The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has blamed “the abysmal failure of security intelligence and, or, conspiracy of silence on the part of leadership of the Nigerian security agencies for the upsurge in politically-motivated violence during political campaigns.”
It called for the immediate suspension of the Rivers State commissioner of police and his counterpart in the State Security Service (state director of DSS), for their collective failure to nip in the bud series of bloody attacks targeted against Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC) campaigners.
The rights group noted that “the persistent and near-official acceptance of official incompetence and consistent show of shame by security chiefs in Nigeria has resulted in the spiraling violence and organised crimes being perpetrated by undesirable elements without the security agencies doing anything to check the growing menace.”
HURIWA said in a statement signed by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko: “We believe that state commissioners of police and their counterparts in the Department of State Security (DSS) must be made to take responsibility and account for any breach of peace and break down of law and order in the areas of jurisdiction. The principle of accountability and transparency demands that the persons on whose tables the bulk stop must account for any failure that occur on grand scale in their areas of jurisdiction.
“The only way that leads to the emergence of anarchy and impunity in Nigeria is the current practice whereby the Federal Government and the national hierarchies of the security community have come to live with the ugly reality that those who bear responsibility for keeping security and the rule of law shouldn’t be sanctioned administratively for breach of peace and emergence of anarchy in their areas of jurisdiction. (The) Nigerian state must break this vicious circle of official silence whenever senior security officers failed in their duty to provide security of lives and property in their immediate areas of official jurisdiction.”
On the ugly incident in Okrika, Rivers State, in which the governorship candidate of APC was attacked and the campaign rally disrupted so viciously and violently, HURIWA said the belated dramatic public media show being put up by Inspector-General of Police, Mr Suleiman Abba, to investigate the causes of the violence will not achieve any meaningful result, as long as the commissioner of police in charge of that state remains on his duty post, while the so-called investigation is proceeding.
The rights group said the Police Service Commission’s constitutional duty of enforcement of discipline on erring senior police officers has been duplicated, and it is being infringed upon, if the internal probe by the Inspector-General of Police is allowed to overshadow the properly constituted independent investigation that the Nigeria Police Commission ought to provide, if members of that body want Nigerians to see them as persons of integrity and character.
“We completely reject this fake investigation and the internal kangaroo panel by the serving Inspector-General of Police, and hereby call for comprehensive independent investigation so any indicted police officer is appropriately prosecuted in competent courts of law, without any cover-up, as we are already used to. We now understand why opposition mounted in some civil society circles rejecting the nomination and confirmation of the current Chairman of the Police Service Commission, the retired inspector-general of police, Mr Mike Mbama Okiro. Since his emergence, this commission that was in institutional slumber has completely gone comatose. The chairman and members are busy gallivanting around and playing partisan politics while the Policing Institution in Nigeria gradually dies away,” the group said.
HURIWA specifically condemned as despicable and irrational the violent attack on the crew from Channels, a local private television detailed to cover the APC’s governorship campaign in Okrika by armed political thugs that stormed the venue of the campaign and caused chaos, leading to the death of innocent Nigerians.
It also demanded that media workers who cover political campaigns must be provided sufficient safeguards and security against politically targeted violent attacks, by armed political thugs belonging to rival parties. Because, in the view of the association, the journalists detailed to cover political campaigns are completely non-partisan and are simply carrying out their legitimate duties of educating, entertaining and informing the rest of Nigerians and the world in line with the demands of their profession, and provisions of the Nigerian Constitution (as amended), particularly Section 22, which makes the media the social vanguards and watchdogs of the society, for the preservation of good and qualitative governance in Nigeria.
The group said the handwriting has been on the wall since one year now that political violence will spark off in Rivers State. And many arrests of unscrupulous persons with illegal weapons were made in Rivers State over a year ago, but these culprits were let off the hook; and security officials have failed to put in place proactive and effective anti-violence measures to check the unprecedented rate of politically targeted killings that are happening now.
“The Office of the Rivers State Attorney-General must bring all the indicted armed political thugs and their sponsors to trial in competent courts of law; and the Nigeria Police must be reformed to weed out all the undesirable elements that have found their ways into that near-decadent and rapidly collapsing force. The Department of State Security must also vigorously be on top of their game, to save Nigeria from becoming engulfed completely in violent conflagration and anarchy,” it said.
HURIWA equally condemned the series of violent attacks that targeted the campaign train of President Good luck Jonathan in some Northern states. It has, therefore, canvassed immediate identification, arrest and prosecution in competent courts of law, all indicted armed political gangs implicated in the spate of attacks against President Jonathan’s campaign rallies.
The group said: “What has happened to the thugs that set ablaze the campaign buses of President Jonathan in Jos, Plateau State capital? Why are the thugs not yet charged in court, or are some persons bigger than the law of the land? What about those political thugs that stoned Mr President in Bauchi and other flashpoints in the North? If the Bauchi State government is unwilling to investigate this sad incident, because of the debate in the media between the state governor and the FCT minister on the person that sponsored the political thugs, then the Federal Government should apprehend and bring to trial these thugs and their sponsor, even if these sponsors are top government officials.”
But in reaction to the attacks, the Assistant Inspector General of Police, Zone Six, Johnson Tunde Ogunsakin, restated the readiness of the police to bring to book those behind the recent Okrika mayhem.
Ogunsakin, who spoke to newsmen shortly after a meeting with the leaderships of political parties in Port Harcourt, said that the police will get to the root of the matter.
He said that the police have already commenced investigation into the matter, noting that those discovered to have incited the violence will not be spared.
Ogunsakin, however, stressed the need for elders of Okrika nation and the various political parties to talk to their youths with a view to avoid further breakdown of law and order in the area, noting that the police will continue to maintain peace in all parts of the state.
Similarly, the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to sanction the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for violating the peace accord recently signed by leaderships of political parties in the state.
Chairman of the party, Chief Davies Ibiamu Ikanya, who spoke to newsmen during the meeting in Port Harcourt, said that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has violated the tenets of the peace accord, and therefore, needs to be sanctioned.
Ikanya said that the APC will continue to remain law abiding with the view to guaranteeing the peace and security of the state.
The APC chairman also expressed the party’s confidence in the ability and capacity of the Rivers State police command to ensure law and order as well as secure the lives and property of residents of the state.
He said that the state APC has never had any doubts that the police could provide a level playing field for all political parties, but regretted that the police effort has been slowed down by pressures from the Presidency.
Ikanya challenged the police to arrest and prosecute all those responsible for the disruption of the APC rally and killing of a police officer in Okrika, last week.
However, the state Secretary of PDP, Ibibia Walter, has dismissed calls by APC chairman for INEC to sanction the party for allegedly violating a peace accord, signed by the parties with the commission.
Walter said that the PDP has never been involved in any acts of violence, and described the APC call as baseless and unfounded.
Meanwhile, former Niger Delta militant leader, Ateke Tom, has rubbished claims that the President’s wife, Mrs. Patience Jonathan, was behind the attack on the campaign rally of the All Progressives Congress in Okrika Local Government Area of Rives State, recently.
Some members of APC had alleged that Mrs. Jonathan, who is a native of Okrika Local Government Area, was behind the attack to disrupt the rally.
However, Ateke Tom, has come out to defend the First Lady, asserting that Mrs. Jonathan would never be involved in the sponsorship of violence, describing her as a woman of peace.
He said, “Politicians are pointing accusing fingers; but they are all politicians. But what I am sure of is that the President’s wife can never be involved in the attack at Okrika.
“She is seen as the mother of the country and she hates violence and the shedding of blood. She can’t be involved in such an act and I disagree with those saying she is responsible for the attack on APC campaign ground”, he added.
Meanwhile, The governorship candidate of the APC in Rivers, Dr Dakuku Peterside, said on Saturday that Cpl. Ifeanyi Okorie, laid down his life in defence of democracy in Nigeria.
Peterside, represented by his running-mate, Mr Okorie Asita, made the remark in Port Harcourt, when a delegation of the APC leadership visited Mrs Gift Ifeanyi, wife of the policeman, who was killed at Okrika on February18.
He said the party never thought that opponents would hire thugs to disrupt APC rally in Okrika, leading to the death of the policeman.
“Your husband laid down his life for the sake of peace in this country and for our sake.”
“As you are mourning, all of us are crying as we owe him a depth of gratitude because it could have been any of us if he was not there,” “Your husband laid down his life defending democracy, he died fighting to maintain peace, he died securing us and we cannot forget that in a hurry,” he added.
He said as a people, the party had come to assure the family that they were not alone in pain.
Peterside said the party had seen the little children Okorie left behind, adding “we are all parents here, so we understand the pressure his death would expose you to’’.
He said that children needed their parents, not just their parents’ money and they needed their parents to be alive and answer their questions in life.
Peterside said the death of Okorie would not stop the children from realizing their destiny as they would benefit from the state government’s scholarship.
Gift thanked the party men for visiting and appreciating the pains she would face raising four children.
90% Of Money Laundered Via Real Estate, EFCC Reveals
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says about 90 per cent of money laundering is done through the real estate sector.
The commission’s Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, stated this while featuring on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily, yesterday,
According to him, although the sector is monitored via the special control unit, more needed to be done.
According to Bawa, “One of the problems we have now is the real estate. 90 to 100 per cent of the resources are being laundered through the real estate.”
He said there are so many issues involved, but that they were working with the National Assembly to stop what he called “the gate keepers” as there would be reduction in looting if there is no one to launder the money.
Bawa, the EFCC boss, gave an example of a minister who expressed interest in a $37.5million property a bank manager put up for sale.
He said, “The bank sent a vehicle to her house and in the first instance $20million was evacuated from her house.
“They paid a developer and a lawyer set up a special purpose vehicle, where the title documents were transferred into.
“And he (the lawyer) is posing as the owner of the property. You see the problem. This is just one of many; it is happening daily.”
The EFCC chairman also revealed that he receives death threats often.
Asked to respond to President Muhammadu Buhari’s frequent “Corruption is fighting back” expression, Bawa said he was in New York, USA, last week, when someone called to threaten him.
“Last week, I was in New York when a senior citizen received a phone call from somebody that is not even under investigation.
“The young man said, ‘I am going to kill him (Bawa), I am going to kill him’.
“I get death threats. So, it is real. Corruption can fight back,” he said.
On corruption in the civil service, he said there were a lot of gaps, especially in contracts processing, naming “emergency contracts” as one.
Bawa said, “A particular agency is notorious for that. They have turned all their contracts to emergency contracts.”
However, he said, EFCC has strategies in place to check corruptions, one of which is “corruption risk assessments of MDAs”.
According to him, “I have written to the minister and would soon commence the process of corruption risk assessments of all the parastatals and agencies under the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to look at their vulnerability to fraud and advise them accordingly.”
Asked if the scope of corruption in the country overwhelms him, Bawa, the EFCC boss said, “Yes, and no.”
We’ve Spent N9bn To Upgrade RSUTH, Wike Confirms
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, says his administration has spent N9billion in upgrading structures and installation of new equipment at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH).
He said the fact that 40 per cent of the 2021 budget of the state is dedicated to provision of quality healthcare delivery was a further demonstration of the priority placed on the sector.
Wike made the explanation at the foundation laying ceremony for the construction of a Renal Centre at RSUTH, last Friday.
The governor said he made promise to Rivers people that the best would be provided to them in all sectors of the society within his capability because of the mandate they gave to him.
“As we came on here, I just looked around and I see the changes in this teaching hospital. I can say that we have put not less than N9billion in this teaching hospital.
“If you look at the budget, the health sector alone, what it’s taking from the Rivers State Government is not less than 40 percent of the 2021 budget.”
Speaking further, Wike said the state government cannot afford to implement free medical service programme in the present economic circumstance.
While dismissing the request for a subvention for RSUTH, Wike, however, commended the chief medical director and his team for their commitment to turnaround the fortunes of RSUTH.
“I have never seen anywhere that health services can be totally free. They’re telling me that people who come here can’t pay. I have never declared that this state is going to take over the health fees of anybody.”
Also speaking, the former Minister of Transport, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, who performed the flag-off, noted that Wike’s achievements in the health sector in particular, surpass what former governors of the state had done.
Sekibo said that the governor has given equal attention to every section of the health sector by providing complete health infrastructure that was positioning the state as a medical tourism destination in Nigeria.
Earlier, the Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Prof Princewill Chike, lauded Governor Nyesom Wike for his interest in the health of Rivers people.
He noted that the renal centre, when completed, would become another landmark development project in the health sector that would handle and manage all kidney-related ailments.
In his remarks, the Chief Medical Director of the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Friday Aaron, commended Wike for approving the renal centre.
Aaron explained that chronic kidney disease was a major burden globally with estimated 14 million cases in Nigeria.
According to him, over 240,000 of these cases require renal replacement therapy in the form of dialysis and renal transplant.
The CMD said the building that would house the centre was expected to be completed in six months and consists of two floors.
The ground floor, according to him, would house the haemodialysis unit with eight haemodialysis machines.
He further explained that the first floor of the centre would house the surgical component where most of the sophisticated equipment for kidney transplant would be installed.
Aaron said Wike has released the funds required to build, equip the centre as well as for the training of personnel locally and internationally.
Power Generation Falls 23% To 3,172MW
Power supply in Nigeria has failed to improve on last week’s performance, as it fell by 22.9 per cent from peak generation of 4,115Megawatts on Saturday to 3,172.20MW as at 5pm, yesterday, latest data from the System Operator has shown.
According to the data, most power plants were operating far below capacity due to gas shortage with Olorunsogo Power Plant 335MW capacity; and Sapele Power Plant, 450MW capacity; completely out.
Egbin was generating at 746MW; Omoku 37.20; Omotosho (NIPP) at 105MW; while Afam was generating at 80MW.
The data showed that on the average power generation in the past seven days were 4,120.9MW on Sunday, June 6; 4,249.4 on Monday, June 7; 4,000.9MW on Tuesday, June 8; 3,720.7 on Wednesday, June 9; 3,517 on Thursday, June 10; 3,765MW on Friday, June 11; and 4,115MW on Saturday, June 12.
The International Oil Companies (IOCs), had last warned that despite Nigeria’s huge gas reserves a lot needs to be done to attract investment to the sector to develop gas reserves to boost power generation in the country.
Speaking at the just concluded Nigeria International Petroleum Summit, the Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria/MD SPDC, Osagie Okunbor, said with 203trillion Cubic Feet of gas reserves, what was needed in the country is to deliver projects that would produce the gas.
“The challenge is not just growing the reserves but in producing these reserves for the benefits of our country. Essentially growing the reserves and delivering on the production is a function of two or three elements.
“I like to see infrastructure that is required for the development of these resources at two levels. Soft infrastructure is often the one that is more important than and that is the one that is actually drives most of what you see at site.”
“Soft infrastructure refers to the enabling environment and nothing pleases me as much seeing both the Senate President and the speaker of the house give very firm commitments about trying to pass the PIB this month.
“That is probably the big one of the enabling environment to provide the kind of stability we also need all sorts of other issues we need to that we have discussed severally in terms of sanctity of contract, stable policies and collaboration and I think we are well on our way there”, he added.
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