Wednesday, 27 January 2021
Business and Economy

Business and Economy (1104)

By Agency Reporter

With his challenger Joe Biden at the brink of winning the US presidency, incumbent Donald Trump launched an extraordinary assault on the country’s democratic process.

In words and deeds, Trump showed desperation and panic as his re-election chances faded away, with more votes being counted in a handful of battleground states.

At a press briefing at the White House on Thursday, Trump falsely claimed the election was being “stolen” from him, as he also lost legal challenges to stop counting.

Offering no evidence, he lambasted election workers and alleged fraud in the states where results from a dwindling set of uncounted votes are pushing Democrat Joe Biden nearer to victory.

“This is a case where they’re trying to steal an election,” Trump said.

He spoke for about 15 minutes in the White House briefing room before leaving without taking questions.

In Georgia and Michigan on Thursday, Trump’s campaign lost court rulings to challenge the counting of votes.

Undeterred by the setback, the campaign vowed to bring a new lawsuit challenging what it called voting irregularities in Nevada.

In the Georgia case, the campaign alleged 53 late-arriving ballots were mixed with on-time ballots. In Michigan, it had sought to stop votes from being counted and obtain greater access to the tabulation process.

State judges tossed out both the suits on Thursday.

Judge James Bass, a superior court judge in Georgia, said there was “no evidence” that the ballots in question were invalid.

In the Michigan case, Judge Cynthia Stephens said: “I have no basis to find that there is a substantial likelihood of success on the merits.”

Trump allies alleged that there had been voting irregularities in Nevada’s populous Clark County, which includes Las Vegas.

Biden, the former vice president, was steadily eating away the Republican incumbent’s leads in Pennsylvania and Georgia.

He also maintains narrow advantages in Nevada and Arizona, moving closer to securing the 270 votes in the state-by-state Electoral College that determines the winner.

In Pennsylvania, Trump’s lead had shrunk from 319,000 on Wednesday afternoon to less than 64,000 a day later.

His margin in Georgia fell from 68,000 to fewer than 3,500

Those numbers were expected to continue to move in Biden’s favour, with many of the outstanding ballots from areas that typically vote Democratic, including the cities of Philadelphia and Atlanta.

Biden, meanwhile, saw his lead in Arizona contract from 93,000 to 65,000; he was ahead in Nevada by only 11,000 votes.

Biden would become the next president by winning Pennsylvania, or by winning two out of the trio of Georgia, Nevada and Arizona.

Trump’s likeliest path appeared narrower – he needed to hang onto Pennsylvania and Georgia while overtaking Biden in either Nevada or Arizona.

Most major television networks gave Biden a 253 to 214 lead in Electoral College votes, which are largely determined by state population, after he captured the crucial states of Wisconsin and Michigan on Wednesday.

The Associated Press gave Biden 264 votes, calling out Arizona.

As demonstrators marched in several U.S. cities for a second straight day, the election lay in the hands of civil employees who were methodically counting hundreds of thousands of ballots, many of which were sent by mail amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Posted On Friday, 06 November 2020 02:14 Written by

BY ANDY SULLIVAN/ REUTERS.COM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democrat Joe Biden edged closer to victory in the U.S. presidential race on Thursday as election officials tallied votes in the handful of states that will determine the outcome and protesters took to the streets. President Donald Trump alleged fraud without providing evidence, filed lawsuits and called for recounts in a race yet to be decided two days after polls closed.

The race was coming down to close contests in five states. Biden held narrow leads in Nevada and Arizona while Trump was watching his slim advantage fade in must-win states Pennsylvania and Georgia as mail-in and absentee votes were being counted. The Republican president clung to a narrow lead in North Carolina as well, another must-win for him.

Trump had to win the states where he was still ahead plus either Arizona or Nevada to triumph and avoid becoming the first incumbent U.S. president to lose a re-election bid since fellow Republican George H.W. Bush in 1992.

Edison Research gave Biden a 243 to 213 lead in Electoral College votes, which are largely based on a state’s population. Other networks said Biden had won Wisconsin, which would give him another 10 votes. To win, a candidate needs 270 votes.

The counting and court challenges set the stage for days if not weeks of uncertainty before the Electoral College meets on Dec. 14 and the next president is sworn in on Jan. 20.

GRAPHIC: How vote counting works - here

RAZOR-THIN MARGINS

With tensions rising, about 200 of Trump’s supporters, some armed with rifles and handguns, gathered outside an election office in Phoenix, Arizona, on Wednesday following unsubstantiated rumors that votes were not being counted.

In Detroit, officials blocked about 30 people, mostly Republicans, from entering a vote-counting facility amid unfounded claims that the vote count in Michigan was fraudulent.

Anti-Trump protesters in other cities demanded that vote counting continue. Police arrested 11 people and seized weapons in Portland, Oregon after reports of rioting, while arrests were also made in New York, Denver and Minneapolis. Over 100 events are planned across the country between Wednesday and Saturday.

By early Thursday, Biden had 3.6 million more votes than Trump nationwide, but margins were razor-thin in several states. In Wisconsin, Biden led Trump by roughly 21,000 votes out of 3.3 million cast. In Georgia, Trump led by 19,000 votes out of nearly 5 million cast.

Biden, 77, predicted victory on Wednesday and launched a website to begin the transition to a Democratic-controlled White House.

Trump, 74, has long sought to undermine the credibility of the voting process if he lost. Since Tuesday’s Election Day, he has falsely declared victory, accused Democrats of trying to steal the election without evidence and vowed to fight states in court.

U.S. election experts say fraud is rare.

Trump’s campaign called for a Wisconsin recount - which he would be entitled to given the slim margin there - as well filing lawsuits in Michigan and Pennsylvania to stop vote counting. Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, in charge of elections, called the Trump team’s lawsuit “frivolous.”

Trump’s campaign filed a lawsuit in Georgia to require that Chatham County, which includes the city of Savannah, separate and secure late-arriving ballots to ensure they are not counted.

It also asked the U.S. Supreme Court to allow Trump to join a pending lawsuit filed by Pennsylvania Republicans over whether the battleground state should be permitted to accept late-arriving ballots.

The maneuvers amounted to a broad effort to contest the results before counting has concluded.

“They are finding Biden votes all over the place - in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan. So bad for our Country!” Trump posted on Twitter.

Biden said every vote must be counted. “No one’s going to take our democracy away from us, not now, not ever,” he said on Wednesday.

The contentious election aftermath capped a vitriolic campaign that unfolded amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 233,000 people in the United States and left millions more jobless. The country has also grappled with months of unrest involving protests over racism and police brutality.

The United States set a one-day record for new coronavirus cases on Wednesday with at least 102,591 new infections, according to a Reuters tally.

Supporters of both candidates expressed anger, frustration and fear with little clarity on when the election would be resolved.

Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016 after winning crucial battleground states even though she drew about 3 million more votes nationwide.

Republican candidates have won the popular vote only once since the 1980s, though they have won three out of seven presidential elections during that period due to the Electoral College system.

Multimedia U.S. election coverage: here

COURTESY REUTERS:

Additional reporting by Mimi Dwyer in Phoenix, Tim Reid in Los Angeles and Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Writing by Andy Sullivan; Editing by Scott Malone, Howard Goller and Frances Kerry

Posted On Thursday, 05 November 2020 13:11 Written by

The West African Examination Council has released the results of the 2020 West African Senior School Certificate Examination, with 1,338,348 candidates passing with five credits and above.

Mr. Patrick Areghan, head of the Nigerian Office of WAEC announced the result at a press briefing today.

The result shows the girls beating the boys.

Areghan said 1,338,348 obtained five credits, with or without English and Mathematics.

Out of the 1,003,668 who obtained five credits with both Mathematics and English, the girls share was 506,529, representing 50.47%.

The male students who also obtained the same level of credits were 497,139 or 49.53%.

Candidates who obtained five credits with English and Maths were slightly more than those who did so in 2019.

According to Areghan, while 64.18 % of candidates made five credits with Maths and English in 2019, in 2020, 65.24% made it.

Areghan also disclosed that 215,149 results are being withheld for various examination malpractice.

“The cases are being investigated and reports of the investigation will be presented to the appropriate committee of the council for determination in due course”, he said.

Students who have paid the fees for the exam can access their results at www.waecdirect.org.

They are expected to use their result checker pin and serial numbers for access.

Overall, 1,538,445 students sat for the exam, out of 1,549,740 who registered.

Out of the candidates, 780,660 were male and 757,785 were females.

Posted On Monday, 02 November 2020 13:52 Written by

Elite Commandos of the US military have staged a military raid of bandits camp in Nigeria to free an American abducted in Niger Republic.

The American, Philip Walton, was abducted on 26 October by suspected bandits last week in a village in Niger, close to Nigeria. Nigeria has porous borders with Niger..

The US military rescued Walton during a high-risk U.S. military raid in Nigeria.

Officials told ABC News early Saturday that the counter-terrorism mission was undertaken by elite commandos as part of a major effort to free the 27-year-old U.S. citizen before his abductors could get far after taking him captive in Niger.

According to report, the operation involved the governments of the U.S., Niger and Nigeria working together to rescue Walton quickly.

It said the elite SEAL Team Six carried out the rescue mission and killed all but one of the captors, according to officials with direct knowledge about the operation.

“They were all dead before they knew what happened,” another counterterrorism source with knowledge told ABC News.

The Pentagon lauded the rescue mission in a statement.

“U.S. forces conducted a hostage rescue operation during the early hours of 31 October in Northern Nigeria to recover an American citizen held hostage by a group of armed men,” said Pentagon chief spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman.

“This American citizen is safe and is now in the care of the U.S. Department of State. No U.S military personnel were injured during the operation.

“We appreciate the support of our international partners in conducting this operation.”

U.S. and Nigerien officials had said that Walton was kidnapped from his backyard last Monday after assailants asked him for money. But he only offered $40 USD and was then taken away by force, according to sources in Niger.

Walton lives with his wife and young daughter on a farm near Massalata, a small village close to the border with Nigeria.

Nigerien and American officials told ABC News that they believed the captors were from an armed group from Nigeria and that it was not considered terror-related. But hostages are often sold to terrorist groups.

Concern grew quickly after the kidnapping that an opportunity to rescue Walton could become much more dangerous if he was taken by or sold to a group of Islamist militants aligned with either al Qaeda or ISIS and American special operations commanders felt they needed to act swiftly before that could occur, said one counterterrorism official briefed on the hostage recovery operations.

A U.S. State Department spokesperson confirmed after the kidnapping that an American citizen had been abducted in Niger and said the U.S. government was “providing their family all possible consular assistance.” The spokesperson declined to comment on the case, citing “privacy considerations,” but added, “When a U.S. citizen is missing, we work closely with local authorities as they carry out their search efforts, and we share information with families however we can.”

Another American, Christian humanitarian aid worker Jeffery Rey Woodke, 60, has been held hostage for the past four years since being kidnapped in northern Niger by armed militants.

Posted On Saturday, 31 October 2020 16:59 Written by

The Nigerian authorities’ must end their attempts to cover up the Lekki Toll Gate massacre, Amnesty International said, as it released a new timeline investigating the atrocity one week later.

The timeline collates photographs and video footage to confirm that Nigerian Army vehicles left Bonny Camp, a military base approximately a seven-minute drive from the toll gate, at 6.29pm local time on 20 October.

Footage then tracks the vehicles to the toll gate. At approximately 6.45pm, the Nigerian military opened fire on the #EndSars protesters who were peacefully calling for an end to police brutality.

(Read the timeline here

“What happened at Lekki Toll Gate has all the traits of the Nigerian authorities’ pattern of a cover-up whenever their defence and security forces commit unlawful killings,” said Osai Ojigho, Country Director of Amnesty International.

“One week on, the Nigerian authorities still have many questions to answer: who ordered the use of lethal force on peaceful protesters? Why were CCTV cameras on the scene dismantled in advance? And who ordered electricity being turned off minutes before the military opened fire on protesters?

READ ALSO “Inspector Fashola” - Nigerians drag minister over Lekki hidden camera

“The initial denials of the involvement of soldiers in the shooting was followed by the shameful denial of the loss of lives as a result of the military’s attack against the protests.

“Many people are still missing since the day of the incident, and credible evidence shows that the military prevented ambulances from reaching the severely injured in the aftermath.”

Amnesty International is again calling on Nigerian authorities to bring to justice those behind the shooting and to protect those who are exercising their right to freedom of assembly.

The organization is still investigating the shooting, and the reported removal of bodies of those killed by the military in an attempt to remove evidence.

Tracking the military’s movements

Amnesty International’s Crisis Response experts investigated and verified social media videos and photographs that confirm the Nigerian security forces were present at the Lekki Toll Gate when the shootings occurred.

At 6.29pm local time in Lagos, two military vehicles were filmed leaving Bonny Camp on videos shared on social media. Later footage shows four vehicles with flashing lights in a convoy, and they appear to be vehicles used by the Nigerian military and police.

The same vehicles head east along Ozumba Mbadiwe Avenue – which changes its name to the Lekki-Epe Expressway – in the direction of the Lekki Toll Gate.

On this route, the vehicles pass several international embassies and consulates, including the Japanese Embassy and the Australian High Commission.

Further photographs and footage capture the vehicles arriving at the toll gate, before the peaceful protest is disrupted by men in military uniform and gunfire is heard.

As night time descended, protesters continued to film and share videos of the shootings. Later in the evening, videos of the victims were also shared on social media.

Amnesty International has been monitoring developments across Nigeria since the #EndSars protest began on 8 October 2020.

Nigerians have been taking to the streets, peacefully demanding an end to police brutality, extrajudicial executions and extortion by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a unit of the Nigerian police tasked with fighting violent crimes.

At least 56 people have died across the country since protests began. In multiple cases, the security forces have used excessive force in an attempt to control or stop the protests.

*Statement by Amnesty International

Posted On Wednesday, 28 October 2020 17:34 Written by

By Kazeem Ugbodaga/ PM NEWS

Former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode has faulted Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu on the number of people who died at the Lekki Tollgate when soldiers opened fire on #EndSARS protesters.

Fani-Kayode said the governor had few days ago said no person was killed, but that he told CNN on Monday that two people died.

He said by tomorrow, the governor would be forced to admit to the world that even more were killed.

Fani-Kayode also said Sanwo-Olu rightly said soldiers did the killing, but asked whether those who removed the CCTVs, street lights and tollgate were soldiers too.

He said it appeared that few people in Sanwo-Olu’s government might have had a hand in the barbaric act of terror.

In his words: “Jide Sanwo-Olu, a few days ago, you told the Nigerian people that no-one was killed at the #Lekki tollgate Massacre.

“Yesterday you told CNN that 2 people were killed. Tomorrow you will be forced to admit to the world that even more were killed.

“The noose is tightening! You said soldiers did the killing and you are right. But were those that turned off the CCTV cameras, the street lights, the toll gate lights & the bill board lights soldiers too?

“It appears that a few people in your Govt. may have also had a hand in this barbaric act of terror!”

Posted On Tuesday, 27 October 2020 22:39 Written by

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has condemned the clampdown on major broadcast stations including AIT, Channels and the ARISE TV by the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Government, over their reportage of the EndSARS protest in various parts of the country.

The PDP asserted that the rush to impose monetary fines on the television stations by the National Broadcast Commission (NBC), smacks of a fresh attempt to further gag the media, suppress free speech and Nigerians’ access to information.

The PDP in a statement by its national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said that this clampdown on broadcast stations has heightened widespread public apprehensions of attempts at concealments of details and suppression of material evidence relating to human rights violations during the protest.

“In fact, this display of high-handedness by the NBC has hugely detracted from the efforts being made by well-meaning Nigerians to douse the tension in the land and reassure Nigerians at this critical time,” the PDP said.

It advised the NBC to rescind this rushed clampdown and handle its regulatory role more professionally.

“Our party holds that, in the course of information handling, especially in a crisis situation as we witnessed in the last two weeks, where caution is required, draconian measures should not be an option. Rather, all efforts should be towards national healing,” the party added.

It stated that instead of seeking to gag the media, Nigerians would rather expect establishments like the NBC to be on the side of the people by urging government agencies to come up with information, particularly, such that contain critical pieces of evidence that would guarantee justice for victims of brutality by unscrupulous security operatives.

“While the PDP calls for caution by all Nigerians, especially in the handling of information, we urge agencies of government to be mindful of actions that are capable of acerbating the already precarious situation in which we have found ourselves.”

The PDP restates its call for calm and restrain in the general interest of the unity and stability of our nation.

Posted On Monday, 26 October 2020 22:18 Written by

Nosa Onaghise, a 33 year-old Nigerian residing in Austin, Texas has been sentenced to 51 months in US federal prison for his participation in a conspiracy that laundered more than $1.7 million.

Onaghise was sentenced for his role in a conspiracy that laundered more than $1.7 million in Business Email Compromise (BEC) scam proceeds, stolen from multiple companies.

He must also pay $1,639,419.57 in restitution, pay a $230,000 money judgment, forfeit $14,282.50 seized from a bank account, and be placed on supervised release for three years, after completing jail term.

Onaghise’s sentence was announced by U.S. Attorney Gregg N. Sofer; Special Agent in Charge Shane Folden, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), San Antonio; and, Inspector in Charge Adrian Gonzalez, U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), Houston Division

BEC scam modus operandi

In a BEC scheme, scammers target businesses and individuals making wire transfer payments, often targeting employees with access to company finances.

The scammers trick the employees into making wire transfer payments to bank accounts thought to belong to trusted partners—except the money ends up in accounts controlled by the fraudsters.

Sometimes the scammers use computer intrusion techniques to alter legitimate payment request emails, changing the recipient bank accounts. Sometimes they send spoofed emails from email addresses similar to the real email accounts used by trusted partners.

Onaghise’s trial

On December 12, 2018, Onaghise pleaded guilty to one count of passport fraud admitting to attempting to use a false, forged or counterfeit passport to open several bank accounts in the U.S. in 2018, in furtherance of the fraud scheme.

On December 20, 2019, Joseph Odibobhahemen, a 28-year-old Nigerian citizen formerly residing in Austin and Onaghise’s co-defendant, was sentenced to 78 months in federal prison for his role in the fraud scheme.

Court records in this indictment (A18CR358), and the indictment also returned in Austin against four other co-conspirators (A19CR78), show that between November 2016 and April 2019, over $10 million was allegedly sent by victims to accounts controlled by the conspirators, who were able to take in excess of $6 million before law enforcement or financial institutions stopped the fraudulent transfers.

Onaghise, Odibobhahemen and the others acquired or controlled dozens of bank accounts opened in the U.S., including in Austin, utilizing fraudulent identification documents, including fraudulent foreign passports in fake names.

Once the funds were fraudulently procured and deposited into these bogus accounts, the defendants worked quickly to withdraw or transfer the funds.

The four additional co-conspirators—Bameyi Omale, Chinonso Agbaji, Igho Calaba and Chibuzor Uba—have all pleaded guilty and are currently serving lengthy federal prison terms: Omale, 135 months; Agbaji, 78 months; Calaba, 30 months; and Uba, 36 months.

“Scammers and fraudsters beware! We will bring the full weight of federal law enforcement down on those who prey on the legitimate business community here in Austin and elsewhere in this district,” stated U.S. Attorney Sofer.

“The sentence and restitution order handed down today demonstrate the serious nature of these offences – offences that damage our economy and harm innocent victims. If you are engaged in this shameful and illegal activity, you can expect to go to federal prison.”

“This federal investigation uncovered a sophisticated scheme to steal from U.S. businesses,” said HSI San Antonio Special Agent in Charge Folden.

“These types of crimes cost U.S. citizens hundreds of millions of dollars each year to finance criminal organizations around the world. HSI and its law enforcement partners will continue to do everything possible to stop this kind of fraud and to protect the citizens of the United States.”

“Technological advancements have led to the sophistication of fraudulent schemes,” stated USPIS Inspector in Charge Gonzalez.

“However, no matter what their scheme may be, if criminals use the U.S. Mail in furtherance of it, they will face the full investigative force of the Postal Inspection Service. Postal Inspectors will work tirelessly with our law enforcement partners, such as HSI, to ensure these fraudsters are brought to justice.”

* From US Justice Department statement

Posted On Monday, 26 October 2020 14:01 Written by

The Presidency, yesterday, came under attack from former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Nobel Laureate Professor Wole Soyinka over Tuesday’s shooting of ENDSARS protesters by the Nigerian Army at the Lekki Tollgate in Lagos.
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) said it had already dragged President Mohammad Buhari’s government and the military before the International Criminal Court (ICC) over the matter.
Scores of protesters were killed as shooters believed to be officers of the Nigerian military opened fire on hundreds of youths keeping vigil at the Lekki tollgate to demand an end to police brutality. Many were also wounded. Still on rampage over the killing irate youths, yesterday, embarked on massive destruction of national and state-owned assets across the country.

The worst hit was Lagos, which lost a handful of assets, including some newly commissioned state-owned bus terminals, some media outfits and at least two more police stations. Governor Sanwo-Olu’s fa,ily house was also attacked.

Obasanjo, in a statement, blamed Buhari for the killing of #EndSARS protesters. He insisted that Buhari and his “lieutenants” did not exhaust all opportunities for dialogue with the protesters before resorting to use of force.
The former President said it was regrettable that Buhari used brute force to further anger the youths.
Obasanjo’s statement titled, “Violence Against Protesters in Nigeria: An Appeal for Calm,” was made available to journalists through his Special Assistant on Media, Kehinde Akinyemi, in Abeokuta yesterday.

He, however, enjoined protesting youths in the country to give peace a chance as they go about making their legitimate demands.

Obasanjo expressed sadness over the shooting of the protesters by the Nigerian Army and the ongoing destruction of properties by the angry youths.
The former President urged Buhari to address the youths and accede to their demands before things get out of control.

Reminiscent of the highhandedness of the late military dictator, General Sani Abacha between 1993 and 1998, Professor Soyinka, in his written position, said the country was back to the “Abacha years.”

“It is absolutely essential to let this government know that the Army has now replaced SARS in the demonic album of the protesters,” Soyinka insisted. “My enquiry, so far, indicates that the Lagos governor did not invite in the Army, did not complain of a ‘breakdown in law and order.’ Nevertheless, the Centre has chosen to act in an authoritarian manner and has inflicted a near incurable wound on the community psyche.”

Soyinka said it would be “pathetic and unimaginative to claim, as some have done,” that the continued protests hurt the nation’s economy, especially as COVID-19 has battered the Nigerian economy for more than eight months.

“Of course, it is not easy to bring down COVID under a hail of bullets – human lives are easier target, and there are even trophies to flaunt as evidence of victory – such as the blood-soaked Nigerian flag that one of the victims was waving at the time of his murder,” he said.

Denouncing the 24-hour curfews imposed by some state governors, Soyinka advised the affected governors to take immediate step by demanding withdrawal of those soldiers and to convoke Town Hall meetings as a matter of urgency.

“Take over the security of your people with whatever resources you can rummage,” he advised.
He said the Army must apologise, not merely to the nation but to the global community. “The facts are indisputable – you, the military, opened fire on unarmed civilians. There has to be structured restitution and assurance that such aberrations will not again be recorded. Then both governance and its security arms can commence a meaningful, lamentably overdue dialogue with society. Do not attempt to dictate – Dialogue,” Soyinka advised.

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) condemned the “dastardly” shooting and killing of #Endsars protesters by some unidentified men of the Nigerian Military. President of the Association, Mr. Olumide Akpata, yesterday, said the lawyers’ body strongly condemned the reckless, lawless, calculated and premeditated attack. The NBA stated that, even if the protesters at the Lekki Toll Plaza were in breach of the curfew imposed by the Lagos State Government, such a misdemeanor or breach did not warrant the use of live ammunition by the Nigerian military to confront otherwise peaceful, unarmed and defenseless protesters. Consequently, the NBA requested the military high command to immediately identify and name the officers involved in the killings for immediate prosecution and dismissal in line with extant laws.

Following the attacks, the Presidency, yesterday, sued for calm and understanding of citizens, as the implementation of the reforms gets Federal attention.

According to a statement signed by Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, the Presidency restated the commitment of Buhari’s administration to the implement Police reforms in the country.

It expressed delight that states had begun to set up various judicial panels of inquiry to investigate the sundry police misconducts.

“At the last count, no fewer than 13 states have gone ahead to establish the Judicial Panels of Inquiry as resolved by the National Economic Council to address the question of redress and justice for victims of police brutality across the country,” said Buhari.

States that have set up the panels so far are: Lagos, Kaduna, Delta, Ekiti, Ogun, Anambra, Enugu, Imo, Plateau, Edo, Nasarawa, Ondo and Akwa Ibom.

The statement further explained that President Buhari “welcomes the promptness of these necessary subnational actions, and reaffirms his commitment to supporting the state governments to ensure that justice is achieved for all victims of police brutality in Nigeria.

“Under the Chairmanship of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the National Economic Council (NEC) at its meeting on Thursday October 15, 2020 resolved to establish State-level Judicial Panels of Inquiry, to investigate allegations of Police brutality and ensure that all erring personnel are brought to justice.”

But SERAP, in a petition sent to Mrs Fatou Bensouda, ICC Prosecutor, yesterday, urged the court to “promptly investigate reports that Nigerian authorities, military, and some politicians have used/ and are using thugs, soldiers and security agents to intimidate, harass, attack and kill #EndSARS peaceful protesters in several parts of Nigeria, including Abuja, Lagos, Edo, Osun, Plateau, and Kano states.”

SERAP also urged Mrs Bensouda to “push for those suspected to be responsible for these crimes, mostly security officials, soldiers, some politicians and other actors who directly or indirectly have individually and/or collectively contributed to the attacks, deaths and injuries, and are therefore complicit in the crimes, to be tried by the ICC.”

The group, among other demands, urged the ICC to urgently commence an investigation proprio motu on the widespread and systematic problem of attacks on protesters, with a view to determining whether these amount to violence against the Nigerian people and crime against humanity within the Court’s jurisdiction. “In this respect, we also urge you to invite representatives of the Nigerian government (and) the military to provide written or oral testimony at the seat of the Court, so that the Prosecutor is able to conclude since available information whether there is a reasonable basis for an investigation, and to submit a request to the Pre-Trial Chamber for authorisation of an investigation.”

A coalition of civil society organisations expressed deep shock over the killing of peaceful protesters across Nigeria. The group, made of 30 separate organisations, collectively declared a seven-day national morning for the dead. They said that “the attempt to fight for justice over police brutality has again revealed the brutal nature of the Nigerian state. At the last count, not less than 40 Nigerians have lost their lives as a result of violent attempts to crack down or disrupt the ongoing protests against police brutality. There is also documentary evidence, which indicts a combined force of sponsored thugs and members of the Nigerian security forces for the deaths of innocent protesters. Particularly disturbing is the massacre of unarmed and very peaceful protesters at the Lekki Tollgate in Lagos,” the coalition said.

MEANWHILE, the Minority Caucus in the House of Representatives, yesterday, condemned the killing of unarmed protesters by security operatives at Lekki Tollgate and other parts of the country.

The caucus in a statement by its leader, Mr Ndudi ELumelu argued that “such wicked act of extra-judicial killing of defenseless citizens, by suspected agents of the state, could not be justified or condoned.

“As lawmakers and representatives of the people, we cannot accept this gruesome execution of our young ones in their own country by security operatives. Life is sacred and no one has the right to terminate the life of another just because he has the apparatus of state power,” he said

IN the same vein, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) charged President Buhari to take responsibility for the shooting and reported killing of peaceful and unarmed young protesters by military operatives at Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos on Tuesday night.

“President Buhari is the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces and the buck stops on his table,” the party declared in a statement released yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan.

The PDP said it was shocked at President Buhari’s stance, “particularly his inability to demonstrate the capacity for concerned, attentive and proactive governance and command structure, while the nation he presides over dangerously slides into anarchy.”

According to the party, “a well structured governance response from Mr. President, as the father of the nation, would have calmed frayed nerves and averted the crisis, violence, deaths, destruction of property and the avoidable losses we are witnessing today.”

It described, as heartrending, the fact that a “once united, viable, resilient and cohesive nation handed over to President Buhari in 2015 is fast collapsing in his hands.

“In countries where presidents are alive to the demands of their offices, the country would not be in turmoil with citizens being murdered in cold blood as witnessed in our country in the last 48 hours, yet the citizenry cannot find their president or Prime Minister coming out personally to offer consolation, provide direction and give hope.”

The opposition party further observed that the video showing police vans and vehicles belonging to other security agencies bringing in and coordinating armed thugs to attack peaceful protesters in Abuja pointed to serious complicity in high places.

According to the PDP, the unexplained dismantling of security cameras and lights at the Lekki Tollgate before military operatives opened fire on peaceful protesters, further pointed to high-level conspiracy against Nigerians.

It further noted that such unleashing of terror against peaceful demonstrators exposes a dangerous recourse to barefaced brutality, violence and killing to suppress and subjugate the Nigerian people.

Posted On Thursday, 22 October 2020 16:53 Written by

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo fired multiple tweets on Friday, seeking understanding from the #EndSAR protesters, apologising and assuring them that government is responding to their demands.

Here is his message to protesters:

Dear Nigerians, I know that many of you are angry, and understandably so. We could’ve moved faster and for this we are sorry.

We understand that you want to see action from us and I’m here to tell you that work is ongoing. I chaired a meeting of 36 state governors and the Minister of the FCT (NEC), where we resolved to set up judicial panels of inquiry so we can see justice served, and fast.

The reason being that only state governors, by law, can set up judicial inquiries in their states. The hearings will be public.

With Mr. President’s approval, SARS has been completely disestablished, and none of its former members will feature in any police tactical units.

I am sending my deepest condolences to the families of Jimoh Isiaq, and all those who have lost their lives at the hands of wayward police officers. To those injured, I wish a full and speedy recovery.

We have proposed that each state government set up a Victims’ Support Fund, which @NigeriaGov will support. This is the least that we can do to compensate for the injustice suffered at the hands of errant officers.

We also understand that the issues that you’re raising are bigger than just SARS. They’re deep and systemic and we’re undertaking comprehensive measures that will revamp the police by addressing issues of welfare, service conditions and training.

On Monday, Mr. President also reiterated his commitment to these extensive police reforms.

We will continue to update and engage with you all on these action steps and the ones to come, in the spirit of transparency, so that you can hold us accountable. We are, after all, here to serve you and we owe you a duty to win back your trust.

Keep safe. God bless you. – YO

Posted On Saturday, 17 October 2020 01:01 Written by
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