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Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka on Saturday said the government of President Muhammadu Buhari has failed Nigeria after terrorists abducted hundreds of school girls in Zamfara State.
Soyinka spoke in Abeokuta, Ogun State, at the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), Ogun award lecture and public presentation of ‘Chronicles of the happiest people on earth,’ the latest book authored by him.
According to Soyinka, it is important for all to know that these were abnormal times, but that it seemed to him as times of shirking of responsibilities in key areas.
“We cannot permit ourselves to accept the child hostage taking as a way of life, we just can not continue in this fashion, some thing drastic and meaningful has to take place and it has to be collective,” he said.
Soyinka emphasised that this was no longer the responsibility of those at the top, in charge of security, in charge of governance as they had clearly failed the populace.
“They have failed us, there is no point trying to reason it up, trying to give an excuse, putting blame or whatever. The important thing is that we are very close to accepting a culture of the unacceptable,” he added.
The Nobel laureate said it had reached a point the states were shutdown when the children were kidnapped to sound the urgency that child hostage taking would no longer be acceptable.
Soyinka said it might sound extreme, but said “we don’t know what else one can propose at this particular time, yes life must go on but even those activities will generate and enhance our very existence.
“I think we have to take on a tonality of regrets, of the unacceptable, protestation and mobilisation on whatever level it is possible as a community of human beings,” Soyinka said in a report by The Nation.
The bandits who struck at the Government Secondary School, Jangebe in Zamfara State,early yesterday ,appeared to have outsmarted security agents in the area in a game of wits in the moments leading to the invasion of the school.
The gunmen,according to sources,seemed to have divided themselves into groups,with one group engaging the security agents in a battle while another group moved into the school premises to abduct the girls.
This strategy,it was gathered,kept the security agents busy and unable to know what was going on at the school.
Preliminary report made available to the Federal Government yesterday put the number of the abductees at 307 as against the 317 initially reported.
Seven of the students escaped.
President Muhammadu Buhari,in his first reaction to the development yesterday, warned bandits against over-stretching their luck, saying the only thing shielding them from certain destruction is the restraint for the lives of the innocent captives.
The Nation gathered that security agents engaged in a fierce battle with some of the bandits who were used as decoys to divert attention from the abduction.
The preliminary report to government showed that the bandits marched the girls in the dark into the bush.
The military and security agencies have already located where the girls are being kept..
But the prevalent harmattan in some parts of the North, including Zamfara State and government’s concern for the lives of the girls, are said to be delaying a rescue operation from the air and on the land.
The Chief of Defence Staff, Maj. Gen Lucky Irabor, is said to be coordinating the rescue operation.
“From preliminary report, the bandits this time around changed tactics before abducting the school girls in Jangebe,” an authoritative source said last night .
“They (bandits) diverted the attention of security agencies by using kidnappers as decoys. We have it on record that security agents clashed with some kidnappers in Jangebe before the bandits struck.
“So, while security agents were battling kidnappers, the bandits took advantage to raid the school and abduct the girls.”
Responding to a question, the source said: “The girls were marched on foot into the bush under armed escort by the bandits who were more in number than the abductees.
“The girls, who were frightened, tried to save their lives by pleading and obeying the directives of the bandits.”
Sources said the location of the abducted school girls has been found.
Said one of the sources: “The military and other security agencies have located where the girls are being kept.
“But what is delaying the rescue operation, both in the air and on the land, is the prevalent harmattan in the North, including Zamfara State. The harsh weather makes visibility on land and in the air difficult.
“Troops and other agents are also being careful to ensure minimum damage in rescuing the girls. We may have no choice than to call a spade, a spade.
“We hope political authority in the stste will buy the idea of the military liberating these innocent girls.”
The Chief of Defence Staff, Maj. Gen Lucky Irabor, was busy last night coordinating the rescue mission.
Other sources in Jangebe itself said the bandits struct at about 1am,shooting sporadically.
Seven abducted girls escape
Seven of the abducted girls succeeded in escaping from the grip of the gunmen, it was gathered last night.
The girls, according to the source, outwitted their abductors while they were being marched into the forest.
The girls said more could be on their way home as many of they were able to maneuver their way out of captivity.
We have deployed two surveillance helicopters, says IGP
Police Inspector General Muhammed Adamu said yesterday that the military, police, Department of State Security, and other security operatives have commenced coordinated search and rescue operations on the Zamfara abducted school girls.
Adamu ordered the immediate deployment of two operational surveillance helicopters to Zamfara State.
This is in addition to the personnel of Operation Puff Adder II earlier deployed to the State to support efforts by the Command to combat banditry, kidnapping and other related crimes.
The Force Public Relations Officer, CP Frank Mba said: “Operatives of the Nigeria Police Force have commenced a coordinated search and rescue operation, involving the deployment of both ground and aerial assets, aimed at locating and rescuing the students of Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe, Zamfara State abducted in the early hours of Friday, 25th February, 2021.
“To ensure the success of the ongoing operation, the Inspector-General of Police, IGP M.A Adamu, NPM, mni has ordered the immediate deployment of two (2) operational surveillance helicopters to Zamfara State.
“This is in addition to the personnel of Operation Puff Adder II earlier deployed to the State to support efforts by the Command to combat banditry, kidnapping and other related crimes.”
Adamu condemned the “barbaric and callous abduction of the innocent female students,” and pledged that the Police and other security forces will not relent until the abducted students are successfully rescued and reunited with their families”.
Mba said the joint rescue operation is being carried out by the Police, the Military and other members of the law enforcement community with support from the State Government and other Stakeholders.
The Zamfara Police Commissioner Abutu Yaro said a joint search and rescue operation was already underway with a view to rescuing the kidnapped students .
CP Yaro said the Force Commander Operations Hadarin Daji, Major General Aminu Bande, Brigade Commander 1 Brigade, Nigeria Army Gusau, and other state government officials led a heavily armed Re-enforcement team to Jangebe to complement the ongoing rescue operation in the locations where the students were believed to have been whisked to.
Concern for lives of victims is our only restraint, Buhari warns bandits
President Muhammadu Buhari,in his first reaction to the abduction of the girls, warned bandits not to over-stretch their luck, saying the only thing shielding them from certain destruction is the restraint for the lives of the innocent.
Security forves, according to him, have what it takes to end the impunity of the bandits.
The President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu,said in a statement that the military have been mindful of the rules of engagement, adding that no criminal group is too powerful for strong for government to crush.
Government,he vowed, “will not succumb to blackmail by bandits who target innocent school students in the expectations of huge ransom payments.”
He added: “no criminal group can be too strong to be defeated by the government.
“The only thing standing between our security forces and the bandits are the rules of engagement.
“We have the capacity to deploy massive force against the bandits in the villages where they operate, but our limitation is the fear of heavy casualties of innocent villagers and hostages who might be used as human shields by the bandits.
“Our primary objective is to get the hostages safe, alive and unharmed.
“A hostage crisis is a complex situation that requires maximum patience in order to protect the victims from physical harm or even brutal death at the hands of their captors.”
He warned the bandits “not to entertain any illusions that they are more powerful than the government. They shouldn’t mistake our restraint for the humanitarian goals of protecting innocent lives as a weakness or a sign of fear or irresolution.”
The President appealed to state governments “to review their policy of rewarding bandits with money and vehicles, warning that the policy might boomerang disastrously.”
He also advised states and local governments to be more proactive by improving security around schools and their surroundings.
The 27 students of the Government Science College Kagara,Niger State,who were abducted from the school last week remain in captivity as are about 100 Chibok school girls who were seized in April 2014 and Leah Sharibu who was kidnapped in Dapchi,Yobe State in 2018.
By Taiye Agbaje/ PM NEWS/ NAN
Abdulrasheed Maina, Chairman of the defunct Pension Reformed Taskforce Team (PRTT), has had his fresh bail request rejected by Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja.
Delivering a ruling, Abang, held that Maina’s application for bail lacked merit.
The judge said Maina was not only a flight risk but a proven risk, having fled to the Republic of Niger and Chad in violation of the court order.
“He has disappointed the court,” he ruled.
Justice Abang said though it was at the court’s discretion to grant bail, the ex-pension reformed boss did not deserve a bail after jumping the first one.
The judge said that Maina did not place sufficient materials before the court to convince the court that he deserves the second bail.
He said the medical report brought from the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital showed that Maina was not under any medical emergency.
Justice Abang, who refused to grant Maina’s application for an order directing the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to release his confiscated property, including a BMW Car, also dismissed his request for an order to set aside the Nov. 18 and Dec. 4, 2020 orders.
The court on Nov. 18, 2020, ordered the trial of Maina in absentia after he jumped bail.
Also on Dec. 4, 2020, the court ordered Maina to be remanded in prison custody pending the hearing and final determination of his matter.
Maina, who jumped bail last year and fled to the Republic of Niger before his rearrest, had on Dec. 24, 2020, applied for another bail.
Maina, through his lawyer, Anayo Adibe, on Jan. 20, approached Justice Abang in a motion on notice.
He argued that the application became necessary over his worsening health condition.
In the motion, the ex-pension boss told the court that he had reasonable and responsible sureties who were willing to act as sureties if granted bail.
Debunking the argument that he had jumped bail, Maina said he fled to the Republic of Niger to have a kneel surgery.
According to him, If the knee surgery had not been done, his leg would have been amputated.
Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning Zainab Ahmed on Monday briefed the National Assembly about Federal Government’s efforts that helped the country exit recession in the fourth quarter of this year.
Ahmed, who spoke at a meeting between the Leadership of the National Assembly and ministry, however, said the challenges brought about by COVID-19 made government’s revenue to drop by 65 per cent in 2020.
Senate President Ahmed Lawan and Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila had attributed the country’s exit from recession to the harmony and cooperation between the Executive and Legislative arms of government.
Ahmed however, attributed the development to several efforts by the fiscal, monetary, and trade authorities. She said that the government spent more than was budgeted for on debt servicing for both local and foreign debts in 2020 by about two percent.
The minister said the challenges in 2020, which significantly disrupted the micro-economic development of the country with crude oil prices crashing to as low as $20 from $72 per barrel, made government’s revenue to crash.
Her words: “Another key development for Nigeria was the massive output cut by OPEC in the international market, which was designed to stabilise the crude oil market prices. This meant that the 2020 budget had to be revised.
“The impact of this development is that revenue went down by about 65 percent.”
Ahmed said in response to the development and with the support of the National Assembly, a number of measures were taken, such as the review of the exchange rate.
The minister added: “The effect was that our country went into recession in the third quarter. However, due to the significant stimulus as well as other interventions by the fiscal, monetary and trade authorities, a mild recovery has been recorded in the fourth quarter of 2020 with a positive growth of 0.11 percent. This means that the country has technically exited recession as we had projected.
“Oil price was fixed at $28 per barrel; oil production was 1.8 million barrel per day, but the performance was 1.7 million barrel per day. Exchange rate was set at N360, but we closed the year at N375.”
She said inflation was targeted at 14.13 percent, but “we closed the year at 14.89 per cent.”
According to her, “GDP growth rate was targeted at 4.2 per cent negative growth, but we were able to improve on that and at the end of 2020, it was -1.9 per cent.”
She added that as at the end of 2020, Federal Government’s retained revenue was N3.94 trillion, representing 73 percent of targeted revenue.
The federal government share of the revenue, Ahmed explained, was N1.5 trillion which represents 157 per cent performance over and above the target.
This, she explained, was because crude oil prices performed better than the projection.
She said: “Non-oil revenue collection stood at 79 per cent, Company Income tax and VAT performed at 82 per cent and 68 per cent respectively. Customs revenue collection was 79 per cent. Considering the challenges of the year, this is a good performance; in fact, this performance is higher than previous years.”
On government’s expenditure during the year, Ahmed said: “The N9.97 trillion amended estimate (excluding government funded enterprises) performed at 102 per cent. This means that there was two per cent spending above what was appropriated. This spending arose specifically because of a higher debt service repayment for both local and external debt.
“As at the end of the year, we had N1.7 trillion that has been released as capital expenditure, representing 89 per cent of the capital expenditure. The extension granted by the National Assembly enabled the Ministries, Departments, and Agencies to implement the capital budget up to 100 per cent of the amount that has already been released to them.
“The extension meant that agencies could continue to spend the money that has been released to them. Wed have made an assessment and as at the end of the first week of February, I am afraid to report that the performance report of the extended amount was averaging about 30 per cent. We are going to make another assessment by the end of February.”
She also disclosed that as of December 2020, the government had released about N115 billion for COVID 19 expenditure, adding “after that, there have been more releases and we will provide details on that.”
Senate President Lawan said that the meeting was specifically for the principal officers of the National Assembly to interact with the minister on the continued implementation of the 2020 capital budget.
The popular Islamic scholar, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi on Thursday met with Kidnappers of Students, Staff of Government Science College, Kagara, Niger State.
According to TVC News, The meeting took place at Tagina forest in Niger State.
The bandits were led by their leader, Dogo Gide and Gumi appealed to them to give peace a chance.
See photos from the meeting below:
After the meeting, Gumi assured that Niger abductees will be released soon.
A source disclosed that government also sent a strong delegation to meet with the bandits and dialogue with them
By Aminu Garko/ PM NEWS
Niger State Governor, Abubakar Sani-Bello has confirmed the abduction 27 school students, three staff and 12 family members at the Government Science College Karaga of Rafi local government areas of the state.
He confirmed this during a press conference shortly after an emergency meeting with heads of security agencies in Minna on Wednesday.
Gunmen had stormed the school on Wednesday at 2am killing one student, kidnapped 27 students, three staff and 12 members of the families at Government Science College in kagara.
Also, 40 passengers from Kontagora to Minna where abducted by suspected gunman on February 14.
Bello directed that all boarding schools in Shiroro, Rafi and Muyan be closed down with immediate effect until the situation improves.
“I call on all Nigerlites to condemn all forms of criminality in the state,” he said.
He called the Federal Government to deploy all resources to secure the state while the state government was doing everything possible to ensure safe return of the students and staff.
The governor, however, disclosed that out of the 40 passengers abducted, 8 have regained freedom while the remaining were still in the hands of their abductors who were demanding for ransom.
He said that the state government would not pay ransom to the suspected bandits in order to secure the release of their victims, but was ready to support any bandit who was ready to surround arms.
“When you negotiate and pay ransom to criminals, they will use the money to purpose more weapons,” he said.
NAN reports that Government Science College Kagara has a total of 650 students of which 27 were abducted and one student Benjamin Doma killed.
True to its word, the federal government on Saturday frustrated the #OccupyLekkiTollGate protest, with the police arresting 40 would be protesters as they trooped to the scene in high brow Lekki, Lagos in ones and twos.
Some of the arrested persons said they were mere passers-by who had nothing to do with the protest.
The arrests, apparently part of the minimum force Defence Minister Bashir Magashi vowed earlier in the day would be applied by government on the protesters, sparked condemnations from the human rights community and the political class.
The arrested persons were subsequently arraigned before the Lagos State Mobile Court in Yaba on a three count charge of conspiracy; conduct likely to cause breach of public peace and flouting the COVID-19 guidelines.
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) deplored the thwarting of the protest.
Human rights lawyer/activist Ebun Adegboruwa (SAN) said he was “sorely troubled” to see videos showing arrested protesters being subjected to alleged acts of brutality by the police.
Adegboruwa, who is a member of the Lagos State Judicial Panel probing alleged police brutality and the Lekki Toll Gate incident of October 20, said he could not continue to participate in the assignment of the panel if the police continued to perpetrate “fresh assaults” with impunity.
A former presidential aspirant, Adamu Garba, asked government to allow the protesters express themselves without intimidation.
A large contingent of armed policemen had been deployed to the area on Friday night ahead of the planned protest, with government vowing that it would not tolerate any protest so soon after the October mayhem that claimed many lives and assets.
The security agents were there all night, waiting for protesters who might defy the order to stay away.
Some youths indeed defied the order.
But they were picked up as soon as they arrived at the toll gate and driven in different vehicles to the police station.
One of the vehicles, a Black Maria, failed to start when it was to take some of the arrested persons away.
It had to be pushed by workers of the Lekki Consession Company to move.
One of the arrested persons was comedian and activist, Debo Adebayo, popularly known as Mr. Macaroni.
One of the early reactions to the police action came from a member of the Lagos State Judicial Panel probing alleged police brutality and the Lekki Tollgate Incident of October 20, Mr Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa (SAN).
He demanded the immediate release of the arrested protesters.
Adegboruwa said he was “sorely troubled” to see videos showing arrested protesters being subjected to alleged acts of brutality by the police.
He could not, he explained, continue to participate as a member of the #EndSARS panel should the police continue to perpetrate “fresh assaults” with impunity.
No fewer than 23 persons, including passersby, were arrested by operatives of the Lagos Police Command deployed to Lekki Toll Gate.
“My heart is very heavy. I’m saddened and devastated. My soul is sorely troubled at this time,” he said in a statement.
“For decades before the advent of this administration, Nigerians have risked their lives, liberties, their times and their energies, their resources, to win back this country on the side of democracy and good government, from military dictatorship. Some have paid the supreme price with their lives.
“I have been monitoring events at the Lekki Toll Gate since morning, and I am totally overwhelmed with the images, videos and sundry evidence of police brutality of armless civilians, who ventured to protest at the toll gate.
“In one particular video, I saw citizens of Nigeria being dehumanized, striped half naked and cramped together in a rickety bus. This is totally unacceptable.
“While we are yet to come to terms with the events of October 20, 2020, it becomes worrisome that the security agencies have not learnt any positive lesson from those occurrences. I commend the protesters for their peaceful conduct.
“I cannot in good conscience continue to sit at any Panel of Inquiry to heal wounds and end police brutality when fresh assaults are being perpetrated with impunity.
“Consequently, I am presently consulting with my constituency within the civil society as to my continued participation in the EndSARS Judicial Panel.
“I hereby demand the immediate release of all those arrested in connection with the peaceful protest at the Lekki Toll Gate today. On no account should anything happen to any of them while in the custody of the police.
“I appeal for calm on all sides in order not to escalate the worsening security situation across the land. I cannot fail to point out the fact that the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is a product of protest and civil disobedience. Let history vindicate the just.
“Aluta Continua,Victoria Ascerta!”
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar said on Twitter that the right to peaceful protest is guaranteed by the Nigerian constitution.
“The 1999 Nigerian constitution, as amended (Section 40) guarantees the right of citizens to peaceful protest,” he said.
He added: “The courts have also affirmed that right. Anything contrary to that is not acceptable and stands condemned.
“It is the security agents’ responsibility to provide a secured conducive environment for citizens to protest peaceably in line with constitutional provisions and the African Charter on Human rights.”
In another tweet, a former presidential aspirant, Adamu Garba, wondered why government would not allow the protesters express themselves.
His words: “Inasmuch as the #EndSARS protesters are not blocking the way for other citizens to move along the #Lekkitollgate, the law permits them the right to peaceful protest. After all, that is a tenet of democracy that we practice. All arrested protesters should be released immediately.
“When will we ever learn in Nigeria? Is it not better for people to express themselves in a protest than hide behind any extreme motive to seek justice? I would rather have a peaceful protester than a bandit with AK-47.
“If #EndSARS protesters promises to be peaceful, let them be. If for any reason an iota of violence is detected from them, the authorities should quickly mobilise and disperse them.
“But as long as protesters claimed to be peaceful, we should give them their right to protest and protect them against possible hoodlums hijacking the protest.”
The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) said it had begun moves to secure the release of the protesters .
NBA’s President Olumide Akpata condemned what he described as the Police’s “shocking” and “unlawful actions” against protesters and demanded their immediate release.
He offered free legal representation to any protester without a lawyer.
“The images & footages of the unlawful actions of the Nigerian Police at the Lekki Tollgate Lagos are truly shocking,” he said on Twitter.
“The @NigBarAssoc condemns the brazen disrespect for the fundamental rights of unarmed citizens who are merely exercising their rights to peaceful protests.
“We are currently working together with members of our association to ensure the release of those detained.
“At the moment, we understand that the detainees are spread across Panti, Adeniji and Ikeja Police Stations, and that they are currently being denied access to their Lawyers.
“This is totally unacceptable and we call on the police to immediately release them or allow them unhindered access to their lawyers.
“For protesters who do not have legal representation, the @NigBarAssoc is setting up a team of volunteer lawyers who will immediately represent them.”
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Dr. Mike Ozekhome, also condemned the arrests and demanded the release of all the arrested persons and in particular, his client, Mr, Macaroni.
He said: “The arrest, taking away in a Black Maria and detention of peaceful protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate today is patently illegal and totally unconstitutional.
“At least the Nigerian Constitution has not been abrogated by this dictatorial government of impunity.
“Sections 40 and 41 of the said Constitution give Nigerians the right to peaceful assembly and association, and the right to freedom of movement.
“Even under military dictatorships, as one of the founding fathers of the the Civil Liberties Organisation – (the first indigenous human rights organisation in Nigeria founded on 15th October, 1987), I was allowed to demonstrate and protest on the streets by successive military juntas.
“The protesters have done no wrong to protest. It has not been shown that it was violent. Is the Federal government truly saying Nigerians should no longer protest?
“Then the FG should dissolve the people and select or elect another one of its choice.”
Civil society organisation, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, called for the immediate release of all the arrested protesters.
It threatened to go to court if they were not released unconditionally.
It said: “The United Nations and concerned governments should press the Nigerian authorities to end the crackdown on peaceful protesters, and unconditionally release those arbitrarily detained.
“We’ll pursue appropriate legal actions if the #EndSARS protesters arbitrarily arrested simply for peacefully exercising their human rights are not immediately and unconditionally released. Peaceful assembly is a fundamental right,” it said in a string of tweets.
Many other Nigerians, including celebrities and social media influencers, also took to the social media to berate the Lagos State Government over the deployment of operatives against unarmed protesters exercising their constitutional rights.
Toke Makinwa said: “Nigeria can really really really test you. Lagos State Government you need the youth, @jidesanwoolu, police arresting peaceful protesters that voted you in to office is a low blow, it is an abuse of our fundamental right to peacefully protest #EndSARS #Lekkitollgate”
Popular Activist, Aisha Yesufu said: “That we decide to be law abiding is not a reason for government to take us for granted. We have seen the Nigerian govt turn to left over spaghetti in the presence of killer herdsmen, kidnappers, bandits, Boko Haram etc who decided not to be law abiding #LekkiTollGate #EndSars
@Adetolaov said: “What is the use of having laws if the Police can simply choose to ignore that “peaceful protests are a constitutional right”, and instead beat up protesters, respond with force and even take protesters away in a Black Maria. Disgraceful and illegal acts #Lekkitollgate #EndSARS”
Charley Boy said: “I know these animals have turned Nigeria into a Jungle. But peaceful protest is still our human right. Animals can’t dash us human right. Say no to #lekkitollgate reopening.
Popular CNN Journalist Stephanie Busari said: “Police are clamping down heavily on the few protesters that turned up. We saw some beaten with sticks and their posters confiscated. One young man who said he was an observer was taken away in a Black Maria. #Lekkitollgate”
Wale Adetona said: “So the armed police and LCC staff at #LekkiTollGate are arresting anyone on sight whether you are a protester or not, straight into a Black Maria and moved to an unknown location. Whatever happened to the fundamental right of peaceful gathering?”
A social media influencer, Dr. Dipò Awójídé, condemned the police action, noting that it was not the way to go.
“This is not the path of peace/justice. The government should not be doing this. Peaceful protest is guaranteed by the Nigerian constitution. #EndSARS.”
Another commentator, Festus Ogun, wrote: “Damilare Adenola is asthmatic. He is currently being violently tortured at Adeniji Police Station for being a voice of courage. He has been denied access to his inhalers and lawyers. Nothing must happen to @dadenola. #EndSARS.”
A medical doctor, Olufunmilayo said: “The government arrested young people for peaceful protest. They pushed them into a Black Maria then stripped them naked and tied some of them. They seized their phones. Then recorded these men to let the whole world see they dehumanised them.
“This government is criminally cruel. Even armed robbers should not be stripped naked and tied up like goats stuffed into a narrow van.
“They rounded them up. They stripped them naked. They tied them up like animals.
“That video was terribly traumatising to watch. Now imagine what Mr Macaroni went through. #EndSARS
DJ Switch said: “I am so angry at all I see, I want us all… Where ever we are, to speak up! In whatever way you can!!! Will update you all on what is happening on the 17th if all goes well. Like I said… I have chosen to fight, what do you want to do? #EndSARS #EndPoliceBrutalityinNigeria”
Kate Henshaw said: “All I really want to say is that they don’t really care about us…… #EndSARS #EndBadGovernanceInNigeria #EndPoliceBrutality”.
Footages from the scene posted across various media platforms showed how policemen chased some suspects and bundled them into a waiting Black Maria.
Also seen were images of some of the suspects handcuffed, their clothes taken off and they were sweating on each other inside the van.
Forty suspects arrested on Saturday in connection with the protest were immediately arraigned before the Lagos State Mobile Court, Yaba.
The suspects, including Answer Harrison, Adekanbi Kayode, Yemi Orungbamila, Anjorin Joseph Seye, Paul Terkuma, Dayo Keshinro, Belema Briggs, Anisere Sodiq, Olanrenwaju Gonta and Damilare Adenola, were arraigned on a three count charge of conspiracy, conduct likely to cause breach of public peace and flouting the COVID-19 guidelines.
According to the charge sheet signed by prosecuting counsel, A.O. Adekunle, the defendants conspired amongst themselves to commit a misdemeanour to wit conduct likely to cause a breach of the peace and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 412 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.
It reads: “That you the above named defendants on the 13th of February, 2021 at Lekki Toll Plaza in the Yaba Magisterial District being a public place, gathered yourselves to harass and causing unnecessary alarm and panic in a manner likely to cause a breach of the peace and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 168 (1) (e) and punishable under Section 168 (2) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.
“That you the above named Defendants on the 13th of February, 2021 at Lekki Toll Plaza in the Yaba Magisterial District did fail to comply with the Restriction/Prohibition Quarantine Law which prohibits any social gathering to avoid spreading and contacting of Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 5 of the Quarantine Act Q2 Law of Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2004 as domesticated under Public Health Law CH: P: Laws of Lagos State of Nigeria, 2015.”
The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges against them and were granted bail in the sum of N100,000 by the presiding magistrate.
Lagos Police Command: ‘We arrested 76 for violating Covid-19 protocols, impounded 136 vehicles for breaking curfew’
The Lagos State Police Command, in its own version of what transpired yesterday, said it arrested 76 people for allegedly violating Covid-19 protocols and 40 others for conspiracy, conduct likely to cause breach of peace and violation of COVID-19 protocols.
It said: “In its bid to consistently enforce COVID-19 protocols in the state, the Lagos State Police Command on Saturday 13th February, at about 1am, arrested seventy six (76) suspects at a birthday party violating COVID-19 protocols.
“The Divisional Police Officer, Maroko Division of the command, led his team on enforcement of COVID-19 protocols including 12 midnight to 4am curfew when he got wind of the gathering at Lavender Court, Jakande Close, Oniru, Victoria Island, Lagos.
“Those arrested at the party included: 1. Popoola Michael 2. Adeyemo opeyemi 3. Ramon salami 4. Kareem Akeem 5. Balogun Nurudeen and 71 others.
“The Divisional Police Officer, Maroko Division, also impounded more than One Hundred and thirty six (136) vehicles for breaking the 12 midnight to 4am curfew on the island and some parts of Lekki in the recent past. The owners of the vehicles have been charged to the Mobile Court, Oshodi and were fined appropriately.
“In addition, the command has arrested forty (40) suspects at Lekki Toll Gate plaza, Lagos State, on Saturday 13th February, 2021 for conspiracy, conduct likely to cause breach of peace and violation of COVID-19 protocols.
“The suspects had gathered at the Lekki Toll Gate plaza creating tension and behaving in such a manner that could cause breach of public peace without due regard for COVID-19 protocols major of which are use of nose masks and social distancing.
“The command has however arraigned the suspects today to the mobile court at Panti, Yaba accordingly but were however granted bail by the court. They will appear in court on the next date of adjournment, 2nd March, 2021, with the certificate of COVID-19 test.
“The command therefore assured the general public that it will always discharge its statutory duties as expected within the ambit of the law, while appealing to Lagosians to be law-abiding and go about their lawful businesses.”
One of the arrested persons, Abdulfatai Olusina, who sustained leg injury while being dragged by a policeman, told reporters he stepped out of his office to buy food when he was picked up.
He said: “I work in Lekki Phase 1. He has injured me in the leg without committing any crime. My leg is bleeding. My ID card is in the office. I came out to buy food around the toll gate.
“A policeman came behind me and held my trousers. I asked him what I did, but he couldn’t mention any offence. He was just dragging me. His colleague joined him and they pushed me into the Black Maria.”
Another suspect, Christopher Ogboji, was heard shouting his name from the Black Maria, insisting he was not a protester.
“I was just walking (by) when I was arrested. I committed no crime. I am a civil engineer. I am a contractor. I work with a construction company. I was heading to the construction site when I was arrested.
“The future is at risk. I cannot be a slave in my own country. Is this an arrest or abduction? I need an answer. Is it a crime to walk in my own country? I am an employer of labour. They have collected my phone.”
Opponents of the #OccupyLekkiTollgate protesters, #DefendLagos protest backed out of the Lekki toll gate counter protest.
They however asked the police to arrest #OccupyLekkiTollgate protesters.
The group – #DefendLagos – was formed as a counter team against the #OccupyLekkiTollGate.
The head of the #DefendLagos campaign, Alabi Oladimeji, who announced the suspension of the protests, said: “I am proud to announce that for the meantime, we will be suspending this protest due to the law of the federal and state governments. We are law-abiding and good citizens; we should not be the ones seen disobeying any law.”
He added: “If Lagos and FG fail us, we will come out huge and protest on Monday.”
Defence Minister Bashir Salihi Magashi said on Saturday in Kano that the federal government would not sit down and watch hoodlums and criminals destroy lives and vandalise properties under the guise of #ENDSARS2 protest.
“We will maintain the law and peace of this country to the best of our ability. We can use force when it is required,” he warned.
Gen. Magashi spoke to reporters in Kano State after revalidating his membership with the All Progressives Congress (APC).
He said: “Whoever is involved in this EndSARS issue, the military and the government will not allow it to happen. We will be as good as any other citizen to protect this country.
“We are not going to be harsh on anybody. We will maintain the law and peace to the best of our ability. We can use force when it is required. When we say ‘use force,’ we don’t mean go and start killing people.
“We can use minimum force commensurate with what is seen on the ground. And that is where some people are getting it wrong.
“We cannot sit down and then watch you shoot somebody and we allow you to go free because somebody thinks you are one who can kill and go away.
“Please give us time in this country. We are in a state where we want everybody to look up and see what you can do for this country, not what the country can do for you.
“This EndSARS issue, if you recall, the Minister of Information had briefed this nation and alerted that something like this is coming, and we know we are always prepared -this is our job -to ensure internal security.
“We must plan for it. We don’t want to be taken by surprise. And if you want us to be taken by surprise, then, there is no need to call us protectors.
“If EndSARS is to take place today, we will ensure that we have peaceful counter plans that we will put in place to ensure that mistakes are not made in protecting the people.
“You know the composition of the EndSARS crowd. Over 60 per cent of them are people who don’t even know why they are there. They just come to take part. Some of them are rogues, some are there to steal. They want to do whatever they think. The actual ones are few.”
The #OccupyLekkiprotest was organised in reaction to the decision of the Lagos Judicial Panel to return the Lekki tollgate to its owners (LCC).
The organisers also listed the ban on cryptocurrency accounts among other reasons.
By Kazeem Ugbodaga/ PM NEWS
Ahead of today’s protest, heavily armed policemen have taken over the Lekki Tollgate, in readiness to quell and deal with anyone seeking to use the venue as scene of protest.
The reopening of the tollgate shut since the inglorious October 20, 2020 shooting of #EndSARS protesters, on the order of the Judicial Panel on February 6, is the reason behind the planned protest by #OccupyLekkiTollgate protesters.
The youths vowed to stage a protest on February 13, 2020 to express displeasure over the reopening of the tollgate.
The Lagos State Government and the Police have banned any protest at the tollgate, warning protesters to stay away, in order to avoid a repeat of the last protest that led to massive destruction of lives and properties across the state.
On Friday afternoon, heavy presence of armed policemen were spotted at the tollgate and in some parts of Lekki and other areas of the State.
They were led by the Commander, Rapid Response Squad, RRS, Yinka Egbeyemi, in a show of force, causing tension and panic in the area.
A Facebook post on the RRS page said “CSP Yinka Egbeyemi is presently leading a team of police officers on a show of force to Lekki Toll Gate (Admiralty Plaza) Obalende, Ikoyi, Jakande Roundabout, and other areas in Eti Osa as part of efforts to deter crime as well as boost the morale of his officers in the areas.”
As at this night, the police were said to have taken over the tollgate, waiting to quell any protest on Saturday.
According to Amnesty International, “Reports say, Armed policemen surround LekkiTollGate ahead of Saturday’s protests. Lekki TollGate was the scene of the violent crackdown on peaceful #EndSARS protesters in the night of 20 Oct. 2020.”
The Federal Government has vowed to crush any fresh strike at Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos by #EndSARS protesters.
It warned Nigerians against participating in any protest to block the toll gate.
It said all security agencies have been put on the alert to curtail any protest.
It said protests are constitutionally allowed only in designated places but not toll gates.
It confirmed intelligence report which showed that the latest protest might be hijacked to cause violence nationwide.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alh. Lai Mohammed spoke in Abuja against the backdrop of a renewed protest at Lekki Toll Gate as from Saturday.
The Minister said: “However, any further resort to violence in the name of #EndSARS will not be tolerated this time.
“The security agents are ready for any eventuality. A situation in which six soldiers and 37 policemen were murdered in cold blood by hoodlums will not repeat itself.
“The attack, looting and razing of 269 private and public property will not happen again. The killing of 57 civilians will not be re-enacted.”
“No government anywhere will allow a repeat of the kind of destruction, killing and maiming wrought by the hijackers of #EndSARS protests last year.
“After all, only one policeman – (plus four others) – was killed in the invasion of the US Capitol in January, yet the FBI has continued to hunt down and prosecute the perpetrators. No life is more important than the other.”
Mohammed warned those planning the protest to shelve it. He said intelligence report indicated that some of those planners are non-Nigerians
He added: “We therefore strongly warn those who are planning to re-occupy Lekki Toll Gate on Saturday to desist.
“We know that many of those who have been loudest on social media in advertising the plan to reconvene in Lagos on Saturday are not even in Nigeria.
“They are elsewhere around the world fanning the embers of violence and inciting gullible people back home. No one should fall for their antics.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has reacted to condemnations trailing the directive to Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) to desist from transacting in Cryptocurrencies.
In a statement on Sunday, Osita Nwanisobi, Acting Director, Corporate Communications, clarified that the CBN circular of February 5, 2021 did not place any new restrictions on cryptocurrencies.
He recalled that all banks in the country had earlier been forbidden, through CBN’s circular dated January 12, 2017, not to use, hold, trade and/or transact in cryptocurrencies.
Nwanisobi noted that the CBN’s position on cryptocurrencies is not an outlier as many countries, central banks, international financial institutions, and distinguished investors and economists have also warned against its use.
He said China, Canada, Taiwan, Indonesia, Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Bolivia, Kyrgyzstan, Ecuador, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iran, Bangladesh, Nepal and Cambodia have all placed certain level of restrictions on financial institutions facilitating cryptocurrency transactions.
CBN said in China, cryptocurrencies are completely banned and all exchanges closed as well.
Nwanisobi said even famed investor Warren Buffett has called cryptocurrencies “rat poison squared,” a “mirage,” and a “gambling device.”
“Mr. Buffett believes it is a “gambling device” given that they are mostly valuable because the person buying it does so, not as a means of payment; but in the hope they can sell it for even more than what they paid at some point.
During an online forum hosted by the Davos-based World Economic Forum few weeks ago, Andrew Bailey, the Governor of the Bank of England, highlighted the extreme price volatility of cryptocurrencies as one of the biggest flaws and explained that this flaw makes it impossible for them to be used as a lasting means of payment.
“It is not surprising he would take that position because, Bitcoin, the best-known cryptocurrency, hit a record high of $42,000 per unit on January 8, 2021, and sank as low as $28,800 about two weeks later. This is far greater volatility than is found with normal currencies.”
Nwanisobi said first, in light of the fact that they are issued by unregulated and unlicensed entities, their use in Nigeria goes against the key mandates of the CBN, as enshrined in the CBN Act (2007), as the issuer of legal tender in Nigeria.
In effect, the use of cryptocurrencies in Nigeria is a direct contravention of existing law.
He highlighted the critical between a Central Bank issued Digital Currency and cryptocurrencies, adding that as the names imply, while Central Banks can issue Digital Currencies, cryptocurrencies are issued by unknown and unregulated entities.
“Second, the very name and nature of “cryptocurrencies” suggests that its patrons and users value anonymity, obscurity, and concealment.
“The question that one may need to ask therefore is, why any entity would disguise its transactions if they were legal. It is on the basis of this opacity that cryptocurrencies have become well-suited for conducting many illegal activities including money laundering, terrorism financing, purchase of small arms and light weapons, and tax evasion.
“Indeed, many banks and investors who place a high value on reputation have been turned off from cryptocurrencies because of the damaging effects of the widespread use of cryptocurrencies for illegal activities.
“In fact, the role of cryptocurrencies in the purchase of hard and illegal drugs on the darknet website called “Silk Road” is well known. They have also been recent reports that cryptocurrencies have been used to finance terror plots, further damaging its image as a legitimate means of exchange.
“More also, repeated and recent evidence now suggests that some cryptocurrencies have become more widely used as speculative assets rather than as means of payment, thus explaining the significant volatility and variability in their prices. Because the total number of Bitcoins that would ever be issued is fixed (only 21 million will ever be created), new issuances are predetermined at a gradually decelerating pace.
“This limited supply has created a perverse incentive that encourages users to stockpile them in the hope that their prices rise. Unfortunately, with a conglomeration of desperate, disparate, and unregulated actors comes unprecedented price volatility that have threatened many sophisticated financial systems.
“In fact, the price of ether, one of the largest cryptocurrencies in the world, fell from US$320 to US$0.10 in June 2017. The price of Bitcoins has also suffered similar volatilities.
“Given that unlike Fiat money, which is accompanied by full faith and comfort of a country or Central Bank, cryptocurrencies do not have any intrinsic value and do not generate returns by themselves.
“When one buys a stock, say of a conglomerate in the Nigeria Stock Exchange, its price reflects the activity and production of that conglomerate and the value people place on their goods and/or services. This price may rise as the conglomerate produces better goods/services and probably gains greater market share.
“The reverse would be true if the conglomerate does not innovate to improve the quality of its goods/services. In other words, the price of that stock reflects market fundamentals.
“In contrast, cryptocurrencies do not have fundamentals and would never have fundamentals. Investors only buy in the hope that its use and acceptability will rise, thereby pushing up its demand and price.
“But since new versions of cryptocurrencies come on stream with new mathematical models, an infinite supply may someday crash the price to zero.”
CBN stressed that its actions are not in any way, shape or form inimical to the development of FinTech or a technology-driven payment system.
The apex bank said to the contrary, the Nigerian payment system has evolved significantly over the last decade, leapfrogging many of its counterparts in emerging, frontier and advanced economies propelled by reforms driven by the CBN.
The statement said this was evident from the variety of participants, products, channels, cutting-edge technology in the payments system.
CBN said the system was validated by the astronomical growth of volume/value of transactions and the fact that Nigeria is an investment destination of choice for international financial technology companies because of CBN’s policies that have created an enabling investment environment in the payments system.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has interrogated a former Governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari, over alleged N300billion suspected slush cash.
The cash was suspected to have been laundered through a company’s account in a new generation bank.
It was gathered that the governor was alleged to have attempted to move the cash in the account.
But, the EFCC was silent on the identity of the company and the affected bank “in order not to jeopardise the investigation.”
A brief obtained last night stated: “Yari was invited and interrogated at the EFCC’s office in Lagos on Tuesday.”
“He made a statement based on preliminary findings and he was released on bail.
“All those connected with the suspicious attempt to move the N300billion will be invited too.”
Head of Media and Publicity of EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren, said: “Ex-Governor Abdulaziz Yari was invited and quizzed in respect of an ongoing investigation. It is too early to give the details of the ongoing probe.”
Before this latest invitation, Yari has been under investigation on London-Paris Club refunds.
About $3million out of $86million was suspected to be paid to some slush accounts.
President Muhammadu Buhari has sacked the Service Chiefs.
A statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, said he has named the replacements for the sacked chiefs.
The statement reads: “PMB appoints new Service Chiefs. Maj Gen LEO Irabor, CDS, Maj Gen I Attahiru, Army, Rear Adm AZ Gambo, Navy, AVM IO Amao, Air Force.
“He congratulates outgoing Service Chiefs on efforts to bring enduring peace to the country.”
Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, has carpeted those who criticised the Christmas Day speech of Bishop of Sokoto Catholic Diocese, Rev. Fr. Matthew Kukah.
The playwright said he had studied the transcript as reported in the media and found nothing in it that denigrated Islam.
He, however, noted he was not among the most religion besotted inhabitants of the globe.
Kukah, in the speech, summed up the country’s challenges ranging from insecurity, poverty to frustration under President Muhammadu Buhari.
Soyinka spoke in a statement on Monday titled, “The Kukah offence and ongoing offensives.”
He said: “One of the ironic features of religionists is, one is forced to conclude, a need to be offended. It is as if religion cannot exist unless it is nourished with the broth of offence. This may be due to inbuilt insecurity, a fear that even the ascribed absolutes of faith may be founded on nothing more than idealistic human projections, not grounded in anything durable or immutable. Hence the over prickliness, aggressiveness, sometimes even bullying tendencies and imperious posturing. This leads to finding enemies where there are none. In certain social climates, it degenerates into inventing enmities in order to entrench theocratic power.
“In its own peculiar way, this is actually a rational proceeding. A perceived threat to a collectivity tends to rally even waverers round the flag. The core mission of faith custodians then becomes presenting religion as being constantly under siege. It all contributes to interpreting even utterances of no hostile intent as “enemy action.”
“There is a deliberate, emotive displacement of central concern. It is calculated avoidance, diversionary, and thus, nationally unhealthy. Humans should not attempt to play the ostrich.
He noted that Kukah’s Christmas message, and the ensuing offensives, could not be more fortuitous, coming at a time “when a world powerful nation, still reeling from an unprecedented assault on her corporate definition, is now poised to set, at the very least, a symbolic seal on her commitment to the democratic ideal.”
According to Soyinka, some of the most extreme of the violent forces that recently assaulted the governance citadel of the world’s powerful nation sprung from religious and quasi-religious affirmations.
He added that the condition still enabled many of them to be brainwashed into accepting literally, and uncritically, indeed as gospel truth, any pronouncement, however outrageous and improbable, that emerged from their leadership.
He added: “It should not come as a surprise that a section of our Islamic community, not only claims to have found offence in Bishop Kukah’s New Year address, what is bothersome, even unwholesome, is the embedded threat to storm his ‘Capitol’ and eject him, simply for ‘speaking in tongues.’ Any pluralistic society must emphatically declare such a response unacceptable.
“On a personal note, I have studied the transcript as reported in the media and found nothing in it that denigrates Islam but then, I must confess, I am not among the most religion besotted inhabitants of the globe. That, I have been told, disqualifies me from even commenting on the subject and, quite frankly, I wish that was indeed the case. Life would far less be complicated. However, the reverse position does not seem to be adopted by such religionists in a spirit of equity. They do not hesitate to intervene; indeed, some consider themselves divinely empowered to intervene, even dictate in secular life.”
Soyinka stressed that everyone should be reminded that religion was upheld, and practised, not by robots, not by creatures from outer space, not by abstract precepts, but by human beings, full of quirks, frailties and conceits, filled with their own individual and collective worth, and operate in the here and now of this earth.
“That makes religion the business of everyone, especially when it is manipulated to instil fear, discord and separatism in social consciousness. The furore over Bishop Kukah’s statement offers us another instance of that domineering tendency, one whose consequences are guaranteed to spill over into the world of both believers and non-believers, unless checked and firmly contained. In this nation of religious opportunism of the most destructive kind especially, fuelled again and again by failure to learn from past experience, we must at least learn to nip extremist instigations in the bud,” he said.