The commission of inquiry set up by Akwa Ibom government on witchcraft accusations, on Monday summoned the Village Head of Ibam Obot community to appear before it on Thursday.
It summoned the Village Head Chief Udofia Ekpo, Ediomo Akpan, Michael Jeremiah and some other members of Ibam Obot community to appear to testify on that day.
The summons followed testimonies by a 12- year-old child (names withheld), who was forced out of school on allegations that she was a witch.
The victim, told the commission that the village head stigmatised her when the matter was referred to him.
The commission ordered that the child should be kept in the custody of the Special Children’s Centre in Uyo.
The Justice Godwin Abraham-led commission was sworn in by Gov. Godswill Akpabio on on November 22.
In a testimony to the Commission, Mr Usen Theodre, the Proprietor of Fidel International Nursery and Primary School, where the child was a pupil, said that his private school had to shut down as parents withdrew their children from the school.
He said some parents took the action following allegations that one of the pupils was a witch.
He told the commission that he needed protection as members of the community had threatened to attack him because of their erroneous belief that he himself was a wizard.
Mr Leo Igwe of the International Humanist Movement, also addressed the commission and submitted further documentary evidence to support his earlier memorandum.
Igwe, in his oral presentation, said that he was committed to assisting the state government to end the child-witch syndrome.
“I have come here with the intention of helping to stamp out this menace and from my experience it is an issue that happens elsewhere and is not peculiar to Akwa Ibom alone,” he said.
The commission is at present receiving oral presentations from interested members of the public, who had earlier submitted written memoranda to it.
The panel comprises medical experts, lawyers, clergy and educationists.
The panel had the responsibility of recommending appropriate actions to be taken to protect children from being branded as witches and wizards in order to stamp out the menace.
Bayelsa Revives Nembe-Brass Road Project
There was celebration in Nembe and Brass Local Government Areas of Bayelsa State as the long-awaited road project linking both riverine councils was flagged off by the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, at Nembe.
The project, which is one of the three senatorial roads in the State, had been on the drawing board of successive administrations in the country from the colonial era in the 1940s.
The Governor Douye Diri administration, which made it one of its campaign promises to the people of the area, revived the project with the first phase of 21km and 10 bridges awarded to Setraco Nigeria Limited for N54.1billion.
The Tide gathered that the road when completed will open up the Brass Island, which has key national economic assets such as the Agip oil export terminal, the ongoing Brass Liquefied Natural Gas, and the Brass Fertiliser and Petrochemical projects.
Fashola, who was represented by the Director of Highways (South South), Mr. Godwin Eke, commended Governor Diri for commencing the project.
He said his ministry will leverage on the government’s current tax credit scheme with the Nigeria National Petroleum Company (NNPC) to the advantage of the project, emphasising that road development was another way of delivering prosperity to the people and congratulated the State Government on the strides achieved.
In his address, Governor Diri said the road had suffered several setbacks but that his administration was determined to bring to an end the sufferings of the people of Nembe and Brass in the hands of sea pirates and kidnappers.
The Governor lamented that steps initiated by his government to benefit from the Federal Government tax relief scheme through the Nigerian Agip Oil Company and the Federal Ministry of Petroleum resources were frustrated by some forces at the centre.
He noted that as a government committed to serving the people, it commenced the bidding process for suitable contractors and congratulated Setraco for winning the bid, assuring the Nembe and Brass people of his government’s commitment to the project, regardless of the dwindling economic situation in the country.
“Let me appreciate the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing and the Minister, who did not only reply when we wrote, but also showed keen interest in this project,” he said.
“We wanted to replicate what was being done in Bonny Island in Rivers State with the tax relief scheme of the present government at the centre. We thought that part of Agip’s tax remitted to the Federal Government can also be ploughed into construction of the Nembe-Brass road.
“Unfortunately, the reply we got from Agip was not encouraging. We, however, resolved that with or without Agip or any other person, this road must commence this year.
“We have all heard the history of this road dating back to the pre-independence era. I have also been told that even our former President, our own son, awarded the project for this same road for clearing.
“This road has suffered several setbacks. No wonder you find all the traditional leadership of Nembe present here today. That tells you the importance the people of Nembe Kingdom attach to this road. For us as a government, ours is to serve our people. These are the legacy projects that will speak for us and our children”, Governor Diri said.
The Bayelsa helmsman called on the youths and other stakeholders to take the project as their own and protect it, emphasizing the economic advantage of the road to the local economy as well as its attendant benefits to the nation at large.
Earlier, the Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Mr. Moses Teibowei, said the road will attract large investment to the Brass Island, which had the potential of an economic free trade zone and transform the area to an economic and tourism hub of the State.
Teibowei noted that the project was divided into three phases with the first phase commencing from Nembe to Saint Nicolas River, while the second phase will be a 600metre bridge crossing the river, and the third phase will be from the bridge to Twon-Brass.
Also, the Deputy Managing Director of Setraco Nigeria Limited, Mr. Ziad Muonanse, thanked the Governor for the confidence reposed in his company for construction of major roads in the styate, assuring that the company would deliver on the project to the highest of standards and within the stipulated time.
In a goodwill message, the Amanyanabo of Nembe, King Edmund Daukoru, expressed gratitude to Governor Diri for bringing to fruition a dream that had long been on their minds.
Also speaking, the Amanyanabo of Opu-Nembe, King Josiah Biobelemoye, described Diri as a true reflection of a miracle to the people of Nembe Kingdom through the groundbreaking of the project.
Meanwhile, the Amanyanabo of Twon-Brass and first Military Administrator of Old Rivers State, King Alfred Diete-Spiff, also commended Governor Diri for working towards ending the pain of the people.
In the same vein, his Okpoama Kingdom counterpart, King Ebitimi Banigo, noted hat after more than 50 years, their dream finally came true through the passion shown by Diri, promising that the gesture would be reciprocated by the people of the area.
The Tide gathered that the project is estimated to be completed in 24 to 36 months.
By: Ariwera Ibibo-Howells, Yenagoa
Army Constructs Health Centre In Edo Community
The Nigerian Army last Friday in Unogbo Community, Esan Central Local Government Area of Edo State, inaugurated and handed over the remodeled Unogbo Primary Health Care Centre to the community.
The Tide’s source reports that the remodeled facility is one of the quick impact projects approved for various communities across the country by the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.-Gen. Farouk Yahaya.
Yahaya, in his remarks shortly after inaugurating the facility, said the projects were executed in less privileged communities to provide succour in areas of needs.
He also said they were geared towards promoting civil/military cooperation and enhancing support for the Nigerian Army operations.
Represented by Maj.-Gen. Markus Kangye, Chief of Civil/Military Affairs, the COAS noted that the Nigerian Army under his leadership was fully aware of the high level of cooperation the Nigerian Army enjoyed from the civil populace in Edo, particularly.
He said the army had over the years, taken deliberate steps to honour and ensure it gave back to the society, the cooperation it had received by upholding its corporate social responsibilities.
“This is being done in line with my vision of having a professional Nigerian Army ready to accomplish assigned missions within a joint environment.
“In pursuance of this, I have ensured that senior officers from various communities in the country are connected to the larger populace, to enhance our civil/military relationship.
“This is one of the non kinetic aspect of our military operations,” he said.
The COAS further said in this respect, the need to ensure a good and cordial relationship with the civil populace and host communities where military operations were conducted, could not be over emphasised.
“This cordial relationship necessitated the conception of the construction and equipping of the health centre we are inaugurating today.
“This is very much in line with the civil military cooperation of the Nigerian Army which is tailored towards bridging the community gap with the Nigerian Army and the civil populace.”
Yahaya noted that the army had enjoyed and would continue to enjoy the cooperation of residents of the State in surmounting the challenges of insecurity.
“The Nigerian Army, with the support of other security agencies, will leave no stone unturned in ensuring general security of the country.” the COAS said.
“The project inaugurated today is one of several civil/military cooperation related projects and quick impact projects executed in various parts of the country,” the COAS further said.
In her remarks, the Edo State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Obehi Akoria, said the project was a dream come true for the community in particular and the State in general.
Akoria said Edo currently had 504 PHCs, adding that it was the responsibility of the Ministry of Health to improve these centres.
She said this was to ensure that they could serve the people and purpose for which they were built.
“That is why we are happy today to be part of the inauguration and handing over ceremony of this PHC.
“Ours is now to activate this centre and make it an example of the dream of the Edo Government.
“Ours now is to be sure that we have a pharmacy technician, who will be supervised by the pharmacist.
“We will also ensure there is a doctor as well as other staff to ensure that residents of Unogbo Community get quality medical care in the community.
Meanwhile, the Coordinator, Nigerian Army Special Projects, Maj.-Gen. Phillip Eromosele, a son of the community who inspired the execution of the project, said he was motivated to make positive change in his community.
According to him, “I didn’t want people in the community now to pass through what we passed through while growing up here, so I was motivated to make a positive change”.
USAID, NGO Train 2,000 Youths, Women On Cassava Value Chain
Revemi Trade Limited, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), through a grant from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has trained about 2,000 youths and women on cassava value chain in Delta State.
Revemi’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr Oreva Amata, disclosed this at a capacity building workshop, tagged, “Eki Farmers Support Programme”, organised by the company for peasant farmers in Delta South Senatorial District in Ozoro.
Amata noted that the programme was sponsored by USAID in partnership with Delta State Government and Townstalk.
According to him, Revemi, an Integrated Agrotech and Agro Commodities Trading Company, has as target to train 10,000 based pyramid farmers and equip them with requisite information on how to plant, harvest, process and market their products to make money.
“We started the training in February this year, in Delta North. In June, we also trained those in Delta Central, and today, we are training farmers from Delta South Senatorial District in Ozoro.
“So far, we have trained over 2,000 low pyramid farmers but we are targeting 10,000 farmers in the State,” he said.
On the choice of cassava, Amata said that cassava remains a crop in which Nigeria has a comparative advantage in addition to the many by-product that cassava offers to the market.
Noting that it has capacity to grow Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Products, he said: “Our mission is to bridge the critical gap in food security in Africa.
“As a first class graduate of economics, every time I heard that farmers are poor in Africa. This is contradictory because foreign nationals are making billions of money from agriculture.
“Revemi as winner of the COVID-19 Food Security challenge in 2021, we won a grant from the USAID to carry out this training to liberate our poor farmers from hunger, increase their income by linking them up to the market.”
“Agriculture is the backbone of development in any nation, it creates jobs for youths and women and also ensure security because the youths will be gainfully employed,” Amata said.
He said his company would link all the trained farmers to sources of finance, provide them with information on climate change, weather conditions and availability of land across the State and from government sources.
On his part, the Assistant Director, State Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resource, Mr Anslem Emikpe, advised the farmers to form clusters to enable them engage Government, access funds and land.
Also, Dr Friday Okei, a Resource Person, said training on cassava value chain exposes the farmers to varieties of byproducts of cassava, such as starch, flour, garri, chips, raw material for production of alcohols and drugs and others.
In an interview, Managing Director, Uzere Cassava Processing Factory, Mr Samuel Askia, urged the farmers and governments to take positive initiative on what the NGO is doing, adding that the training gives hope for a brighter future for farmers in Nigeria.
“It is time for us to see agriculture as a commercial venture, so that we can benefit from the support the government at the centre is giving,” he said.
The beneficiaries, Mr Lawrence Ugwologho and Mrs Martha Odus lauded the programme and thanked the organisers for impacting them with the right knowledge on best practices on cassava value chain.
They said the training had reawakened their minds on how to plant, harvest, process and market their cassava to make money for the family.
They, however, called for additional support in finance and land to expand cassava cultivation in the State.
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