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Hate Speech: Rights Group Drags FG To ECOWAS Court

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The Expression Now Human Rights Initiative (ENHRI) has filed a suit against the Nigerian Government before the ECOWAS Court over the provisions and enforcement of hate speech in the Nigerian Broadcasting Code 6th Edition and its amendments.
The suit marked ECW/CCJ/APP/, was filed through the Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO)s’ counsel, Solomon Okedara.
Okedara, in the suit, argued that “while the focus of many Nigerians is on the N5million, fine which the NBC Code (6th Edition) imposes in its Amendments, the Code even imposes other far-reaching penalties.
“For example Article 15.2.1 of the Code provides for sanctions such as ‘Immediate order of suspension of broadcast services, Suspension of license and immediate shutdown/seal up of transmitter; and Revocation of license, seizure and forfeiture of transmitting equipment”.
The counsel contended that while the N5million fine is “disproportionate and unjustifiable, penalties like ‘suspension of broadcast services, suspension of license, shut down/seal up of transmitter’ are excessive and disproportionate and can have far more damaging effect on free speech”.
Okedara further argued that the definition of ‘Hate Speech’ as given in the Code is ‘vague, ambiguous and overbroad.’
He also noted that the Code criminalises “offensive reference” and wondered if the drafters of the code realised that making “offensive reference” is integral to free speech and important to open, diverse and heterogeneous society.
The Applicant prayed the court for the following reliefs (i) “A Declaration that the provisions of Articles 3.1.1, 3.1.2, 15.2.1 of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code (6th Edition) and Article 15.5.1 of the Amendments to the Nigeria Broadcasting Code (6th Edition) are in violation of Article 9(1) and (2) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Article 66 (2) (c) of the revised ECOWAS treaty.

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FG Adopts Innovative Approach To Fund Climate Change Mitigation

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The Federal Government has adopted innovative approach, including carbon tax, to fund the mitigation of the impact of climate change in the country.
The Director-General, National Council on Climate Change, Dr SalisuDahiru, disclosed this to newsmen in Lagos.
Dahiru spoke on the sidelines of a technical workshop on Agro Climate Resilience in Semi-Arid Landscapes (ACReSAL) project, yesterday.
Dahiru said that President MuhammaduBuhari, in creating the council, adopted an innovative approach because the council was going to be the main vehicle that would drive his climate change policy and agenda.
“So, he decided to adopt an innovative approach that will provide sufficient funding and in a timely manner.
“This is to ensure that the council is able to operate, function and discharge responsibilities with little hindrance.
“So, two things are associated with the funding; the major funding source will be the budget.
“But within the Act establishing the council, there is going to be the introduction of Carbon Tax,” Dahiru said.
The DG said that carbon tax was done all over the world because of the grave existential threat of climate change.
“If we do not deal with climate change, climate change will deal with all of us.
“So, this carbon tax will have to come in because that’s the only way that we can clean up our environment and refresh the air,” Dahiru said.
He said that there would be the establishment of a climate change fund, where the government, the private sector and development partners would make contributions.
Dahiru said that another way the council hoped to raise fund was through the establishment of a Redd Plus registry.
“We can demonstrate through the Redd Plus programme, which is called reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.
“If we show that we are no longer cutting down the forests, that we are conserving the forest, then, we will be eligible to be paid carbon credits.
“This is calculated based on how much emissions we have prevented from going to the atmosphere as a result of conserving the forest that will also be fed into the funding of the activities of the council.
“And then we will also have this support from the International Organisation for Climate Change.
He said “we are able to do clean projects; projects that will add to our ability to fulfill our obligations under the nationally determined contributions to climate change mitigation in the world”.
“Then development partners under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will provide additional support to the country,” Dahiru said.

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Nigeria Losses 400,000 Barrels Daily To Oil Theft, FG Laments

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The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, has affirmed that the country loses 400,000 barrels of crude daily via oil theft.
Sylva stated this when he paid a courtesy visit to the Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodinma, at the Government House, Owerri.
He described the development as a “national emergency”.
Sylva regretted that the nation had fallen short of OPEC daily quota, from 1.8million barrels to 1.4million barrels, due to crude theft.
The minister warned that such a huge economic loss was capable of crippling the nation’s economy if not given the seriousness it deserved.
He expressed concern that the menace had persisted, in spite of the efforts by the federal and state governments to arrest it.
Sylva said the problem of crude theft could not be handled in Abuja alone.
“It is a national emergency because the theft has grown wings and reached a very bad crescendo.
“This is because the thefts are taking place in the communities that host the oil pipelines.
“As a result, it has become necessary to involve the stakeholders, especially the host communities.
“And because of the height and orchestrated nature of the menace, Nigeria could not take the advantage and opportunities that abound in the gas production.
“This is because no investor would want to invest where there is incessant insecurity and vandalism of the infrastructure,” he said.
The minister, therefore, appealed to the stakeholders to collaborate to solve the problem.

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We’ve Disbursed N100bn To Pharmaceutical Manufacturers, Buhari Boasts

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President Muhammadu Buhari has said that the Federal Government has disbursed a total of N100billion to indigenous pharmaceutical manufacturers and healthcare investors as loans to expand their capital base and boost local production of medicines and medical consumables.
Buhari said this, yesterday, while receiving the new executive members of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
The president said the loan was extended through the Central Bank of Nigeria’s support to the private pharmaceutical sector.
He added that the Health Sector Reform Committee chaired by Vice-President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, was currently exploring models for revitalising the nation’s healthcare system, in ways that improve quality of care and the benefit package to care providers.
On brain drain in the health sector, the president said he has directed the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, to look into ways of turning “brain drain” to “brain gain” by engaging top Nigerian medical experts in the Diaspora in knowledge and skills repatriation.
He urged the NMA and other stakeholders in the health sector to support initiatives by the Federal Government and work with the committees set up to chart a fast track to a health system that best meets the needs of Nigerians in the 21st Century.
The president also commended the association, which is the umbrella body of all medical practitioners in Nigeria, for consistently choosing peaceful resolution of differences on matters pertinent to the National health system.
“I commend our medical professionals for their contribution to Nigeria’s exemplary management of the COVID-19 pandemic, the control of malaria, HIV and Tuberculosis, and other feats also achieved by Nigerian doctors in the Diaspora.
“Our response to COVID-19 pandemic has been praised internationally and your members are key parts of this success.
“I recall that in the last quarter of 2021, the immediate past NMA Executives visited me and presented recommendations for the health sector, which included, the review and amendment of NHIS Act; upgrading and equipping existing health institutions; loans to fund hospital equipment; the repeal and re-enactment of the Medical and Dental Practitioners’ Act; and Appeal for more funding for the four newly established Universities of Medical Sciences.
“I am pleased to inform you that most of these recommendations have been addressed, whilst further action is being taken to study those involving cross-cutting administrative processes with legal implications,” Buhari was quoted as saying in a statement issued, yesterday by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina.
Buhari further congratulated former NMA President, Dr.Osahon Enabulele, on his emergence as the president-elect of the World Medical Association, the first Nigerian to hold the position.
While wishing him a successful tenure, the president expressed hope that Enabulele would use his position to support improvement in health care delivery in Nigeria and lower income countries.üÿ
He also wished the new executive members of NMA a successful tenure, urging them to earnestly continue to serve as arbiters of peace and progress.
The Minister of Health, Dr OsagieEhanire, who led the medical practitioners to the meeting, affirmed that the doctors have been good partners with his ministry, helping to regulate the health profession as well as stressing quality service delivery.
In his remarks, the NMA President, Dr Uche Rowland Ojinmah, said the new National Officers Committee (NOC) was elected on May 21, 2022.
Ojinmah commended Buhari for his “steadfast war against corruption, assent to the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) Act which will improve the health indices of our nation, the constitution of the Health Reform Committee under Vice President YemiOsinbajo, and the various infrastructural projects embarked upon by the Buhari administration.”
He, however, enjoined the president to ensure full and appropriate implementation of the NHIA Act, provision of “adequate work equipment, conducive work environment and necessary budget support”, as well as elongation of the retirement age for medical consultants to 70 years and 65 years for non-consultant doctors and other healthcare workers.
Others include implementation of the hazard allowance circularised in December 2021 with the arrears as well as the setting up of a Health Bank.
The NMA president also requested a representation of the Federal Government at the inauguration of Enabulele in Berlin, Germany, later in the year.

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