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Question From A Non-Shiite Nigerian

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By Ibrahim Sheme.

Anybody saying the Shiites could be made to become “hardened” through the ongoing strong-arm security response to their demonstration in Abuja does not appear to know them properly.

Theologically they do not harbour “hardening elements” in the mould of, say, the Boko Haram as some analysts think. For one, they fully believe in “Boko” (western education), that is why they are everywhere – in business, politics, government, media, schools, and even the security services, among others. And that is why they do everything in the open. The guys we see demonstrating in the streets are merely the “face of the Shiites”, but they are not the only ones.

From my reading of their history and activities, I do not believe they will engage in an insurgency like that of BH. I cannot think of a country where they did that, including those countries where they were/are severely persecuted – e.g. Iran under the Shah and today’s Saudi Arabia. But they believe in increasing their numbers to such a humungous level where it is possible for them to launch a revolution. Alternatively, they believe in acquiring or utilising power through participatory politics and all other legitimate human endeavours – very much unlike the BH whose core belief centres on armed resistance.

Someone in the security circle seems to know only the aspect of their non-violent, participatory bent, in my view, hence the gruesome campaign to depopulate them through the brazen killing of their unarmed members participating in civil protest. But killing them is a misplaced and misguided option. The fact that what they are doing tallies with their constitutional rights makes the killing illegal and untenable and disturbingly smacks of a Sunni plot.

Another thing those authorising the killing do not seem to know is that these gun-shootings don’t scare the Shiites into submission or dispersal because martyrdom is at the core of their theology. The only “hardening element” the killing tends to cause is that it strengthens the Shiites’ sense of martyrdom and galvanises them into more protest. In the end the government is the loser because it is attracting negative world and local attention to itself.

Already, there is a growing backlash. One, human rights organizations have been crying foul, with Amnesty International two days ago giving a damning report on the strong-arm response to the Shi’a protest. Two, more than a million votes (of the Shiites) have already been lost by the ruling APC in next year’s general elections. I daresay most Shi’a votes in the 2015 elections went to Buhari rather than to Jonathan, but this time around your guess is as good as mine! Three, some local legal luminaries and civil rights campaigners are talking about compiling evidence for filing a case at the International Criminal Court (ICC) sometime in the future. The question from me, a non-Shi’a Nigerian, is this: Pray, does Baba Buhari need all this awful negativity?

If I were an aide with the President’s listening ear, I would tell Baba this:

1. Stop the brutal killing of the young protesters.

2. Release Sheikh Elzakzaky, his wife and other Shi’a detainees immediately.

3. Rebuild and give back Elzakzaky’s Zaria house and learning centre.

4. Pay compensation to Elzakzaky for the killings and the demolitions.

5. Advise Governor El-Rufai and any other state governor to reach a rapprochement with the Shiites.

6. Prosecute in court any Shiite found breaking the law in due course.

Doing this, I believe, is in accordance with the oath of office the President took. Sadly, I am no such aide and it appears that those who have his listening ear either are afraid to tell him the truth or actually think the present like of action is the best. Or, maybe, they don’t give a hoot about any possible consequences.

Ibrahim Sheme is a bilingual Nigerian writer, journalist, filmmaker and publisher.

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Nigeria elders call for national dialogue to tackle Insecurity

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By Rapheal Izokpu

Some elders have demanded a national dialogue and genuine reconciliation across the six geopolitical zones of the country, to stem the spare of insecurity in the country.

This is as they called for other urgent and drastic measures to overcome the situation, saying Nigeria was sitting on a time bomb.

The elders operating under the umbrella of Forum of Nigeria Elders, in a statement on Wednesday also warned against non adherence to the country’s federal character principles in appointments into key positions, noting that the drafters of the Constitution did not make mistakes in making such provision.

The statement signed by Dr Balarabe Usman Wudil, for North West, Engr Zana Goni for North East. Prof Ambrose Terngu for North Central, Prof. Finebone Tamuno for South South, Dr Ayo Bankole for South West  and Prof. Chika Madumere for South East, respectively, lamented the exclusion of the South-East Geopolitical Zone in appointments especially in the country’s security sector.
They then tasked President Muhammadu Buhari to review his policy with a view to correcting the anomaly.

They said the national dialogue was needed to discuss the fault lines, leading the country to its present predicaments.

Besides, the group tasked authorities to immediately begin engagement of youths in peace advocacy meetings where issues promoting peaceful and harmonious living devoid of religious, tribal or regional inclinations were made the focal points.

“We are a group of elders from the six geopolitical zones of the country that have worked at different high levels of our chosen careers. We are worried at the current state of security situation in the country. It is regrettable that the development which had come like a child’s play some few years ago has assumed the current dimension. As a country, we are currently sitting on a time bomb and we wish to sound alarm that if nothing urgent is done to arrest this ugly situation,we will be consumed,” the Forum of Nigeria Elders said in the statement.

Going further, the group said, “We are alamed by the dangerous wave of violence blowing round the country, this must not be allowed to fester on given that it does no one any good.”

“We are concerned about blatant disregard to the federal character principles in appointments into key positions in the country. We task President Muhammadu Buhari to reflect over this and put things in their right places as the drafters of our constitution did not make any mistake in making the provision.

“Appointments into key positions should be evenly spread devoid of religious, ethnic and regional considerations. This will help promote national unity which our founding fathers worked tirelessly for.

“Appointments, particularly into key positions in the security sector must be on merit besides regional consideration to give every section of the country a sense of belonging. The insecurity building up as a result of cry for injustice and the quest for self-rule can be greatly tackled through this hence we are  by this calling on Mr President, Muhammadu Buhari to review his governing strategies with a view to getting needed and expected results.

“The federal government under the leadership of our dear president, friend and brother, President Muhammadu Buhari, must address the issues of injustice in appointments into key sectors especially people of the South East of the country and address the issues of security in all part of the country,” it said.

The group explained that “As a group of elders, we  see the urgent need to add  our voice to the already loud voices of Nigerians across all divides on the need for the federal government to take  urgent steps in leading the way for a national dialogue and reconciliation starting with addressing the issues of injustices and neglect in government appointments especially the security sector.”

“This must be followed  up with a national dialogue and genuine reconciliation across the six geopolitical zones of the country, else we will have ourselves to blame,” the statement warned.

The elders, who said, “We have served the country at different times and capacities in our fields”, regretted the security development in the country.

“We make bold to say that there is no time in the history of Nigeria that our country is so divided along religious and ethnic lines like now. This, we must as a country try to arrest now. The onus rests on President Buhari and we advise that he should place his name on the sands of time by bequeathing the legacy of enthroning a good Nigeria suitable for all to live in to us now,” it advised.

The group warned against the repeat of mistakes of the past which it noted, led the country to what it called “avoidable civi war”,
“In the past, we had civil war caused mostly by some avoidable issues. These issues are still thriving in our national life with the government and its handlers giving deaf ears to them. We must do everything to avoid repeat of the past mistakes,” the group reiterated. 

The elders said: “Most of us here worked actively for this administration and are actually still card-carrying members of the ruling party”, adding: “But its time to speak up without sentiments and recourse to party, religious, ethnic and tribal considerations.”

 The group advised that: “The president should delegate his appointees to move to their various zones of the country to work with the elders of the regions  and youths to descalate the looming conflict.”      

“Nigeria is sitting on time  bomb and something needs to be done very fast. 

“We appeal to our dear president, Muhammadu Buhari to begin to ignore rhetorics and empty assurances being given to him by his security chiefs and move to actions that will save our country from the brink of total collapse,” the statement advised.

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Petitioner alleges police collected N203, 000 for bullets used in shooting his brother

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By Ameh Ejekwonyilo

A petitioner before the National Human Rights Commission’s independent investigate on police brutality, Mr. Abraham Nyamkwange, has narrated how the police “told” his family to pay the sum of one hundred thousand naira (N100,000)  for a bullet used in shooting his elder brother, Simon Aondofa  Nyamkwange over an alleged robbery incident in April 2020 at Eterna filling station in Wuse 2, Abuja.

Testifying before the 11-Member panel chaired by Justice Suleiman Galadima (rtd), on Friday, Simon recalled that on the 24th of April, 2020 his brother’s wife Rosemary Nyamkwange, phoned early in the morning to inform him that she had just learnt that my brother had been shot.

The petitioner who said he lives in Lugbe, Abuja, informed the panel that on receiving the bad news, he quickly contacted one of his cousins who lives in Mararaba, Nasarawa state to meet him in Wuse, Abuja so that they could jointly report the matter to the police.

According to him, he and his cousin went to SARS office in Abuja, where they were later referred to Wuse zone 3 police station.

On reaching there, he said that one Mr. Ibrahim who identified himself as the IPO, told them that his brother was shot at Eterna filling station at Wuse Zone 2 and that when he was brought to the police station he bled to death.

He stated that the IPO showed them his late brother’s driver’s license, GSM phone, two ATM cards (Zenith and ECO bank) and one other identity card possible to prove the identity of the deceased.

Abraham informed the panel that the IPO Ibrahim (2nd respondent) said he was instructed not to say anything concerning the matter.

In the process of seeking the release of his late brother’s corpse, the complainant alleged that officer Aunde Peter (3rd respondent), officer (Mrs) Aunde (4th respondent) and one (Vershima Zaki (non-police officer and 5th respondent), extorted two hundred and three thousand naira from his family and never released the corpse till date.

DPO Mr. Mamman Joseph, Commissioner of Police FCT and Inspector General of Police were listed as 1st, 6th and 7th respondents respectively in the matter.

The aforesaid amount, according to the petitioner, was remitted to the police in two instalments of N103,000 and N100,000 naira (for the bullet expended in shooting the victim) respectively.

Thereafter, the family could no longer reach any of the affected police officers on phone, neither did they release the corpse for which they collected the stated amount, the petitioner added.

When the panel asked him the whereabouts of his late brother’s body, the complainant said that he was informed by the police that his body was deposited at Wuse zone 3 General Hospital.

On his prayers before the panel, Abraham pleaded with the panel to order the police to release his brother’s corpse to his family for proper burial.

He also prayed the panel to order the police to pay the family the sum of two hundred million naira (N200 million) as compensation for the alleged extra-judicial killing of his brother by the police.

In addition, he implored the panel to ensure that justice prevails concerning the death of his brother.

The matter was adjourned to 7th of April 2021 for police to open their defense.

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Abia’s Ikpeazu completes construction of Amuzukwu Road projects

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The Governor of Abia State, Okezie Ikpeazu has completed the construction and reconstruction of multiple road projects at Amuzukwu Ibeku community in Umuahia North Local Government Area of the State.

This is also coming barely a week after the governor commissioned the reconstructed Eziukwu road, Milverton Avenue and Ojike Lane in Aba South Local Government Area, LGA.

Governor Ikpeazu reiterated the determination and focus of his government to complete and commission road projects across the seventeen local government areas of the State before bowing out of office.

Meanwhile, a cross-section of journalists on Saturday embarked on an assessment tour on the state of infrastructures in Umuahia North local government area, housing the state capital city.

At the inspection visit to Amuzukwu Umuahia Ibeku, the road projects being constructed by Governor Ikpeazu-led administration and attracted by the Speaker of Abia House of Assembly, and members representing Umuahia central state constituency, Rt. Hon. Chinedum Orji has been completed with some ongoing which is almost at 95 percent completion.

During the tour, residents of Amuzukwu community who spoke with newsmen, on Saturday, lauded the administration for keeping its electoral promises to bring democratic dividends to the doorsteps of the Abia people, adding that the constructed roads were of high quality.

A teacher, resident in Amuzukwu, Mr Kelechi Nduka lamented the difficulties faced by people plying the roads in the past, especially during the rainy season and commended the State Government for the laudable gestures as it has addressed their yearnings.

According to Nduka, “We thank both Governor Ikpeazu and the Speaker, Hon. Chinedum Orji for this rare dividend of democracy we are enjoying today, because we have heard so much about how the two of them, the Executive and the legislative arms of government of the state are working in synergy to better our lives. And these multiple roads being done in our community are evidence of that fact.

Also speaking, Mrs Chinatu Nathan, a resident and petty trader in Umuezearota Amuzukwu, said before now that it was an uphill task to make her desired sales in a day because the road leading to her shop was so bad that even residents close to her would rather go the distance to buy their needs at the other side of the community whose roads were also barely passable but better than the ones leading to her residence where she also runs her provision store.

According to her, such a trend had negative impacts on her business. She also recalled that tricycle operators always stopped passengers residing in their own part of the community some miles away while they trekked from there to their respective abodes because the road was so bad it was simply unpassable.

“But today, the story has changed, and I want to sincerely thank the Abia Speaker whom I learnt attracted the project to us. Since this road was done, businesses in the area have picked up; tricycle operators now happily come into the community to drop off their passengers”.

On his part Chief Charles Nmesirionye Amajor, an Indigene of Umuezearota in Amuzukwu narrated how Keke operators before now had treated them like they “reside in a forbidden area by dropping off their passengers who reside in the area some way off because of the very bad roads forcing them to trek some distance to their respective homes from the point of alighting. But now the story is different.

He thanked the government for ending the hardship being encountered by motorists and pedestrians as a result of the deplorable roads, by reconstructing the bad roads.

Amajor described the government’s gesture to the Amuzukwu community in the state capital city, as symbolic.

Speaking further, the President General of Amuzukwu Autonomous Community, Chief Sir P.I. Nweke said the gesture has addressed the infrastructural needs of the people residing in the area.

He said, “Before now, this Umuokoo Road (one of the dilapidated roads in the community) was impassible and the residents, therefore, had it very tough. But today, the story has changed! One can even drive his car or tricycle into his abode with no stress; my people are very happy and it’s a thing of great joy for us that the Speaker made a promise to construct these roads and in less than 48 hours after, work began in earnest.

While speaking about the project, the Executive Director of Pumeco Construction Company, an indigenous company handling the road projects in Amuzukwu Community, Engr. Emeka Ezeanyagu said the company has concluded the construction of Umuokoo and Umuwaya internal roads in Amuzukwu and was almost done with the reconstruction of Amuzukwu to Umuezeagwu road.

He also disclosed that the company would move its equipment to Umueze and Afaraukwu Umuahia Ibeku communities for more construction of roads as contracted.

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Gov Wike describes Traditional Rulers as partners in state building

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Rivers State Governor, Barr Nyesom Wike;  Chairman of Rivers State Traditional Rulers Council and Amanyanabo of Opobo, King Dandeson Douglas Jaja and other monarchs, at 113th Quarterly General Meeting of the State Traditional Rulers Council in Port Harcourt on Thursday.

From Blessing Ibunge, Port Harcourt

Rivers State Governor,  Nyesom Wike has described the traditional rulers as partners in state development.

Governor Wike said that his led administration has sustained a close working relationship with traditional rulers because they are strategic partners in achieving the development objectives in the state.

The Governor who stated  this while declaring open the 113th Quarterly General Meeting of the Rivers State Traditional Rulers Council in Port Harcourt, explained that the traditional institution is not a colonial relic but one that is bequeathed by the ancestors to offer leadership to the people and advance the development of the communities.

He said his administration will continues to expect the royal fathers to work with the State Government in building a strong State to deliver quality education, affordable healthcare, clean water, sanitation and tarred roads to the various communities.

“Although there is room for improvement, I believe that most of you have done well to promote, project and fulfil the responsibilities of your revered stools and titles.

“For us therefore, traditional rulers are so strategic to our development agenda for the State. It is for this reason that we have endeavoured to respect and relate as closely as possible with each and every one of you to advance our development objectives.”

Speaking further,  Governor Wike stated that having restored the dignity of the traditional institution on assumption of office in 2015,  he upgraded and recognized some  stools,  gave staff of office to 280 traditional rulers and built a state of the art secretariat for the council.

The governor said priority has been placed on extending the on-going development to all parts of the state so that the people can enjoy access to education, healthcare service, clean water, electricity, have landing jetties, land reclamation and  construction of internal roads.

“Your Majesty and your team has led this Council for the last five years and I am sure you may now be willing to yield to a fresh leadership. Thank you for your service to the State, and the good people of your kingdom, under my administration.

“We promise that 2021 is going to be another busy year for Rivers State not only in the execution of people-oriented projects, but also in our resolve to put the State on a new course of progress, unity and enduring peace and security.

“What we ask of you in particular is to take the lead in mobilizing your communities to key into our plans and reap the benefits of development as a shared commitment to service and responsibility to the people.”

Chairman of Rivers State Traditional Rulers Council, King Dandeson Douglas Jaja, said members of the council are aware that the slumping oil price in the international market has affected the revenue from the federation accounts to the states, but  despite this, Governor Wike had used the available resources prudently.

King Jaja who is also the Amanyanabo of Opobo, noted the visible the completion and commissioning of the Rebisi flyover,  other on-going flyovers, world class hospital at Government House,  Emmanuel Aguma Judges Quarters,  and projects under the urban renewal  programme.

He commended Governor Wike for standing up to some criminal elements who exploited the #EndSARS protest in the state to disrupt the peace.

“Rivers State will continue to open up its arm of hospitality to everyone irrespective of ethnicity and religion who wishes to live here to do legitimate businesses.

“It will not be safe haven for criminals and criminal element who constitute great nuisance to peaceful and law-abiding members of society.

“As a council of Traditional Rulers,  we wholesomely,  support your excellency,  in all actions that you have taken in this regard, to protect the sovereignty of our state and lives and property of millions of residents of the state.”

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