Human Rights activist and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Chief Mike Ozekhome, has asked the Federal Government to be ready to build more prisons to accommodate “erring” Nigerians who are likely to bypass the ban on Twitter usages.
In a statement made available to newsmen, yesterday in Abuja, Ozekhome also revealed what he described as a new game plan by the Federal Government to arrest the opposition, rights activists, dissenters, plural voices, and perceived enemies to the ban.
He decried the speed with which the government announced the ban without thinking about the economic consequences.
He said, “The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, has just ordered the Director of Public Prosecution of the Federation to immediately prosecute offenders contravening the Federal Government’s ban on twitter operations in Nigeria. Indeed, he wants the DPP to liaise with the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, the National Communications Commission (NCC) and other relevant government agencies to ensure speedy prosecution of offenders without further delay.
“How I wish that Malami’s APC Government, has displayed such alacrity and sense of urgency on the grave insecurity challenges of the country; the parlous economy and the mounting corruption ravaging our land.
“Malami did this with Lai Mohammed apparently being aware that many knowledgeable Nigerians had started to use different Virtual Private Networks (VPN) to clearly bypass the blockage.
“This government must be ready to build thousands of prisons across all the nooks and crannies of Nigeria so as to accommodate the deluge of ‘erring’ Nigerians.
“This government does not appear to have weighed carefully the serious implications of its actions and the likely ricocheting effects. Many Nigerians run global businesses with links and business partners across the world. They carry on business using the social media of Twitter. Secondly, many Nigerians, especially the jobless youth who have been rendered destitute by this thus anti-masses government.
“They rely heavily on legitimate income realized from the platform through advertisement of their products and services and act on behalf of their not so ICT-compliant clients who desire to reach out to the world banning Twitter is akin to what this government did in a kneel-jerk action on coming to power whether thoughtlessly banned Nigerians from operating their domiciliary foreign accounts. The naira has never recovered from this shock treatment.
“Perhaps, more important is that the ban outrightly denies citizens of their individual and collective right to freedom of speech and right to freedom of expression and the press, contrary to section 39 of the Constitution. The cumulative effect of these negative acts is a serious blight on Nigeria’s image both at home and abroad.”
Revealing a conspiracy and game plan to arrest some Nigerians who are eager to resist the ban, Ozekhome recalled that the courts have been under lock and key due to the industrial strike action by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN).
Contrary to his earlier stance, Ozekhome called on JUSUN to call off its strike, noting that the judges whom the workers were fighting for had carried on, delivering judgments.
“In all these, the agitated citizens are eager to go to court (section 6 of the Constitution), to challenge these outrageous infractions of their rights. Then, they suddenly realize that the doors to the courts are firmly shut, and put under lock and key by JUSUN workers. So, they lick their oozing wounds. Meanwhile, the same courts being protected, are busy every day, delivering judgements (physical and virtual), on matters already pending before the JUSUN strike commenced.
“So, who are these workers that prepare the files, take them to Judges and create the enabling environment for such sittings, including fixing the zoom meetings? How and where do they gain access to the courts’ strong rooms, filing cabinets and court processes, to aid the Judges? Just how? I cannot understand. Or, can you?
“I have now changed my views and stance. My new stance is now occasioned by the frequency of series of curious events (some quite frightening), emanating from the government and its operatives in the last two weeks.
“Let us not continue to be used by fifth columnists as pawns in a game of musical chairs. This government will very shortly likely crack down on the opposition rights activists, dissenters, plural voices and perceived enemies. There will be no courts to run to with a view to obtaining any remedy. They are all firmly locked. The JUSUN strike has therefore outlived its usefulness and purpose. JUSUN, call off the strike now”, he said.
In the event the strike is not called off immediately, Ozekhome advised Nigerians to seek redress in regional courts.
“All hope is not lost, even with the JUSUN strike. There is some respite here.
Any Nigerian arrested or detained should immediately proceed to the sub-regional West African Court situate in Abuja. The African Charter on Human and People’s Rights is there to protect the rights of citizens of Nigeria. The Court that operates it (the West African Court) is there right now, fully operational. The last time I checked, we are not in the Hobesian state of nature where life was solitary, nasty, short and brutish”, he said.
Substance Abuse Becoming Thing Of Concern -Odu
Rivers State Deputy Governor, Prof. Ngozi Nma Odu, has lauded the important role pharmacists play in the wellbeing of the society.
Odu gave this commendation while playing host to members of Association of Lady Pharmacists of Nigeria, Rivers State Branch at the Government House in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
The deputy governor said while others are sleeping, pharmacists work hard “to ensure we all live in a better society, especially when you talk about the dangers of substance abuse.”
Odu stressed that, “It is really becoming a thing of great concern because of the level of children getting involved in this thing. It is even coming down to primary schools which now increases the burden of what you are doing, so we appreciate you for what you are doing for the society which we all are living in.”
The deputy governor extolled the lady pharmacists for the scholarship scheme they were sponsoring, noting that it was “amazing because when you change the narrative of somebody’s life, you become what they call a destiny helper.”
The deputy governor added, “So, for me, it is something I would encourage. Even the Bible says when you do it for them you have done unto God. It is a thing we get a lot of blessings out off, you may not see it now but some day it will definitely come.”
She expressed gratitude to them for their support for the Fubara-led administration which according to her has continued to spur them into action.
“Let me thank you for upholding the governor and myself in prayers, because without prayers we won’t be here, many people have prayed and God has heard, please do not stop, even for good governance, we need God to grant us the wisdom and knowledge of what to do”, she said.
In her remarks, Chairman of the Rivers State Branch of Association of Lady Pharmacists of Nigeria, Ebelechukwu Odom, said they were at the Government House to identify with the Governor Fubara-led administration in the ongoing restructuring of the state, and pledged their allegiance and unflinching support to the administration.
She assured that they would utilize the competences of Lady Pharmacists in Rivers State and synergize with partners for improvement in health, education, research development and socio-economic wellbeing of humanity through relevant and appropriate interventions, projects and programmes.
RSG Denies Rumours Of Cholera Outbreak In Soku
The Rivers State Government says it is not aware of any cholera outbreak in Soku community in the Akuku Toru Local Government Area of the State.
This was contained in a statement made available to newsmen in Port Harcourt by the State Ministry of Health.
According to the statement signed by the Commissioner for Health, Dr Adaeze Chidinma Oreh, the clarification was necessary following numerous enquiries from the media over a purported outbreak of cholera in Soku community.
The statement read in part, “The Rivers State Ministry of Health has received numerous enquiries from the Press regarding an alleged outbreak of cholera in Soku community in Akuku Toru Local Government Area.
“Public health teams dispatched to investigate these alleged cases and deaths have so far received no confirmation of such.”
While describing cholera as a waterborne infectious disease, the commissioner said that the disease is notifiable, warranting escalating reports from disease surveillance and notification officers at the community level.
The statement clarified that the ongoing medical outreach in Soku community is in no way related to any outbreak of cholera.
“Outreaches have always been a way of getting accessible health care to underserved and vulnerable population, however, all such outreach activities must be conducted with approval from and in collaboration with the State Ministry of Health and as such no entity should be conducting outreaches outside the coordination of the ministry”, it warned.
The ministry further said that all infectious diseases of this nature are reported, managed and escalated by the Rivers State Ministry of Health.
Dr. Oreh said the statement should serve as a strong warning to anyone conducting or planning health activities without due recourse to the Rivers State Ministry of Health.
She added that any such activities found to be carried out without the knowledge and clearance of the State Ministry of Health will be fully investigated and dealt with in order to ensure the protection of the lives of the people.
“Therefore, the general public and members of the Press are advised to disregard the rumours making the round on an ongoing outbreak of cholera and the death of some citizens of Soku community in Akuku Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State as it is presently unfounded, misguided and capable of causing panic amongst citizens and residents.
“The general public is thus urged to remain calm and rest assured that the Rivers State Ministry of Health will continue to be a veritable source of public health information in the state”, the statement concluded.
Bill On State Police Scales Second Reading
The House of Representatives, yesterday, passed for second reading a bill to provide for the establishment of state police in the country.
Sponsored by the Deputy Speaker of the House, Benjamin Kalu and 14 others, the bill seeks to alter the relevant Sections of the 1999 Constitution to pave the way for states to establish their own policing outfits.
As lawmakers took turns to contribute to the debate on the floor of the House during yesterday’s plenary, Kalu who stood in for the Speaker, Abbas Tajudeen, urged members to look beyond political ambitions and think about the safety of Nigerians and Nigeria.
Also speaking, Babajimi Benson (APC, Lagos) said, “It is the job of the police to maintain law and order. We have a population of over 200m people but we have a police strength that is less than 400,000. State Police should be created to address the internal security challenges of Nigeria.”
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