutional government. For instance, contrary to the provisions of the constitution, he imposed a state of emergency on Plateau and Ekiti states.

He had no powers to do so but since he saw himself as both the law and the last strongman standing in our country, he assumed unchallengeable powers. The courts quaked over his constitutional rampage. Our democracy is passing through a wrenching experience of constitutional government today because at the end of his eight years in power, Chief Obasanjo left our democracy in a lurch.

He was like a wrecking ball. In 2007, he alone decided his successor in office contrary to the rules of the game. He imposed governorship candidates of the party too in 2003.

You would recall that the PDP gave Chief Obasanjo its platform for eight years from 1999 to 2003. Yet, when the party began to have problems in 2014, Chief Obasanjo jumped ship and publicly tore his party card into pieces. He owes whatever he is today to the party. I thought a man made by the party should sacrifice his time and effort to save it from imploding. We wonder if ingratitude has a better definition than that. But, with Chief Obasanjo, ingratitude has a different meaning, obviously.

His Coalition for Nigeria Movement (CNM) is a red herring across the path of our constitutional government. He is free to form a political party and pursue his ambition of being the power behind the throne but such a national movement would achieve no discernible purpose in the economic management and the social administration of the country.

I believe that Chief Obasanjo is too high and too big in the estimation of the people to permit himself the continued sickening indulgence in political skullduggery.

I believe that the Nigerian people and the Nigerian state have been most kind to him. Chief Obasanjo has a moral obligation to make the country succeed in solving its myriads of problems.

That, I believe, is one way he can give back to the country that has given him so much. As a friend, I wish to advise the former president to pull back from the dangerous path of rubbishing all presidents that came into office after him. Bringing everyone down is not a patriotic duty. I fear that if he continues along this path, he would, sooner than later over reach himself and begin the inevitable descent into national nuisance and irrelevance. That would be a self-inflicted wound and a personal tragedy.


Published in Politics

Boko Haram jihadists launched an attack on a girls boarding school in northeast Nigeria but the students and teachers fled to safety, witnesses said Monday.

A convoy of fighters in pickup trucks descended on Dapchi village in the Bursari area of Yobe state around 6 pm (1700 GMT) targeting the school, resident Sheriff Aisami told AFP.

“When they stormed the village they began shooting and setting off explosives,” Aisami said.”This drew the attention of the girls in the Girls Science Secondary School, so the girls and the teachers were able to escape before the attackers got into the school.”

Unable to kidnap the girls, the Boko Haram fighters looted the school before fleeing.

“There was an attack on the girls secondary school in Dapchi by Boko Haram,” said a member of a local civilian militia battling the extremists.

“Obviously the attack was meant to abduct school girls but luckily they found none of the girls as they were taken away by teachers before they arrived,” said the militia member, who declined to provide his name for safety reasons.

“Military jets were deployed and are in pursuit”, he added.

It’s unclear whether anyone was killed in the violence.

The attack recalls Boko Haram’s audacious kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls from the town of Chibok in April, 2014.

The kidnapping drew the world’s attention to the jihadist insurgency in northeast Nigeria.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, a former general, came to power in 2015 on a platform promising to stamp out the Islamist movement.

But despite retaking swathes of territory from Boko Haram, the group continues to stage attacks targeting both civilians and military targets, and frequently uses young girls as suicide bombers. Since 2009, the Boko Haram insurgency has left at least 20,000 dead and made over 2.6 million more homeless.

Published in Headliners

Pep Guardiola’s quest to win an unprecedented quadruple with Manchester City came to a stunning and controversial end when they fell to a 1-0 defeat at third-tier Wigan in the fifth round of the FA Cup on Monday.

In an uncanny repeat of the 2013 FA Cup final, in which City had a player sent off before losing to a late Wigan winner, Guardiola’s side had Fabian Delph dismissed amid stormy scenes before Will Grigg’s 79th-minute goal decided the game.

A famous night was marred, however, by a post-match pitch invasion by Wigan supporters which saw a number of them confront City players, with striker Sergio Aguero required to defend himself.

Earlier the drama had been provided by Northern Ireland international Grigg who capitalised on an error by Kyle Walker who allowed a pass to run through to the Wigan man and kept ahead of John Stones before finishing clinically from just inside the area.

It was only City’s second defeat to English opposition since losing an FA Cup semi-final to Arsenal last April while their opponents can now look forward to a quarter-final home tie with Southampton.

The pivotal sending-off arrived in first half injury-time when Fabian Delph made a rash challenge on Wigan’s Max Power, prompting referee Anthony Taylor to pull a yellow card out of his pocket before changing his mind and producing red.

That infuriated City players, who surrounded the referee, and the dispute spilled into the rival technical areas with Sergio Aguero having to be dragged away by Guardiola as he argued furiously with Wigan coaches.

The scene turned even uglier, with television cameras in the tunnel capturing footage of Guardiola and Wigan manager Paul Cook in a major verbal confrontation and being kept apart by staff.

Wasteful Aguero

City might have enjoyed a far more comfortable evening had their record goalscorer Aguero not missed a golden opportunity after just two minutes, heading over Bernardo Silva’s pinpoint cross from just six yards.

And home keeper Christian Walton needed to be alert a few moments later, diving smartly to parry away a fierce strike from Ilkay Gundogan.

Guardiola had made six changes for the tie, while still fielding a strong line-up, but two of his fringe players — full-back Danilo and back-up goalkeeper Claudio Bravo were guilty of errors which offered the hosts a glimmer of hope.

First Bravo and Danilo dithered in dealing with the ball, almost presenting Gareth Roberts with a chance on the six-yard line.

And then Danilo was robbed of the ball by Roberts, the ball breaking for Grigg who raced half the length of the field before shooting into the side-netting.

City were enjoying the bulk of possession but, without the rested Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling, were struggling to create clear chances.

They came close, from Leroy Sane’s 26th-minute corner which Gundogan flicked across the six-yard area, but defender Aymeric Laporte failed to connect with the ball at his feet.

When City next threatened, after Stones headed down Delph’s cross, Fernandinho’s shot rose over by some distance when he looked certain to score.

Gundogan and Danilo, twice, also threatened the Wigan goal and Walton saved superbly from an Aguero drive, moments before the explosive dismissal of Delph.

Guardiola brought on England right-back Walker as a half-time substitute, moving Danilo over to Delph’s vacant left-back spot.

Despite their disadvantage, City still enjoyed the majority of possession although, apart from Chey Dunkley blocking a Danilo shot, there was little to concern Walton as the tie approached the 65-minute mark and Guardiola opted to bring De Bruyne into the fray.

The Belgian’s introduction brought a far greater threat from City, particularly from set-pieces.

On 73 minutes, De Bruyne found Aguero at the near-post but his shot was blocked and Danilo maintained the pressure with a low centre across the goalline before Grigg’s dramatic intervention.

Published in Sports

PHOTO CREDIT: Michael Tubes Creation.

PHOTO CREDIT: Michael Tubes Creation.

PHOTO CREDIT: Michael Tubes Creation.

PHOTO CREDIT: Michael Tubes Creation.

Published in Arts & Culture

The Senate on Thursday invited the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, to appear before it to explain how the $600 million Euro bond sourced from the Chinese Government was used.

The upper chamber said $600 million loan received to revive the power sector was allegedly diverted by the Federal Government to remodel four airports in the country.

It noted that there was $600 million Euro bond from the Chinese Government for the rehabilitation of the power sector, out of which $100 million was allegedly diverted as counterpart funding for the remodeling of Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt Airports.

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Public Accounts, Senator Mathew Urhghide, issued the summon at the meeting of the committee on Thursday.

Urhoghide, (Edo South), said the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi and the Director- General of Debt Management Office (DMO), Mrs. Patience Oniha, would also appear before the committee on the matter.

Urhoghide, who spoke when the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transportation, Sabiu Zakari, appeared before his committee, said those invited should appear before the committee next week to explain the rationale behind the movement of such loans from its original purpose to another.

He said there was the need to establish the desirability of the loan.

Published in Business and Economy

”My mistress usually inserts sticks inside my vagina, hits me with iron rods, wires and also ties me with chain whenever she is going out.

“My Aunty always use blade to cut my skin.

“These scars, injuries on my head, body and lips were inflicted on me by my Aunty for 4 years, ‘’ Miss Faith Nwanja, 12-year-old house help narrated her ordeal in her dialect.

Nwanje, currently in custody of Ezza-South Local Government in Ebony state, disclosed in Abakaliki, the dehumanizing treatment meted on her by her mistress, Mrs Nkechinyere Bartholomew in Onitsha, Anambra state.

The girl, a native of Okoffia-Ohaji, said Bartholomew, now at large, subjected her to serious torture for the four years.

The victim said she was suffering great pains in parts of her body where her mistress used different objects, including iron rods and wire to beat her.

Mrs Ngozi Nwanja, the mother of the victim, said her daughter was 8 when she was handed over to Bartholomew.

She said efforts to see her daughter was not successful as the Bartholomew’s mother always claimed that her daughter’s contact number was not reachable.

“When Bartholomew came for my child through her mother who resided in Idembia Ezza-South LGA, she promised that her daughter will take good care of her.’’

The brutalised maid

The Vice Chairman of the Council, Mrs Caro Ewa, explained that the victim was brought to her on February 12 by Head of Department of Education and Social Welfare of the council.

She said the Chairman of the council, Mr Sunday Ogodo, ordered the arrest of the mother and brother of the accused because they were conniving to shield Bartholomew from arrest.

“Her mother and brother have been released by the police, but her younger sister is still in detention because she stays in Onitsha with them and also brought the victim back to Ebonyi along with her aunty.

“No government will support this evil, because the level of injuries on the child’s body is weird,” Ewa said.

Meanwhile, Mr Godwin Igwe, Head of Department, Child Development in the state Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, described the degree of injures on the victim as “real damage’’.

According to him, the perpetrator boasted that she will settle the matter with money.

“This is worrisome. There is increasing cases of child brutalization.

“From all indications Nwanja’s hand is condemned and we don’t know the extent of damage to her brain and other parts of her body,” Igwe said.

Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State

Igwe appealed to the government, Civil Society Organisation (CSO), philanthropists, International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), the police and public who are interested in Child protection to save children from abuses.

Bartholomew, he said, would be prosecuted to serve as deterrent to others and the victim would be taken to the hospital for medical examination and treatment.

Nwanja with her mangled arms

“We will take steps to stop the trend as its portraying a negative image of the country before the International community,” Igwe said.

Published in News & Stories

South African stocks index rose as much as five per cent on Thursday, putting the main index on track for its biggest one-day gain in more than three years.

The currency remained on the front foot, soaring to its firmest since early 2015, in the wake of Zuma’s exit.

Analysts have, however, warned the rally faces serious obstacles ahead of a budget speech next Wednesday.

Zuma quit late on Wednesday, reluctantly heeding orders by the ruling African National Congress ( ANC ) to bring an end to a nine-year tenure punctuated by scandals, stagnant economic growth and policy uncertainty.

As at 1530 GMT, the blue chip Top-40 index surged four per cent to 52,665 points, pulling back from a high of 53,072 achieved earlier but still on course for its biggest one-day gain since Sept. 2015.

The broader All-share index was up by 3.72 per cent at 59,533 points.

“The big news is that Zuma has now resigned and that has created a lot of euphoria.

“South African incorporated, banks, retailers and the like are all looking sharply better as a result,” said Independent Securities’ trader Ryan Woods.

South African banks considered the barometer of both economic and political sentiment were a feature on the gainers’ list.

The banking index surged 5.8 per cent with Nedbank rising 5.37 per cent and rival FirstRand up 6.4 per cent.

Banks have largely borne the brunt of Zuma’s policy decisions that included the sacking of two respected finance ministers, Nhlanhla Nene and Pravin Gordhan.

That, along with a weak economy, contributed to sovereign credit ratings downgrades to junk by S&P Global Ratings and Fitch.

In reaction to Zuma’s resignation, ratings agency Moody’s said it was focused on the new leadership’s response to economic challenges. S&P Global Ratings said the leadership change would not immediately affect the credit status.

Cyril Ramaphosa, former chairman of African biggest telecoms operator MTN Group, was sworn in as president on Thursday.

Ramaphosa, who has vowed to fight corruption and revitalise the economy, is seen by business leaders and investors as well placed to turn around the economy.

South Africa’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is estimated to grow by less than one percent this year.

Another key issue facing the 65-year-old president is policy uncertainty in South Africa’s mining industry, an important economic engine, which has been fighting in court with Zuma’s mines minister, Mosebenzi Zwane, over an increase in black ownership targets.

But some analysts said that the former union leader’s to-do list is way too long to make an immediate impact.

In the foreign exchange market, the rand advanced to levels last seen in February 2015.

“The good gains the rand has made could be extended toward 11.55/dollar, and move toward 11.00/dollar baring any further credit rating downgrades for S.A. and a credit positive budget,” said Investec’s Chief Analyst Annabel Bishop in a note.

At 1515 GMT, the rand was at 11.6600 against the dollar, having reached a session-best of 11.6025 earlier per cent stronger than its New York overnight close and at levels last seen in Feb.  2015.

“The economy is coming off an extremely low base so there is good chance the optimism will be around for some time, but Ramaphosa has to very soon move from the honeymoon phase to the doing phase,” said Chief Executive of Canon Assets Management Adrian Saville.

Published in Business and Economy
Friday, 16 February 2018 01:05

Army places N3m bounty on Shekau

The Nigerian Army on Thursday offered a N3million cash reward for anyone with credible information that would lead to the arrest of the factional leader of the Boko Haram sect, Abubakar Shekau.

The Director of Army Public Relations, Brig-Gen. Sani, said in a statement issued in Abuja that anybody with credible information on Shekau should contact the Military Command and Control Centre of Operation Lafiya Dole or the Nigerian Army Call Centre number 193.

According to the military authorities, Shekau, who has be on the run now disguises as a woman in hijabs due to the heat turned on him by troops in the Sambisa general area.

The statement reads: “The Nigerian Army will give out Three Million Naira (N3,000,000.00k) cash reward for any credible information that leads to the arrest of the fugitive factional Boko Haram terrorists’ group leader, Abubakar Shekau.

Published in Headliners

A former Minister of Internal Affairs during the administration of President Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, Gen. John Shagaya, has been reported dead.

Although details of the incident were still sketchy, The PUNCH learnt that he died on Sunday in an auto crash while traveling from Lantang to Jos, Plateau State.

His corpse has been reportedly taken to the mortuary.

Shagaya was, before his death, chairman, Governing Board of National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru in Jos; and his last public assignment was about two weeks ago in Abuja.

Wreckage of Gen. Shagaya’s car

When contacted to speak on the accident, the spokesperson of Plateau State Police Command, Matthias Tyopev, said, “I don’t want to speculate, please leave me out of it, I beg. You are the one telling me.”

But the President of Middle Belt Youth Council, Emma Zopmal, confirmed the incident to The PUNCH.

He said, “Yes, it is true. Shagaya was involved in auto crash while coming to Jos from Lantang.

“One of the front tyres of his car burst and he died. You can quote me.

“My friend, Satmak, who was very close to him and the family was the one that called to tell me that John Shagaya is dead.

“I intended calling the family, but I have been so busy.”

Shagaya’s childhood friend, Gen. John Temlong, also confirmed the death to our correspondent.

A close friend of Shagaya family who did not want to be named also confirmed his death.

Wreckage of Gen. Shagaya’s car

He said, “it is true that Shagaya is dead. We have received calls from prominent elders in Tarok ethnic nationality and Lantang.

“Being a big man and title holder, maybe his people want a Tarok person to speak. Unfortunately, they don’t have a traditional ruler for now.”

Published in Business and Economy
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