The Federal High Court in Abuja, yesterday, granted the Department of State Services (DSS), permission to detain publisher of Sahara Reporters, Omoyele Sowore, for 45 days.
The DSS had filed a motion to the court to detain the convener of the proposed #RevolutionNow protest for 90 days, but the court only granted 45 days.
Recall that Sowore was whisked away by members of the DSS at his residence over the weekend for what it termed ‘treasonable’ statement, for describing the proposed protest as a revolution.
Mixed reactions have trailed his arrest and that of several other demonstrators.
The European Union said the protests remain a cardinal part of democracy as long as they remain peaceful.
The EU Ambassador to Nigeria, Ketil Karlsen, however, said it was not the job of the EU to tell Nigeria how to conduct its internal affairs but added that the judiciary should be allowed to do its job.
Karlsen said this while responding to questions at the ‘departure orientation for the 2019 Erasmus+ Scholarship Awardees’ in Abuja, yesterday.
He said he was not aware of any petition sent to the EU by rights groups who had criticised the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government over the clampdown on protesters.
The ambassador said, “The European Union stands firm on the principles of freedom of speech and our fundamental values. Of course, it is important in any democratic society for people to be able to participate.
“I am not aware of any petition following the latest events in Nigeria but what I can say is that as long as people seek peaceful means to demonstrate and voice their political opinion, this is what we see as a natural part of a thriving democracy.
“Of course, any democracy or any society in the world must jealously guard and make sure that such pronouncements are always non-violent and that they respect the fundamental rules of the game and democracy at the end of the day and it is for the Nigerian justice system, in the end, to follow up on specific cases and as long as these cases are being dealt with in the Nigerian justice system, it is not for the EU or the EU ambassador to judge what is right or wrong in these occasions but of course we always follow very carefully when there are dissenting voices in the countries where we operate and we listen very carefully to all of them.”
The Federal Government had last Saturday arrested Sahara Reporters publisher, Omoyele Sowore, for organising a nationwide protest calling for a revolution.
Last Monday, security agencies also clamped down on protesters, arresting those who decided to demonstrate at the National Stadium, Surulere.
A Federal High Court in Abuja granted the Department of State Services’ request to detain Sowore for 45 days pending investigation for alleged treason and terrorism.
Similarly, Ohanaeze Ndigbo youths wing has joined the call for immediate release of the convener of the #RevolutionNow protests, Omoyele Sowore.
It condemned the Federal Government for disrupting the protest, saying it was not intended to upset its agenda.
In a statement yesterday by the national leader of the group, Dr. Arthur Uchenna Obiorah, the body said Sowore’s detention fell below international standard.
It asked the leaders to read between the lines to discover the protesters’ demand in the general interest of the country.
The statement partly reads: “We refute the claims that the group’s intention was to upset the government agenda.
“The authority should read between the lines and decode the true messages behind the nationwide agitations.
“We request an unconditional release of the Presidential candidate of the Africa Action Congress (AAC), Omoyele Sowore whose detention by the men of the Department of Secret Service DSS, has fallen below international standard that allows freedom of association, expression and assemblage of men of like minds.
“The nation is in dire need of national conference where most of the questions itemized by Sowore are considered for implementation.
“The clamour for #RevolutionNow by Nigerians should be well thought about.
“It is an avenue where Nigerians explore to pour out their minds on the state of the nation in protest of what they feel is not right within the context of the universal coverage.”
The youths’ leader further called on President Buhari to reconsider the earlier request by the Southern and Middle Belt leaders on restructuring of the country that would devolve powers to the federating units.
Also, the pan-Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, has slammed the Federal Government for arraigning human rights activist and convener, #RevolutionNow protests, Omoyele Sowore, under the Terrorism Act.
It also condemned the court ruling remanding the former presidential candidate in custody for 45 days.
The National Publicity Secretary, Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, said the order marked “a new phase in the orchestrated conscription of the democratic space in Nigeria.”
Insisting that the Terrorism Act cannot be superior to the Constitution which stipulated that a citizen cannot be detained for more than 48 hours before being charged to court, Afenifere in a statement, yesterday, stated that Sowore was arrested before he could commit a crime, noting that he was being held illegally using the legal process.
The group said, “The order represents a new phase in the orchestrated conscription of the democratic space in Nigeria. Sowore was arrested before he could commit an offence and the DSS (Department of State Services) seems to want to go shopping for evidence to prosecute him.”
Odumakin advised the government to act in conformity with the democratic tenets in dealing with the rights of Nigerians, describing Sowore’s detention as a great injustice.
The Convener, Free Nigeria Movement, Raphael Adebayo, said Nigerians were appalled by the court order which he described as unjust.
He said the ruling was a testament to the entrenched injustice in the country which the #RevolutionNow protests intended to end.
The movement demanded Sowore’s immediate release, stating that his continued incarceration “will only hasten the revolution which has already begun in different parts of the country.”
Adebayo stated, “Any society where it is easier to persecute ordinary citizens than it is to prosecute thieving elite is a society heading towards anarchy.
“By ordering the DSS to further detain Sowore, the court has made it clear that it is far from being an institution of justice in which the people can trust.”
Meanwhile, a political activist and former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Timi Frank, has described the judiciary as Nigeria’s major problem, adding that most judges are now shy and afraid of delivering fair judgement because of their corruption records.
Frank, however, called on the international community to also ban judges and their immediate family members, who could not summon courage to deliver the right judgement.
In a statement released to newsmen, yesterday in Abuja, Frank condemned the court ruling ordering the detention of Omoyele Sowore for 45 days, he urged the United Stated of America, United Kingdom and the European Union to fish out corrupt and compromised Judges in Nigeria and enforce visa restrictions against like politicians.
The Bayelsa-born political activist wondered the type of offence that Sowore committed to warrant his detention for 45 days without trial in a court of law.
Frank described the detention order as the manifestation of what he described as a ‘Satanic collaboration’ between the executive and the judiciary to suppress opposition voices in the country, adding that Judges who are often quick to grant bail to corrupt politicians are afraid to release activists fighting for the socio-political emancipation of the country and her people.
He called on Nigerians not to acquiesce in the face of evil but to speak out and take the struggle to the door steps of corrupt Nigerian Judges in order to save the nation’s judiciary.
“I urge the Judiciary to wake up because Nigerians are becoming impatient with the kind of judgements coming out from the temple of justice expected to be the last hope of the common man.
“When people cannot get justice, they would sooner than later resort to self-help. Some corrupt Judges presently manning some courts should not add to Nigeria’s woes because posterity’s unavoidable judgement awaits both the Judged and the Judges.
“It is expected of judge to be fair, bold and not succumb to intimidation from any angle. The APC’s administration has a penchant for manipulating the nation’s judicial system but any Judge who cannot resist their pressure should step aside now before Nigerians will rise against them.
“I hereby call on Nigerians to prepare to take the protest to the door-steps of the judiciary as they are the biggest problem we have today.
“Besides, I call on the USA, UK, EU and other members of the international community to fish out corrupt elements in the judiciary and place travel ban on them like some of them have done to the 2019 election riggers,” he said.
Minister Blames Judiciary For Prisons’ Congestion
Aregbesola, represented by Special Adviser on Nigerian Correctional Service, Suleiman Tala, stated this while delivering a paper at a policy advocacy conference entitled, “Decongestion of Correctional Centres: Status Quo”, organised as part of the 60th-anniversary celebration of the Order of The Knights of St Mulumba, Nigeria, Lagos Metropolitan Council, which was held in Lagos, adding that the primary responsibility of NCOS is to hold offenders pending the adjudication of their cases before a law court.
“It is important for the public to be aware that the NCOS and the Ministry of Interior are trying their best to tackle the issue from different angles as the length of time the inmates stay at the custodian centre is not determined by NCOS but by the justice system. I may not be able to reiterate exactly what the challenges are with the judiciary, however, as it affects the NCOS we are doing all we can not to compromise the traditional responsibility of the NCOS,” he stated.
Representing the Inspector General of Police, Baba Usman, Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, accepted that the police contribute to the congestion but gave his reasons.
“Inconsistence of the appearance of police officers to give evidence at trials has been identified as one of the alleged causes of prolonging trial but the IGP has mandated officers must attend court cases as at when due. The police are being hampered by a high level of distrust between the citizens and their police institution,” he stated.
Also at the conference, Lagos State Catholic Archbishop, Alfred Adewale Martins, who was represented by Rev. Paschal Uwaezeapu, stated that decongestion of the prisons would continue to be a matter as long as the government has refused to fix the country.
“The prison would continue to be congested if we don’t fix the society. As long as our society is a place where everybody takes for himself without considering the neighbour then our prison would continue to be congested. If we need to fix the prison we need to fix the family. These prisoners come from a family. We need to fix the education system also. We need to promote justice, without all these, the prison will soon overflow,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the Lagos Metropolitan Grand Knight, KSM William Adebisi, urged the government to declare a state of emergency on the congestion of prisons.
“The government needs to take the matter seriously as it affects the health of the inmates, economy of the company and behavioural change of the inmates,” he stated.
FG Seeks $3bn With Eurobond Offer
The Debt Management Office (DMO) said, yesterday, that Virtual meetings with investors have been scheduled for today, and September 20, 2021.
It said, “In order to avail local investors the opportunity to invest in the Eurobonds, meetings will also be held with local investors.
“This is the first time local investors will be included in the Roadshows, and this is one of the reasons why a Nigerian Bookrunner (Chapel Hill Denham Advisory Services Ltd) was appointed as one of the Transaction Advisers.
“Through the Eurobond issuance, Nigeria is expected to raise up to $3billion but no more than $6.2billion.”
According to the DMO, the issuance for which all statutory approvals have been received, would be to implement the New External Borrowing in the 2021 Appropriation Act and that “Proceeds are for the financing of various projects in the Act.”
The agency gave further insight, saying, “In addition to providing funding to part-finance the deficit in the 2021 Appropriation Act, the issuance of Eurobonds by Nigeria benefits the country in many other strategic ways; amongst which are: 1. It is an inflow of foreign exchange, leading to an increase in External Reserves.
“External Reserves help support the Naira Exchange Rate, and Nigeria’s sovereign rating.
“When Nigeria raises funds externally, through Eurobonds, it frees up space in the domestic market for private sector and sub-national borrowers. In effect, it helps the sovereign not to crowd out other borrowers in the domestic market.
“The issuance of Eurobonds by Nigeria has opened up opportunities for Nigeria’s corporate sector notably banks, to issue Eurobonds to raise capital in the ICM.
“By so doing, their capital base has been strengthened to provide banking services whilst also meeting regulatory requirements. Nigeria has a sovereign yield curve in the ICM, extending up to 30 years.
“The local listing of Nigeria’s Eurobonds on the Nigerian Exchange Ltd. and the FMDQ Securities Exchange Ltd., have increased the range of products on these two (2) exchanges and their respective market capitalization.
“Overall, Eurobond issuances by Nigeria and the investor meetings that precede the pricing have provided a strong global platform for Nigeria to tell its own story and opportunities available in Nigeria for investors.”
The Transaction Advisers appointed by Nigeria for the issuance were: International Bookrunners – JP Morgan, Citigroup Global Markets Limited; Joint Lead Managers -Standard Chartered Bank and Goldman Sachs; Nigerian Bookrunner – Chapel Hill Denham Advisory Services Ltd; Financial Adviser – FSDH Merchant Bank Ltd; while White & Case LLP, was appointed International Legal Adviser; and Banwo&Ighodalo would serve as Nigerian Legal Adviser.
The last time Nigeria accessed the ICM was November 2018.
Insecurity: Put Nigeria First, FG Tells Media
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made the call in Abuja during the ceremony of the renaming of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Headquarters Building after the former Managing Director and Board Chairman of NAN, late Wada Maida.
Mohammed said it may seem obvious and trite, but for any professional, including a journalist in Nigeria to be able to carry out his or her responsibility at all, the nation must first exist, in peace.
“In other words, if the country goes down, all professionals and everybody go down. It is that stark, and this is why I want to use this platform to appeal to our media to put Nigeria first”, Mohammed said.
Speaking further, the minister said if one picked up most newspapers, watched most television stations or listened to most radio stations in the country, one will be right to think Nigeria is a country at war.
While acknowledging that there were challenges in the country, especially in the area of security, Mohammed, however, said the Buhari administration had not only acknowledged the challenges, it is earnestly tackling the challenges.
“A good example is the decisive manner in which our gallant troops are tackling the banditry in the North-West or the way they are combating the terrorists in the North-East. Our security agencies have also successfully tackled the separatists in the South-East and South-West and the militants in the South-South. Unfortunately, these efforts have only been perfunctorily reflected in the reportage of the security challenges that we face. This is not only unfair, especially to those who are sacrificing their lives to keep us safe, it is unpatriotic.
“To illustrate the damage this non-acknowledgement of the efforts of the security agencies pose to the country, let me tell you what transpired when I recently hosted some members of the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO) UK Chapter, who visited me in my office here in Abuja. They said some of their colleagues who would have come to Nigeria for their programme tagged,‘A Week in and For Nigeria’ during the month of July, did not come out of fear of the security situation in Nigeria. However, those who made the trip said they travelled to their hometowns across the country and returned to Abuja safely. If Nigerians in the diaspora can be afraid to come to their country, imagine how foreigners, including investors and tourists, will feel about coming to the country.
“Whatever image problem Nigeria is suffering from today is mostly due to the unflattering portrayal of the country by the country’s media.
“Even when some media organisations report fake news, they never have the decency to retract such stories and apologise. They simply move on as if nothing has happened.
“We are not saying the media should not report on the security challenges we face. All we are saying is: Be fair and report accurately the efforts being made by the state and federal governments to tackle the challenges. Even if you don’t want to encourage the men and women in uniform fighting to keep us safe, please don’t discourage them with negative reporting. The security challenges we face today will be successfully tackled and Nigeria will not cease to exist, despite the antics of naysayers”, Mohammed added.
Mohammed congratulated the family, friends and associates of the late Maida for the great and much-deserved honour done to him.
He commended the management and staff of the NAN for coming up with the idea to immortalise the late Maida.
“The Federal Government’s decision to approve the proposal was not difficult, upon realising the role played by Alhaji Wada in making NAN the respectable agency that it is today. A man who was everything from Zonal Editor to Foreign Correspondent to Editor-in-Chief to Managing Director to Board Chairman, a man who built this glistening NAN headquarters edifice deserves to be immortalised by the organisation he served so well in his lifetime”, Mohammed stated.
Mohammed prayed that God will continue to comfort and strengthen the family of Maida, even as he prayed that the soul of the departed continues to rest in peace.
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