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Polls: NHRC To Invite Kogi Gov, MC Oluomo For Questioning

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The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) yesterday said it would invite Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State and the Chairman of Lagos State Parks Management Committee, Musiliu Akinsanya a.k.a. MC Oluomo for questioning, following their behaviours and alleged inciting comments during the 2023 general election.
Bello had, a day before the Presidential and National Assembly elections held, on February 25, allegedly ordered bulldozers to demarcate a road, linking Kogi Central Senatorial District.
The move was seen as an alleged ploy to prevent officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission from taking election materials to the stronghold of his political rival, and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan.
On his part, MC Oluomo was alleged to have warned the Igbo in Lagos to stay indoors, if they would not vote for Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and the All Progressives Congress. MC Oluomo has, however, debunked this.
Answering questions from journalists after reading its preliminary statement of the 2023 Governorship and State Assembly elections, the Executive Secretary of the NHRC, Tony Ojukwu, said both Bello and MC Oluomo would be invited for interrogation.
He said, “We are monitoring the cyber space to track hate speeches and cyber bullying. Part of the sources of our information is the cyber space. We’ll invite MC Oluomo for questioning because his statement is worrisome. I listened to the Commissioner of Police in Lagos State yesterday, (Saturday), and he said they were investigating the matter. But that will not stop the Commission from carrying out its mandate. We will also invite Kogi State governor for questioning over what happened in Kogi State.”
According to him, the Commission, as part of its mandate to promote and protect human rights, deployed 600 staff human right monitors across the 36 states for the governorship and House of Assembly elections.
He said the preliminary report highlighted key findings from monitoring over 1300 polling units by the commission’s staff and reports, and complaints received from Nigerians in its Human Rights Situation Room.
The Commission, during the election, according to him, also monitored, among other issues relating to the conduct of law enforcement and security personnel, hate speech, election related Sexual and Gender Based Violence and vote buying.
Ojukwu stressed, “The environment before the election was fraught with tension, arising from reports and allegations of threats from different political parties and their supporters concerning the elections. Ethnic division and hate speeches were rife in many states, including Lagos, Enugu, Kano, Kaduna and Rivers. This led to the publication by the NHRC of an ‘Advisory on Hate Speech Based on Ethnic and Religious Sentiments and 2023 General Elections in Nigeria,’ on March 16, 2023.
“In Lagos, Enugu, Ebonyi and a few other states, there were threats of violence on opposition supporters, including the use of traditional institutions, schools and the public service. The advisory highlighted areas of concern for the Commission and recommended steps to be taken by the various agencies to address the issues before, during and after the elections”.
He continued, “Compared to the Presidential and National Assembly election of February, the Governorship and House of ASsembly elections witnessed a low voter turnout. In states like Niger, Kwara, Benue and Kogi, the turn out was abysmally low, and in almost all the southeastern states, low turn out was also recorded.
“It is important to note that the NHRC in its monthly Review Forum on Human Rights and the 2023 elections warned that the consequences of the hitches and irregularities recorded in the presidential election were capable of increasing voter apathy. It is also important to note that threats of violence prior to the elections may also have played a major factor.
“Our monitors reported incidents of violence, including cases of assault, vandalism, destruction of election materials and polling units in 16 per cent of the polling units monitored. There were reports from Rivers State of hoodlums attacking INEC officials and stealing the BVAS device and election materials”.
He stressed, “There were also reported cases of abduction of INEC Officials in Isu LGA of Imo State and attacks on INEC officials in Odoakpu Ward 7, Onitsha in Anambra State. There were also various reports of attacks on polling units from Lagos, Rivers, Nasarawa and Enugu states. In Kano State, there was a report of violence in Rogo Ward of Sabo Gari Local Government Area that led to the death of one person.
“The Commission also received reports of disruption of elections in Ogbia Constituency 2 in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State. This resulted in no elections in four wards and 94 polling units. There was also a report of ballot box snatching in Enugu East LGA.
“The Commission received with great concern, the attack on the ARISE News crew at Elegushi Palace. We call on law enforcement to investigate these and other incidents of violence and bring perpetrators to book. The Commission received reports of the killing of thugs in Lagos, Katsina and Benue states, Labour Party agents in Lagos,” it said and cautioned, “Elections are not war and no life should be lost in the process of elections.
“Our monitors reported that there were incidents of voter suppression in 11 per cent of areas monitored. Thirty-two polling units did not have results corresponding with the number of accredited voters. This also suggests that there may have been cases of voter suppression or other irregularities in these units. We will investigate these incidents further to ensure that voters’ rights are protected. In Lagos, there were reports of disenfranchisement of voters, based on ethnic grounds and perceived opposite political persuasion. This has become a worrisome trend which should be checked.
“Vote-buying was reported in 14 per cent of polling units monitored by the NHRC monitors. Our monitors also reported 192 incidents of vote-buying, which is a disturbing trend in our electoral process. The Commission received reports of vote-buying from Imo, Zamfara, Cross River and Kano states. The Managing Director of Kano line was allegedly arrested for vote-buying at Masaka polling unit, Kofar-Mazugal ward, Dala- LGA, Kano State. It has also been reported that operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency arrested vote buyers in Ogun and Kaduna states respectively”.

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Why We Chose Mayor of Housing As Patron -Govt House Choir

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Members of the Rivers State Government House Choir have explained the carefulness exercised in picking the Mayor of Housing, My-ACE China, as the first patron of the ensemble.
Mr China was installed as Patron and member of the ensemble Sunday last at a colourful but solemn ceremony marked by some of the most exhilarating songs.
Explaining the painstaking process, one of the choristers, Kate Ogan, who is also a media personality, said nobody enters into the Ensemble without serious background check.
Ogan said: “We saw a lot of qualities in My-ACE China including his exploits promoting human capacity development in Rivers State. When we identified these qualities in him, we resolved after investigations to bring him closer.
“It is clear that no one person can do everything for a society or a state, so we need others to help to develop people. Let people take a cue from My-ACE China in seeking ways to develop the society.”
She told newsmen that some people were usually scared of business people but that the Government House Choir were comfortable with him. “We couldn’t have just brought him or anybody in without background checks or investigations. Each of us was also screened before we were accepted. We also pray before we touch anyone. We prayed and we got the leading to go ahead.”
Another member, MrAsueiza Ezekiel Iyalla, who sings in the alto segment, said they saw in the Mayor of Housing, somebody full of respect to God. “We see someone that can bring value to this choir. We only had a very short meeting and he said things that would amaze us about things that can bring value to this project and this state. Working with him, we will go higher and higher.
“We appeal to other Nigerians to come and see the roles they can play to lift the talents of Rivers people. We have the best organist in Nigeria. If people come in, they can see exportable talents.”
In his opinion, Mike Julius, bass singer, said the Mayor of Housing, despite being in real estate, finds time for God. “He takes out time to commune with his Maker. He is also a singer. So, we bring him closer to see the talents we have in this state. Today, he has joined the choir of the Government House and he came to see what he can do to lift it higher.”
Reacting after the presentation of his induction plaque, the Mayor of Housing, who was accompanied by his wife, Chidinma China, said he saw it as a huge privilege. He said the onus and responsibility of taking the best part and the best light from Rivers State to the rest of the world is an honour to him.
|And, it is a privilege I find very rare. It is rather like a spiritual conferment on me than a choral role from this or any other choral group for that matter. I feel like a man called into ecclesiastical mission.
“This will spur me to not only make sure they get all the resources and personnel they need to be world class, but to ensure that they are seen as world class. This is because we live in a 21st century reality that nobody sees or values you if you are not known. It is my onus to make sure that this beautiful choir in this Government House in this beautiful entity called Rivers State is known all over the world as the best of what Rivers State has to export.”
He said Nigeria has the best of the best in talent, art, music, and culture. What is wrong is that we have been carried away by politics and eking a living that we tend to neglect these things.
“Neglect leads to death and whatever you neglect dies. So, my message to Nigerians is, don’t neglect the rich heritage of where we come from; especially our skills and talents. You will be surprised how much more that would get us to our destination than politics and the like.”
It was gathered that the umbrella body of the Government House Choir is the Riv-Harmonious Mission Ensemble.
It was further gathered that the Choir moves out when representing the State Government or on an exclusive Government Programme. Also, in very selective outings in stand-up performances or own concerts.
However, for exclusively private performances, they go by their umbrella name – Riv-Harmonious Mission Ensemble.
The Rivers group is said to be made up of professionals in terms of singing and occupation. They have in graduates in diverse fields as well as career professionals – Business men, chartered accountants (ICAN), On Air Personalities (OAPs), entrepreneurs, etc.
Some of them have more than 30 years of singing and instrumental careers. That is said to be only possible with commitment, dedication, passion and basically, service to God.
Talent base:
Many say the biggest asset in Rivers State may not be in oil/gas but in the reservoir of talents that abound, plus human capital development.
That could be why whenever a governor that values human capital steps into office, the state seems to vibrate: scholarships to study anywhere, training schemes, ICT schemes, industrial attachments, SME loans, etc.
The next big asset for the state is said to be agric which goes from crop yields (especially cassava and palm oil) and aquatic resources.
In talents, the dances and drama of the state have produced world beaters but it can do much more if the state’s leaders are intentional about it.
Many would easily talk about the Mercy Johnsons of this world, Hilda Dokubo, Yibo Koko, Julius Agwu, Duncan Mighty, Sam Dede the Isakaba man, and of late, Burna Boy. But many may never know that a big voice asset is an ensemble in the womb of power, the Brick House, which is the Government House of Rivers State. Yes, the same place that oozes power, crisis, and threat.
The name of the Chapel is called the Chapel of Everlasting Grace’.
On the installation evening, the Music Director, Mr Enitoun Ezekiel Iyalla, after the opening prayers and directions of the reverend who is the Chaplain, Dr Joseph Joseph, took the Choir on a windy lane of many classics.
The nigh was highlighted by soprano solo by a man that does not see physically (vision impaired) but who is being compared with the greatest sopranos in the world, Cameroon Ayebatari.
The highlight of songs was ‘Peace, Be Still” which was dedicated to the affairs of Rivers State where peace and still waters are known to be most needed.
Then, the conferment of Patron and honorary membership to the Mayor of Housing. Those who knew the Mayor of Housing talked about versatility, academic brilliance (best graduating student in both secondary school in Jos with 9 As and in the UNN), generosity, and above all, his fire burning spiritual life.
The partnership resolved with determination to promote the choir beyond being an ensemble in an enclosure. The coming of the Mayor of Housing may ensure global audience for the Choir.

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FG Appeals To Youths To Shelve Protest

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President Bola Tinubu, yesterday appealed to Nigerian youths to shelve their plans to carry out protests.

Alhaji Mohammed Idris, Minister of Information and National Orientation, disclosed this while addressing State House correspondents after a meeting with the President.

According to Idris, the President does not see any need for protest, he has listened to them, and asked them to await government’s response to all their pleas.

“Mr President has asked me to again inform Nigerians that he listens to them, especially the young people that are trying to protest.

“Mr President listens to them, he takes what they say seriously and he is working assiduously to ensure that this country is good not just for today but also for the future,” he said.

He said the government was doing a lot of things to cushion the hardship experienced by Nigerians.

“Today, the National Assembly has expeditiously passed the bill on National Minimum Wage. You can see how the President is working, it was transmitted only yesterday and today it has been passed.

“A lot of other interventions that the President has put in place are also going to be looked at expeditiously in the interest of Nigerians.

“So, there is no need for protest, the young people out there should listen to the President and allow him more time to see to the realisation of all the goodies he has for them,” Idris said.

The minister said the highlights of other policies to cushion the effect of the hardship Nigerians were feeling included distribution of grains and rice by the Federal Government to state governments.

“Like I said that time it is just the necessary first step. Government is going to continue in that direction, assuring that whatever intervention the Federal Government has put in place will go to those that should benefit.

“The Federal Government is looking at strategies that every intervention will go directly to those who benefit from those interventions not middle men intercepting them along the way,” he said.

He added that another important intervention by the Federal Government was the students loan.

“Mr President is very passionate about it, that everyone that should go to school will have the opportunity to do so.

“It is no longer a time for our young men and women who have passed examinations to go to tertiary institutions not to be able to do that because their parents cannot pay for their fees,” said the minister.

He said the government was also perfecting a scheme to support graduates of universities and polytechnics that were not able to get jobs until they got employed.

“The whole idea is that no one is left behind, it is an all inclusive government and the President is determined to ensure that no one is left behind in this attempt to march Nigeria towards progress,” said Idris.

The minister said his meeting with the President was to discuss issues relating to government’s media organisations such as NTA, FRCN, NAN and VON.

“We have discussed all that, we have also arrived at situations that will help their positions as public information platforms of the country.

“They should be in the forefront and we are doing everything possible to make sure that they are being repositioned so that they can serve Nigeria very well,” he said.

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We’ll Deliver Okania-Ogbogoro Road By Dec, Fubara Assures  …Says 90% Drainage Work Ready

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Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has assured of the timely completion of the 5-kilometer Okania-Ogbogoro Road that will ease movement for both residents and motorists who use that path to avoid the traffic problem caused by the ongoing construction of the Port Harcourt Ring Road in the State.

 

The Okania-Ogbogoro Road is in Akpor area of Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of the State capital.

 

The Governor also described as fulfilling the expression of joy and excitement by residents of Okania and Ogbogoro communities who are seeing their major access road that was abandoned for about 14 years, being reconstructed with about 90 percent drainage work achieved.

 

Governor Fubara spoke shortly after embarking on a long trek of the 5-kilometer Okania-Ogbogoro road, inspecting culverts, drainages, texture of the surface layers of the road work, and receiving explanations from the Commissioner for Works, Engr Elloka Tasie-Amadi, who accompanied him on the inspection tour on Monday.

 

The Governor said: “You are aware that two months ago, we came here to flag off this project, having considered the importance of this road; knowing fully well what our people are suffering because of the Ring Road we are constructing.

 

“So, we are here this evening to assess the level of work going on here. I think from what we are seeing, it is better than what we met the first time we came here.

 

“The contractor has assured us that they have done 90 percent of the drainage work; and following the raining season, they are expecting to achieve a greater part of the project hopefully within August and September.”

 

Governor Fubara also said: “All things been equal, he has also assured us that by December, if we miss November, we will be coming here to commission this road.

 

“You can see how excited our people are. It is a road that has been abandoned for over 14 years. So, it means this project means a lot to the people living here.

 

“And for us as a government, it also means a lot that we are doing something that is touching the lives of our people,” he added.

 

He urged the people to exercise patience as a good quality road would be delivered for their use very soon, adding that the only thing the government expects from the people is their total support while maintaining peace in their communities.

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