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Security Agencies Must Respect Human Rights, AI, Senator Warn

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The Nigerian authorities must adopt a rights-respecting approach and give clear instructions to security agencies not to abuse their powers as the nation tightens its effort to tame the COVID-19 pandemic, a global rights organisation, Amnesty International, has warned.
On March 29, President Muhammadu Buhari announced a 14-day lockdown in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and in Lagos and Ogun states, to curtail the spread of Coronavirus and placed policemen and the military in the frontline of enforcement of the lockdown directive.
However, many Nigerians have been complaining of lack of respect of their human rights by soldiers and policemen on duty across most states in the country.
While reacting to their complaints, the Director of Amnesty International Nigeria, Mrs Osai Ojigho, said, “While acknowledging the size of the challenge and efforts made by authorities to fight COVID-19 across Nigeria, we are also concerned by reports and videos circulating on social media showing violations of human rights, that include beatings by law enforcement agencies tasked with ensuring compliance with the lockdown.
“As the nation observes the 14-day lockdown, the rights of citizens must be respected and protected, including the right to health care, security, and access to sufficient food and water. The lockdown must have a human face; enabling people to have access to vital needs and relief for those who can no longer earn a living since the majority of Nigerians are daily earners and live below poverty line.
“As a matter of urgency, the Nigerian government should implement transparent income support programs targeted at the most vulnerable populations. Millions of Nigerians who live in informal settlements without access to basic services are at higher risk of COVID-19 infection. Government should ensure that the rights to health, food, water and sanitation are realized in such settlements.”
The full statement reads, “The Nigerian authorities must adopt a rights respecting approach and give clear instructions to security agencies not to abuse their powers as the nation tightens its effort to tame the COVID-19 pandemic, which compelled the authorities to impose lockdown and inter-state movement restrictions, Amnesty International said today.
“The national response to COVID-19 must be inclusive, to ensure that prisoners, internally displaced persons and other marginalized and vulnerable communities are not left out at any stages of the fight against the virus.
“While acknowledging the size of the challenge and efforts made by authorities to fight COVID-19 across Nigeria, we are also concerned by reports and videos circulating on social media showing violations of human rights, that include beatings by law enforcement agencies tasked with ensuring compliance with the lockdown,” Director of Amnesty International Nigeria, Osai Ojigho, said.
“As the nation observes the 14-day lockdown, the rights of citizens must be respected and protected, including the right to health care, security, and access to sufficient food and water. The lockdown must have a human face; enabling people to have access to vital needs and relief for those who can no longer earn a living since the majority of Nigerians are daily earners and live below poverty line.
“As a matter of urgency, the Nigerian government should implement transparent income support programs targeted at the most vulnerable populations. Millions of Nigerians who live in informal settlements without access to basic services are at higher risk of COVID-19 infection. Government should ensure that the rights to health, food, water and sanitation are realized in such settlements.

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S’Court’s Affirmation Of Purchase Of OML 11, Kidney Island Excites RSG

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The Supreme Court’s affirmation of Rivers State Government’s acquisition of 45 per cent equity stake in Oil Mining Lease (OML) 11 and Kidney Island in Port Harcourt has brought smiles on the faces of officials of the state government.
The Rivers State Government acquisition of OML 11 and Kidney Island was affirmed by the apex court, last Friday, when it dismissed the Shell Petroleum Development Company’s suit, which sought to set aside the N17billion judgment made against it in 2019.
It would be recalled that the Supreme Court had in January, 2019, upheld the judgment of the Court of Appeal, which awarded N17billion damages against the company for a devastating oil spill that ravaged farmlands, rivers and streams in Ejama-Ebubu in Eleme Local Government Area of Rivers State decades ago.
Shell, which was the operator of OML 11 in Ogoniland, and Kidney Island in Port Harcourt, had in July, 2019, filed a suit at the Supreme Court to set aside its earlier judgment on the ground that the apex court did not go into the merit of their appeal before upholding the decision of the Court of Appeal.
But, the Supreme Court, in a unanimous judgment prepared by Justice Centus Nweze, and delivered by Justice Samuel Oseji, asserted that the appeal filed by Shell was frivolous and lacks merit.
Justice Oseji declared that the Supreme Court cannot revisit its earlier decision on the matter.
To this end, the court dismissed Shell’s appeal for being incompetent and lacking in merit.
In addition, the Supreme Court held that parties were to bear the cost of their litigation.
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, had in September, last year, announced the acquisition of Shell’s 45 per cent interest in OML 11 oilfields and Kidney Island in the state.
The governor had directed the Rivers State Ministry of Finance Incorporated to make a bid of $150,000,0900.00 supported by a Bank Guarantee and cash payment to the Deputy Sheriff in the sum of N1billion, the later payable to the Judgement Creditors while the former is domiciled in an escrow account.
The Ejama community had filed a suit against Shell over un-remediated pollution that took place since 1970 as admitted by SPDC vide letters they wrote seeking to clean-up the spill in 2006 while the case was at the trial court.
The suit between Shell and Ejama-Ebubu community was finally disposed of in 2017.
But, SPDC and its parent companies, took out a further appeal to the Supreme Court of Nigeria in 2017, which appeal was considered and dismissed by that court in a judgment read by Hon. Justice B. Akaahs.
After losing at the High Court, Shell gave the successful Ejama-Ebubu Plaintiffs a Bond Guarantee stipulating that First Bank of Nigeria Limited would pay them the value of the Judgment debt and interests thereon in the event that SPDC’s appeal to the Court of Appeal failed at that court.
Having lost the matter at the Court of Appeal, the Ejama-Ebubu community commenced enforcement by domiciling the judgment in the state High Court, and levying execution on SPDC movables in their Industrial Area in Port Harcourt.
Shell, had invited the community and offered them N7billion as against the judgment debt of N194billion, which the community refused to accept.
Afterwards, the community approached the court for an order granting them leave to sell SPDC’s immovable property comprised in OML 11 and their Kidney Island support base in Port Harcourt.
It was on this basis that the Rivers State Government placed advertisement of the said immovable assets for auction after the Honourable Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice of Rivers State alerted the government of the state of the matter.
Wike, had said that rather than standby and watch other persons or groups purchase Shell’s 45 per cent interest in OML 11, and further exacerbate the poverty of the people of the State, the state government had to weigh in and bid for the purchase of SPDC interest already set down for auction.

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Ndume Apologises To Jonathan Over False Criticisms

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The Senator representing Borno South Senatorial District, Ali Ndume, says he has known the value and landmark the former President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan left in Nigeria and its political landscape after his tenure in office in 2015.
The lawmaker spoke, last Saturday at Apo Legislative Quarters, Abuja, during the grand opening of Dr. PhysiQ Specialist Centre for Wellness and Medical Lifestyle Change, and launching of a book titled: ‘Everything heals” authored by the CEO of the centre, Dr. Susana Adams.
Ndume also stated that his recent detention at Kuje prison and subsequent release from the custody was the will of God, saying that “as God wants it, that I must be here, because I was just released from detention yesterday night (Friday), maybe God wants me to attend this occasion, otherwise, I would have been in Kuje prison up till now.”
Jonathan, who was the chairman of the occasion, later inspected the new Wellness Centre, and was accompanied by the former of Minister of Information, Labaran Maku; the veteran journalist, Eugenia Abu, among other dignitaries.
Speaking before the inspection, Ndume said other people who were sceptical about the ex-president’s behaviour have also realised how great he is, adding that many Nigerians don’t value what they have until they lose it.
His remark is coming a few days after the Chairman of the Caretaker/Extra-Ordinary National Convention Planning Committee of the All Progressives Congress, Mai Mala Buni, and some APC governors visited the ex-president.
“I must confess, as people call me stubborn person, I’m also a stubborn person… I feel I need to make this testimony here, and also appreciate Mr. President, as they say you will never know what you have until you lose it. I will stop there.
“For this country, I think Nigerians know that they don’t value what they have until they lose that thing. We thank God for your life and you have changed the political culture and landscape of this country.
“You don’t know how great you are in the eyes of those that were sceptical, those that don’t know you, those that didn’t come close to you. But now, honestly, I am one of those that used to criticize you very well, but I will say it was constructive move,” the lawmaker said.

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DPO Removed My Two-Month-Old Pregnancy, Woman Tells Rivers #EndSARS Panel

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A female petitioner and buiding material contractor, Mrs Saviour Mercy Ihejiere, has told the Rivers State Commission of Inquiry Investigating Alleged Police Brutality, Tourture, Killing and Human Rights Violations committed by police officers in the state how she lost her two months’ old pregnacy from complications arising from an alleged torture and assault by the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of Eleme Division, Mr Adamu Manaseh Jessi in his office in 2019.
Ihejiere made the allegation when she appeared before the panel to give evidence and defend her petition during the ongoing sitting of the commission at the Obi Wali International Conference Centre in Port Harcourt, over the weekend.
She alleged that the DPO, alongside his orderly, assualted and beat her up when she went to demand her N70,000 debt, being the balance of contract sum owed her by Adamu Maneseh Jessi in 2017.
According to her, she supplied building materials to the DPO in 2017, 2018 and 2019, while the accused was in Okirika Police Division for the construction of the divisional police headquarters, adding that efforts made to get Adamu Maneseh to pay the balance of the money since 2017 have proved abortive as he blocked her mobile calls from gaining access to his lines.
She further told the commission that, prescisely, on October 15, 2020, a friend informed her that the DPO had been transferred to Eleme division through a friend after two years of not having any contact with the accused.
“On that fateful day, I went to see him in his office, and after waiting for several hours, one of the admin officers asked me to enter the DPO’s Office, which I did.
“On sighting me in his office, his countenances changed, and he became furious, and wanted to know who permitted me into his office.
“Immediately, he summoned all the personnel working in the admin to know who brought me in, and after that, he ordered two female officers, including his orderly, to push me out of his office, which I ressisted, and insisted that I must collect my money before leaving.
“It was at this point that he got up from his chair, and told his ordely to go and bring his teargas”.
The female witness and mother of two, told the panel that after beating her, the DPO seized her phone and teargased her in the office, adding that she screamed and was wailing, shouting and was then taken out to be detained without any access to her family members.
She explained that her screaming attracted many officers into the DPO’s office, adding that the DPO, on seeing the seriousness of the situation, informed the Area Commander in Eleme, ACP Yaya Hassan, who invited her, alongside the DPO to his office.
Ihejiere added that the area commander, after listening to explanations from both sides, blamed the DPO for his conduct, and ordered him to pay the balance sum of N70,000 owed to her.
“Later, my husband and brothers came to the Area Command’s Office in Eleme, and rushed me to a hospital in Okrika, where I was admitted, and after some days, I lost the pregnancy as a result of the teargas, and merciless beating.
“I had earlier told the DPO that I was pregnant, and that he should pay me my money so that I can take care of my pregnancy”, she stated.
Ihejiere, however, demanded the sum of N3million as compensation to carter for the expenses the family incurred during her ordeal, just as she also that the DPO should be made to face justice for misconduct and apologise to his husband and her family members.
The Presiding Chairman of the commission, Justice Chukwunoye Uriri (rtd), relying on the rules of the panel, adjourned the matter to December 9, 2020, for continuation and cross-examination of the witness by the police.

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