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66 Convicted Soldiers File N1.320bn Suit Against FG

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Sixty-six convicted soldiers have filed a suit at a Federal High Court, Lagos challenging their continued detention in the custody of the Ikoyi and Kirikiri Maximum Correctional Centres, Lagos.
They are asking the court for an order directing the respondents, the Minister of Internal Affairs and Comptroller, Nigeria Correctional Services, Lagos to pay them a cumulative sum of N1.320billion for violation of their fundamental rights to personal liberty and freedom from discrimination of their persons.
In the fundamental rights enforcement suit filed by their counsel, Mrs. Funmi Falana, the applicants are asking the court for a declaration that their continued detention at the correctional centres, despite the amnesty granted them by President Muhammadu Buhari since April 9, 2020, is illegal and unconstitutional and violates their rights to personal liberty guaranteed by section 35 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As Amended) and Article 6 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (CAP A10) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
They are, therefore, seeking a declaration that their continued detention at the custody the correctional centre, in Ikoyi and Apapa also violates their right to freedom from discrimination guaranteed by Section 42 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as Amended) and Articles 2 and 6 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (CAP A10) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
Other reliefs sought by the applicants are for an order directing the respondents to release them from the custody of Ikoyi and Kirikiri Correctional Centres, forthwith in compliance with the Presidential Amnesty granted on April 9, 2020, by President Muhammadu Buhari of the Federal Republic of Nigeria pursuant to Prerogative of Mercy under Section 175 of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).
They also asked the court for an order directing the respondents to pay to the applicants a total sum of N20million each being compensation for the violation of their Fundamental Rights to Personal Liberty and Freedom from Discrimination of their persons.
The applicants based their request for reliefs on nine grounds.
They contended that the refusal of the respondents to permit the immediate release the applicants based on the Presidential Amnesty granted recently by President Buhari pursuant to Prerogative of Mercy under Section 175 of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and the continued detention of the Applicants is illegal and unconstitutional as they violate the Applicants’ right to their Personal Liberty guaranteed by section 35 of the 1999 Constitution and Article 6 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights Act.
They also contended that the refusal of the respondents to release the applicants along with the 2,600 who met the terms of the Presidential Amnesty granted recently by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria pursuant to Prerogative of Mercy under Section 175 of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As Amended) along is discriminatory, illegal and unconstitutional as it violates the Applicants’ right to Freedom from Discrimination and Article 2 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights Act.
They argued that the respondents ought to release the applicants from prison custody forthwith in accordance with the terms of the aforesaid Presidential amnesty.
They further argued that having been in custody for 67 months out of the prison term of 80 months, they have spent more than 75% of their 10-year imprisonment.
Alternatively, they said since they are due to be released next year, they have less than three years to complete their 10-year term of imprisonment.
They are therefore qualified for the Presidential amnesty having served a substantial term of their sentence.
They said one of the convicted soldiers; Cpl. Stephen Clement was released from prison custody on April 28, 2020 on the ground that he had spent more than 75 percent of his 10-year prison term in line with the terms of the Presidential Amnesty of April 9, 2020.
In the affidavit in support of their application, they averred that they were charged and tried alongside other eleven soldiers before a General Court-Martial on a six-count charge of committing mutiny, criminal conspiracy to commit mutiny, attempted murder, disobedience to particular orders, insubordinate behaviour and false accusation contrary to and punishable under the Armed Force Act (Cap A20) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
They said at the end of the trial, they were convicted and sentenced to death in a judgment delivered sometime in September, 2014.
They averred that following a review of their case, the confirming authority upheld the conviction but commuted the death sentence to 10 years imprisonment. Since the Applicants are entitled to remission of the 10-year jail term, they are required to spend a total of 80 months in prison custody. From September, 2014 to June, 2020, they have spent over 67 months in custody.
They averred that in exercise of the powers of Prerogative of Mercy under Section 175 of the Constitution, President Buhari granted amnesty to certain categories of convicted inmates including those who have spent 75 percent of their sentence after remission as well as inmates who have less than three years term left to serve having served a substantial term of their service for offences that attract five years and above.
They claimed that having been in custody for 67 months out of the prison term of 80 months, they have spent more than 75 per cent of their 10-year imprisonment and that they have less than three years to complete their 10-year term of imprisonment as they are due to be released from custody next year.

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Ogoni Youths Give FG 14 Days To Fix East-West Road

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No fewer than 400 youths under the aegis of Ogoni Youth Federation (OYF), yesterday, staged a peaceful protest at the Eleme axis of the East-West Road, giving the Federal Government 14 days ultimatum to mobilize to site and fix the road or have economic activities in the area grounded.
The protesters, who carried various placards with inscriptions to press home their demands, trekked from Akpajo Junction to Refinery Junction in Eleme LGA, chanting solidarity songs to register their discontent over the neglect of the road.
Addressing newsmen during the protest, President General of the Ogoni Youth Federation, Comrade Legborsi Yaamabana, said it was regrettable that the road, which was a major route to the economic hub of the nation, has remained in a deplorable state, only becoming a death trap that has terminated the lives of innocent Ogonis.
Yaamabana, who described the mass action of the youths as a ‘warning protest’, said if the contractors handling the road were not immediately mobilized to site, then, the youths will have no option than to shut down all economic activities in the area.
He said, “we cannot continue to watch our people being killed on daily basis by tankers because of the poor state of Eleme axis of the east west road, we are calling on the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency fix the road and save our people from untimely deaths as a result of the sorry state of the road, the only bridge on the road at Aleto has collapse but nothing is being done to avert the disasters faced by our people daily”.
Yaamabana also called on the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio to constitute a substantive board for the Niger Delta Development Commission to address the development needs of the Niger Delta region, noting that the use of interim management for NDDC was “diversionary, self serving and not in the interest of the development of the Niger Delta region”.
The OYF president general also called on the Federal Government to exonerate Ken Saro-Wiwa and his compatriots who were extra-judicially murdered by the late Gen Sani Abacha military junta, and given post-humours honour as martyrs of democracy in Nigeria, while the ideals of justice they stood for should be upheld.
Also speaking, the immediate past secretary of the Ijaw Youth Council, Eastern Zone, Comrade James Tobin, who joined the protest in solidarity, decried the neglect of the East—West Road by the Federal Government, and called the immediate fixing of the road to save the teeming road users from untold pains and death.

By: Taneh Beemene

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Rising Prices Push 7m Nigerians Below Poverty Line -World Bank

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The World Bank has said that rising prices pushed about seven million Nigerians below the poverty line in 2020.
This was contained in a press statement titled, ‘Critical reforms needed to reduce inflation and accelerate the recovery, says new World Bank report,’ released by the World Bank’s Senior External Affairs Officer of Nigeria, Mansir Nasir.
The press statement was released, yesterday, in line with the latest World Bank Nigeria Development Update.
It was acknowledged that the Federal Government “took measures to protect the economy against a much deeper recession” but it was recommended that certain policies should be set for a strong recovery.”
The statement read, “The NDU, titled ‘Resilience through Reforms,’ notes that in 2020, the Nigerian economy experienced a shallower contraction of -1.8 per cent than had been projected at the beginning of the pandemic (-3.2 per cent). Although the economy started to grow again, prices are increasing rapidly, severely impacting Nigerian households.
“As of April, 2021, the inflation rate was the highest in four years. Food prices accounted for over 60% of the total increase in inflation. Rising prices have pushed an estimated seven million Nigerians below the poverty line in 2020 alone.”
Quoted in the statement, the World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri, identified some of the challenges faced by the country and recommended a way forward.
“Nigeria faces interlinked challenges in relation to inflation, limited job opportunities, and insecurity.
“While the government has made efforts to reduce the effect of these by advancing long-delayed policy reforms, it is clear that these reforms will have to be sustained and deepened for Nigeria to realise its development potential,” Chaudhuri said.
Also quoted is the World Bank Lead Economist for Nigeria and co-author of the NDU, Marco Hernandez, who also gave a recommendation.
“Given the urgency to reduce inflation amidst the pandemic, a policy consensus and expedite reform implementation on exchange-rate management, monetary policy, trade policy, fiscal policy, and social protection would help save lives, protect livelihoods, and ensure a faster and sustained recovery,” Hernandez said.

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Inflation Dips To 17.93% In May, NBS Confirms

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Nigeria’s inflation rate dropped to 17.93 per cent in May, 2021, from 18.12 per cent recorded in April, 2021.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) revealed this in its monthly Consumer Price Index report released, yesterday.
The drop in the headline inflation in May was the second consecutive month this year.
The report indicates that the consumer price index (CPI), which measures the inflation rate increased by 17.93 per cent (year-on-year) in May, 2021, which is 0.19 per cent points lower than the rate recorded in the preceding month.
According to NBS, food inflation dropped in the same month from 22.78 per cent recorded in April, 2021 to 22.28 per cent in May, 2021.
The report reads, ‘‘All items less farm produce which excludes the prices of volatile agricultural produce stood at 13.15 per cent in May, 2021, up by 0.41 per cent when compared with 12.74 per cent recorded in April, 2021.
‘‘The highest increases were recorded in prices of pharmaceutical products, garments, shoes and other footwear, hairdressing salons and personal grooming establishments, furniture and furnishing, carpet and other floor covering.
‘‘Others include, motor cars, Hospital services, fuels and lubricants for personal transport equipment, cleaning, repair and hire of clothing.
“Other services include personal transport equipment, gas, household textile, and non-durable household goods,” the NBS added.

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