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Uniport Killings: Metaphor For A Debased Life



Biringa Chiadika Lordson, a Theatre Arts student, Ugonna
Kelechi Obusor, a Geology undergraduate, Mike Lloyd Toku, a Civil Engineering
student, all year two students of the University of Port Harcourt, and Tekena
Elkanah, a Certificate in Education student of the same university, knew pretty
well that death was certain for all mortals. But what they did not know was
that their time had come. On Friday, 5th October 2012, the four youths were
brutally cut down by a mob at Omuokiri, Aluu, a community adjoining the
University of Port Harcourt.

The incident attracted wild outrage and shock given how the
students were crudely debased, thoroughly beaten and eventually hacked to death
by gleeful villagers who accused them of stealing a laptop computer and a

However, soon after the killing, pictures and videos of
which were widely publicized on the internet, various versions of the story on
the cause of the unfortunate incident emerged.

One account had it that the deceased students were cultists
who actually went on a failed mission to kill. Another version of the story
stated that one of the victims, who was accompanied by his slain colleagues,
went to demand a debt owed him by a friend in the community. And somehow, in
the course of demanding the money, an argument ensued and the debtor raised
alarm referring to them as thieves and alerting the indigenes of the community
to come to his rescue.

Unfortunately, the incident coincided with a sad state of
insecurity in the community. Consequently, the boys were rounded up and taken
to the chiefs who gave them a summary trial and ordered their execution against
their plea of innocence. They were then stripped, paraded as robbers, beaten to
stupor with all manner of instruments and burnt alive later, even when there was
no clear evidence of stealing established against them.

The Rivers State Government reacted promptly to the
killings. Speaking in a pensive mood on behalf of the  government, the state Commissioner for
Information and Communication, Mrs Ibim Semenitari, declared that the state
governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi, found the incident unacceptable and
reprehensible. She said the government was alarmed at the gruesome killings and
had ordered a full investigation into the incident.

“This crime will not go unpunished,  she said, and added that the traditional
ruler of the killer-community, Alhaji Hassan Welewa, who allegedly ordered the
killings, and other suspects, had been arrested by the police for

Apparently touched by the killing of his students, the
Vice-Chancellor of the University of Port Harcourt, Prof. Joseph Ajienka,
called on law enforcement agents to unravel the circumstances surrounding the
incident. He declared that no one had the right to take life.

“We condemn all forms of criminality. The authority of the
University of Port Harcourt wish to state here in unequivocal terms that nobody
has the right to engage in extra-judicial killing or resort to self-help no
matter the level of provocation,” the VC stated.

He announced the suspension of the students’ week billed to
commence on October 8, 2012. He also said flags were currently flown at half
mast in honour of the students. According to him, security had been beefed up
within and outside the campus to forestall breakdown of law and order.

Smarting from the devastating effect of his son’s murder,
Mr. Toku Mike, an Assistant Director, Programmes. Radio Rivers, and father of
one of the victims (Lloyd), narrated how he got a distress call that his son
was being beaten up by a mob.

“On Friday morning at about 7am, we got a distress call that
our son was being beaten up alongside three of his friends. So we quickly
rushed down. Initially, it was very difficult for us to locate the place. By
the time we got there, we saw a huge crowd with a few Joint Task Force members
there. I moved close to the four corpses on ground and I discovered that one of
them was my son. We were also able to identify the other three boys as his
friends. We took the corpses to the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital
(UPTH) to ascertain whether they were still alive. A doctor came out, examined
them and said they were all dead. My son has never stolen before,” Toku
explained amid tears.

He called on the government to punish the killers of his

“All I want is for justice to be done. That’s all. Whoever
carried out that dastardly act should be brought to book. That is all I want. I
have not got that assurance. No one has talked to us yet.”

Toku berated the police for not doing enough to avert the
ugly situation. He, however, acknowledged the presence of the police at the
scene, but claimed he was told by a policeman that the crowd numbering about
3,000 people, over-powered the police. He said it was  unusual for the police to abandon the mob
without being able to save the situation.

The public Relations Officer of the State Police Command,
Mr. Ben Ugwuegbulam confirmed the incident, but debunked claims that the police
were over-powered and fled the scene, but met the boys already dead. He
dismissed the allegation and described it as spurious.

The African Representative to the World Assembly of Youth,
Mr. Marvin Yobanna, disagreed with the police image-maker and blamed members of
the force for their slow response while the lynching of the students was going
on. He called for the sack of the Divisional Police Officer of the area and the
security officer attached to the university.

Mrs Jane Toku Mike, mother of one of the martyrs, also
expressed shock that the crowd could watch her son and his friends bizarrely
murdered. Jane spoke with The Tide and said:

“When we got there, one of them was still breathing. He was
gasping for breath, but the crowd were all there watching while my son (Lloyd)
was butchered.”

Continuing, Jane said:

“I went to Salvation Ministry with my son on Sunday and we
came back. He then gave me a book; ‘How Faith Works’ by David Ibiyeomie, and he
said ‘mummy read this book and you will understand what faith is all about.
When I return on Friday you will tell me what faith is all about.’

“I went to that scene and saw the lifeless body of my son on
the internet, his burnt body, his butchered body, his tattered body. Oh God,
what did my son do? Justice! Justice! Justice! Oh Jesus, my first son, my first
son, Jesus.”

Also, Mr. Messiah Obuzor, who lost his only son (Ugonna) to
the Aluu killing, spoke to The Tide with rage and outburst on the killing of
the boy. He said he was informed about the killing by an unknown person, who
invited him to the emergency ward of the University of Port Harcourt Teaching
Hospital (UPTH). He got there, according to him, and saw the lifeless body of
his son.

“I saw him butchered and burnt. I touched the body of my
son, the boy I have actually taken time to raise because I lost the mother in
2005. Since then I am their mother, I am their father. I did everything for
them. I went to the market and cooked for them. My son is not a thief. He has
never stolen from me. He is not a cult boy.

“Somebody decided to kill him. While I was crying in the
mortuary, I was told that the chief of the community ordered that he should be
killed. Let the chief tell the world what the boy did,” Obuzor lamented.

A sociology lecturer at the University of Port Harcourt, Dr.
Sofri Peterside, related what happened at Aluu to the total breakdown of norms
and values in the area. He described the bestial act as un African and berated
some Uniport students for watching the torture and killing of their own

“What has happened is that the Aluu community has
demonstrated that there is a total collapse of norms and values in this area.
Because even within the African tradition, our people have a very high regard
for life. But what we have seen in this incident has brought to the public a
total collapse of norms and values.

“You need to shout when you see this kind of thing happen
and not just swallow everything hook, line and sinker and only filming. In this
age of information technology, you can stand and send information across the
world,” Peterside stated.

Meanwhile, the senate also joined in the widespread
condemnation of the killings. The strong reprobation came against the backdrop
of the incessant killings on campus particularly the recent massacre of over 40
students in Adamawa and Borno States and now the Uniport slaughter.

The upper legislative chamber of the National Assembly
passed a resolution asking the police and security agencies to fish out the
perpetrators of the  crime including the
spectators captured in the video making the rounds and prosecute them

Against his earlier position on state police, the Senate
President, David Mark, moved by the killings, stunned everyone, and called for
its introduction to check the worsening insecurity in the country.


Arnold Alalibo

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Gender Equality And Path To Sustainable Development Goals



Disparities between women and men with regards to access to and control of economic resources and political power constitute a hindrance to bridging gender equality gaps.
As the gender variable enters the sustainable development equation, attention is now drawn to creating a better understanding of the role of gender equality and equity in poverty alleviation and achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
It is pertinent to advance that gender equality agitation does not ignore the biological differences between men and women especially as regards reproductive roles.
Rather, it helps to appreciate the uniqueness of each gender group and the importance of bringing the different needs and priorities of both women and men into development plans.
According to the Gender Snapshot 2022 Report by UN women and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), at the current rate it will take close to 300 years to achieve full gender equality, one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The report further reveals how gender disparities are worsening due to COVID-19 pandemic, violence, climate change and backlash against women’s sexual and reproductive health rights.
It said these factors will make it difficult for many countries to meet SDG number 5 by 2030 deadline. SDG number 5 seeks to achieve gender equity and empowerment of women and girls.
The report highlighted the need for cooperation, partnership and investment to put the world back on track towards achieving the goal.
“Without swift action, legal systems that do not ban violence against women, or protect their rights in marriage and family, may continue to exist for generations to come”, it said.
Some stakeholders have advocated increased gender response in budgeting to promote awareness, equity and equality as part of the measures to close the widening gaps.
They said there is the need to ensure that women and men are free to develop their full potential and are able to make choices without restrictive gender roles.
Mrs Felicia Onibun, National Coordinator, 100 Women Lobby Group, at a workshop on Gender Responsive Budgeting Framework in Abuja, highlighted the need for a gender budgeting that is inclusive and captures women, Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) and all vulnerable people.
“Budgeting for gender response is important because women’s needs are different from men’s need. What a woman needs to achieve her goal is different from what a man needs”, she said.
Similarly Mrs Tayo Erinle, Executive Director, Talitha Cumi Foundation, said increased gender budgeting and budget performance will address discrimination, bias and other forms of violence against women and children.
Therefore, women and men’s need and interests are to be equally valued and protected if any nation is to achieve sustainable development.
Countries with wide gender gaps are found to exhibit poor indicators of growth like poor nutrition, high maternal and infant mortality rates, poverty, low life expectancy, low level of education and high prevalence of HIV/AIDS.
A major concern in many African countries is the continued low representation of women at all levels of governance and economic negotiations, especially at grassroots level.
A gender activist, Chinonso Okechukwu, at a recent media forum in Lagos said this anomaly must be addressed for any meaningful development to take place.
Okechukwu, the Focal Person of Nigerian Feminist Forum (NFF), decried the low female representation and participation in the public service and politics in Nigeria.
According to her the national average of women’s political participation has remained at 6.7 per cent in elective and appointive positions, a figure she said was not good enough
Women and men’s voices must be heard in all areas of development, including climate change, poverty and drafting of strategies and programmes for sustainable development.
Experts say governance must be gender-sensitive for it to be equitable, sustainable and effective.
Prof. Joy Ezeilo, the Founder of Women of Aid Collective (WACOL), an NGO, also frowns at the dismal participation of women in politics, saying many of them have continued to be disenfranchised.
“And there is no way we can make claims to sustainable development without full participation of women in governance and indeed in all sectors including economy,’’ she was quoted by the media as saying.
According to her because of the ‘mercantile politics‘ practiced in Nigeria most women cannot afford to venture into politics and be part of decision making and implementation processes.
“Sometimes women economic status also affects their political careers,’’ she said.

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The Church And A New Hope For Nigeria



When a famous French statesman and writer,Alexis de Tocqueville,visited the United States of America not too long after its revolutionary independence from the colonial English power, he discovered a pleasant serenity that was present all over the vast land. He said he sought the answer everywhere, schools, offices, government institutions etc. After a diligent search, he got nowhere near resolving the puzzle.
Finally, the European wrote: ‘’I sought for the greatness of the United States in her commodious harbours, her ample rivers, her fertile fields and boundless forests and it was not there. I sought for it in her rich higher learning and it was not there. I looked for it in her democratic congress and her matchless constitution and it was not there. Not until I went to the Churches of America did I understand the secret of her genius and power.’’ Tocqueville said the prosperity of the United States at the time of his trip in the first half of the 19thCentury was due to the reliance of the citizens and their leaders on the messages of their Church leaders.
He was not speaking of a US version of Christian theocracy. He was simply saying that although the Americans ran a secular system with human beings and their business, administrative, educational and economic organs fully in place, they still allowed room for the messengers of God to guide them. In other words, the people were not overwhelmed and distracted by physical pursuits to satisfy physical needs. They sought the balance commanded by Jesus Christ: man must not live by bread alone, but by every word that flows from God.
Man is in grave danger if he dwells on materialism to the utter neglect of the spiritual. This is the point repeatedly made by Pastor William FolorunsoKumuyi, the General Superintendent (GS) of Deeper Christian Life Ministry, DCLM, as he mounts the rostrum to preach at his now well-received world-wide revival programmes called Global Crusade with Kumuyi, GCK. Being an unrepentant servant of Heaven determined to heed the call of God to preach only the truth that frees man from bondage, Kumuyi has been noted to do just that over the decades.
So, when in October 2021, Kumuyi’s GCK train arrived in Port Harcourt, capital of Nigeria’s South-South Rivers State, no one doubted that he brought a message amounting to a full-orbed teaching to humanity. Like the Frenchman Tocqueville, Kumuyi showed that true and lasting prosperity goes beyond material wealth and riches, plenty of which Rivers State, through its oil resources could boast of. But the point is not to trust in the gift of this abundance. Instead, the Lord wants man to honour the Giver of these riches more. That, according to Kumuyi, is the non-negotiable demand from Heaven to trigger more blessings.
So, coming with the theme, Showers of Blessingsthrough Christ, the cleric said that all humanity was truly promised the goodness of their Creator. Starting with God’s famous proclamation in the Bible in Ezekiel 34:26 where He prophesizes ‘’showers of blessing’’, Kumuyi said man should go deeper than thinking of these showers only in terms of material possessions. He spoke of a transcendent possession, namely salvation of the soul, which, according to him, opens up fuller and more meaningful relationship with Heaven, the headquarters and home of all good and lasting riches.
In effect, the revered evangelist was taking his audience back to the spiritual grundnorm enunciated by Jesus Christ in Matthew 6:33: Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
This is the message the whole materialistic world needs. But let’s start with Port Harcourt, capital of wealthy oil-soaked Rivers State. Its people must not be spiritually complacent, feeling self-sufficient, not conscious of a missing factor, because they have some showers of blessings already. Pastor Kumuyi said he brought the crusade to Port Harcourt to open the eyes of the people to see more depths of blessings. He told them that without first embracing Jesus as their Lord and Saviour, they would not only lose those blessings, but also they would be bereaved of joy here in the world and in the life after death. Kumuyi said “all humanity comprising all races, tribes and peoples have sinned and stand condemned before God,’’ no matter the level of their prosperity. The General Superintendent of Deeper Christian Life Ministry said the only solution is Christ’s Salvation, not a rat race for more riches or acquisition of property.
This applies to a world ensnared in the fever of explosive scientific and technological inventions and discoveries. Of course, all these are leading man to an unprecedented age of material blessings, threatening to ostracize God altogether from his world. This, argues Kumuyi, is the path of destruction, self-immolation. He called on the people to step away from the tip overlooking the consuming valley.What will follow such a wise decision to renounce worldliness and opt for the counsel of God?
Kumuyi said man will be positioned for unspeakable bliss as he settles for Christ. He proved this at the Port Harcourt crusade as he led thousands of sinners to salvation. Thereafter, following breakthrough prayers byKumuyi, God brought down miracles, healings, deliverances and signs with wonders to the people.
A man afflicted with prostate enlargement and high blood pressure was delivered. Another who was a member of a cultic society said after Pastor appeared to him in a dream he was saved from the demonic affiliation. There was the case of one who was freed from the unbearable pain after 13 years’ dislocation of his right arm. There was also the great miracle of a woman who was born with two navels. She lived with that condition for 21 years, until Kumuyi prayed and one of the navels disappeared. Incredible!
Pastor Kumuyi says the lesson from all these supernatural miracles from Heaven is that there is hope for lost man with room for more blessings than the relatively meagre showers we are celebrating at the moment. But first, he pleads, we must forsake the waywardness that separates us from God and prevents us from enjoying Him full length.
That is how Nigeria and its people can also be delivered from the challenges besetting us, the same way the United States of America was in the first half of the 19th Century.

By: Israel Mkpaoro
Dr. Mkpaoro is the Coordinator of the International Friendship League (IFL), Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

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Hostilities And Seamless Democratic Transition (II)



This is the concluding part of the above headline featured on wednesday, January 18, 2023.

According to reports, “the attack was likened to warfare with booming explosive devices and a massive exchange of gunfire between the hoodlums and security agencies, came on a day the INEC started the distribution of Permanent Voters Cards, PVCs, to people, who registered, recently. “The INEC raised the alarm over what it described as systematic and targeted attacks on its facilities nationwide, ahead of the 2023 general elections. “A policeman was killed in the attack, while another suffered a severe injury in the gun duel during the gunmen’s attack at the Imo State Headquarters of the INEC, Port Harcourt Road, Owerri. “This brings to three, the number of INEC offices in the state, attacked by the hoodlums since December I, 2022. The incident followed the earlier attacks on INEC’s Orlu LGA office on December 1, 2022, and the Oru West LGA office on December 4, 2022.
“Part of the INEC office was razed by the hoodlums, who used IEDs to completely burn the Election and Party Monitoring, EPM, building”. Addressing newsmen at the State Police Command’s Headquarters, Owerri, where the lifeless bodies of the hoodlums were displayed, the Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Mr. Michael Abattam, said: “The gunmen killed one policeman and injured another one in the gun duel that lasted for about an hour. “Five riffles, two vehicles, charms, locally made bombs, phones and money were recovered from the slain gunmen.” Governor Uzodimma, of Imo State who visited the scene blamed desperate politicians for the attack, saying that security would be adequately provided for the INEC for the distribution of the PVCs in the state. Uzodimma said: “You can see why INEC is the target
I have continuously said that what is happening in Imo State is politically inclined and that they want to make Imo State ungovernable and ensure there will be no election in Imo State. “However, security agencies are prepared. INEC is prepared and there will be an election in Nigeria. I was told the majority of them who came on this journey are lying critically ill, some are neutralised and others fled with gunshot injuries. The police are ever committed. The other sister agencies are also committed to ensuring security in the state. “My assurance is that we will have a very beautiful environment for Christmas God willing. We urge our people to come out and collect their PVCs, there will be security agencies from the ward, local government areas to the state level. It will be a fruitful exercise.” Bemoaning the attack, Dr. Festus Okoye, INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman of its Information and Voter Education Committee, said: “Our Imo State headquarters is located in the centre of Owerri, between a court and the state secretariat. This is, therefore, yet another systematic attack targeted at the commission’s assets across the country, more so on the day that the collection of PVCs commences nationwide ahead of the 2023 general elections.
The Atiku-Okowa Presidential Campaign Organisation of the, PDP also expressed disappointment over attacks on INEC’s offices and called on Nigerians across party lines to support security services and INEC in their quest to ensure credible elections. Also, the Presidential Campaign Council of the Labour Party described the attacks as part of a larger plot to derail the 2023 general elections. Chief Spokesperson of the LP PCC, Dr. Yunusa Tanko, told Vanguard in a telephone interview that the attacks on INEC offices have been particularly high in the South-East and described the trend as worrisome. Tanko said: “It is worrisome no doubt but we will not be deterred. We see this as an attempt to give the South-East a bad name to give the impression that the people of the area don’t want elections to hold. “This is a lie. We will continue to support INEC an4epher Imumolen said: “The South-East has been agitating for too long because they feel neglected. The South-East has been marginalized and the President must wade in and ensure the region gets what it needs. “I believe that the South-East has been marginalized for too long. Nigeria is at war if we must truly say the truth but we need to unite our people but if we fail to do that, we will be seeing more attacks. “I condemn the burning of INEC officers, especially in the South-East, it is a condemnable act but we must look at the root cause and tackle it.“For us, we believe the security forces will live up to expectations to ensure that things that are needed to curb incidents like that should be totally eradicated.
In December, 2022 another INEC office was attacked in Oru West Local Government Area, three days after another INEC office was attacked in Orlu Local Government Area of Imo State. The Chairman of Information and Voter Education Committee of INEC, Festus Okoye, confirmed the attack in a statement made available to journalists. “The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Imo State, Professor Sylvia Uchenna Agu, has reported that our office in Oru West Local Government Area was attacked at about 4.00am today Sunday 4th December 2022,” Mr Okoye wrote. “The attack affected the Conference Room where office furniture and fittings were destroyed,” he added. “However, other critical facilities were not affected.”Mr Okoye said the latest attack was the seventh on INEC facilities in the last four months. ‘It would be recalled that on Thursday 1st December 2022, our office in Orlu Local Government Area of Imo State was also attacked. Overall, this is the 7th attack on our facilities in five States of the Federation in the last four months.”Mr Okoye expressed concern about the systematic attack on the commission’s facilities across the country as it prepares to conduct the 2023 general elections. “Once again, the Commission expresses its concern on the consequences of what appears to be a systematic attack on its facilities across the country on the conduct of elections in particular and electoral activities in general. The attention of the security agencies has been drawn to this latest incident for investigation and prosecution” Mr Okoye said.
Four months ago, some suspected arsonists razed an INEC office in Igbo-Eze North Local Government Area of Enugu State. Also, two offices of INEC, in May 2021, were set ablaze by gunmen in Ebonyi State. The offices are located at Ezza North and Izzi local government areas of the state. Again, in September 2021, the commission’s office was set ablaze in Awgu Local Government Area office in Enugu State. The attacks on INEC facilities around the South-east and the South-south regions, as well as on security agencies, have been attributed to the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). But the group has repeatedly denied any involvement in the attacks. The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC office in Awgu, Enugu State was also not left out by the suspected hoodlums. It was gathered that the hoodlums carried out the dastard act, burning down a section of office. With combined efforts from security operatives, the fire was brought under control. Reacting to the development, National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education, Festus Okoye revealed that the incident was being investigated. Resident Electoral Commissioner for Enugu State, Mr. Emeka Ononamadu, who reported the attack on the INEC office in Awgu Local Government Area of the State, noted that the section of the building where the electoral materials are kept, was completely burnt down. “Fortunately, all movable election materials were evacuated and there were no casualties”, he said.
Considering the destruction of INEC offices, it is pertinent to say that politicians, their allies and the hoodlums are yet to learn from the past. There is need for politicians to cultivate political maturity in carrying out electioneering campaigns. The cases of attacks and counter attacks are very unnecessary and dents the credibility of a process that will produce national and state leaders. “Politics Without Bitterness” was the political mantra of the founder and presidential candidate of Great Nigeria Peoples Party (GNPP), Alhaji Ibrahim Waziri. It behoves everyone to imbibe this guiding light. All political stakeholders should ensure a smooth transition to another democratic governance. Nigeria needs free, fair, peaceful and credible elections.

By: Igbiki Benibo

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