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PMB, Afenifere Mourn As Awolowo’s Eldest Daughter, Tola, Dies At 79 [LEADERSHIP]

President Muhammadu Buhari has condoled with the family of late premier of the defunct Western Region and nationalist, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, over the death of Mrs Tola Oyediran, his eldest daughter.

The President in a statement by his media aide, Garba Shehu, commiserated with friends and associates of Mrs Oyediran, particularly her only surviving sister, Dr Tokunbo Awolowo- Dosumu, over the sad loss, urging the family to take solace in the investments of the deceased in making life better for others.

LEADERSHIP Weekend reports that the eldest daughter of late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Revd (Mrs) Tola Oyediran died at the age of 79.

Oyediran who died on Friday in Ibadan, Oyo State was the chairman of the African Newspapers of Nigeria, (ANN) publisher of Tribune titles.

The late Tola was married to the former Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, Professor Olukayode Oyediran.

The pan Yoruba socio-cultural and political organisation, Afenifere, has also described the demise of Mrs Oyediran as devastating and a great blow.

The organisation in a statement by its national publicity secretary, Mr Yinka Odumakin, said Afenifere is devastated by the sad news of Mrs Oyediran’s death.

 

The statement read, “Farewell Mrs Tola Oyediran. Afenifere is devastated by the sad news of the demise of Mrs Tola Oyediran, the eldest surviving child of our leader, Chief Obafemi Awolowo.

Also, the Yoruba Youth Socio-cultural Association (YYSA) expressed shock over the news of the death of Mrs Oyediran.

The association’s national chairman, Comrade Hammed Olalekan, described her exist as a monumental loss.

“We received the news of Mrs Tola Oyediran, eldest daughter of late Chief Obafemi Awolowo with shock.

This is as the national leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu also commiserated with the Awolowo family, Tribune Newspapers, Ogun and Oyo states governors over the demise of Oyediran.

Tinubu, in a statement by his media aide, Tunde Rahman, said, “I’m deeply saddened by the news of the passing of Mrs. Tola Oyediran, the first daughter of our late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo.

“Mrs. Oyediran’s humble, amiable and graceful disposition endeared her to many of us. She represented the Awolowo family positively through her excellent moral conduct and shared her father’s welfarist political philosophy.”

 

We Must Get Children Back To Learning But Not Business As Usual [[LEADERSHIP]

“One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.” These words by Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai could not ring more true. Making sure girls and boys all over the world get good quality education is how we will build a more sustainable, more equal and more peaceful world.

Global school closures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic have resulted in unprecedented disruption to children’s education, with more than a billion students affected.

Those who have returned to school are presented with new challenges – masks, social distancing, lack of access to handwashing facilities and fears of getting sick. As the digital divide deepens, most will have missed out on the chance to learn from home over the past few months. They will have fallen behind as a result, making the return to classrooms more daunting for them – and for their teachers.

In many ways, however, they are still the lucky ones. The new challenges they face are by far overshadowed by the catastrophic long-term impact of missing out on education altogether, particularly in the poorest countries and those affected by conflicts or crises.

We know from previous crises that the longer children stay out of school, the less likely they are to return. We also know that when children do not go to school, they are at increased risk of violence, abuse and exploitation. Girls face the additional risk of early marriage and pregnancy. Now with COVID, and as essential health, nutrition, immunisation and child protection services are put on hold, children are also exposed to undernutrition, disease, mental health issues and abuse.

In these most difficult of circumstances, can we still win the battle to educate our children? The answer is a resounding “yes”. But for this, like model students, we will need to work even harder to get the results we want.

In response to global pandemic, the European Union and its Member States – Team Europe – have demonstrated the power of working together for better results. Given our proven track record of getting results from our partnerships, the EU and UNICEF can together make a lasting difference to education outcomes worldwide.

There are concrete steps we can take to safeguard children’s futures, steps that will build on existing work and strike out in new, innovative directions. This means investing now, so that the most vulnerable children can re-enter education. It means making sure that their schools are safe and their teachers can respond to their needs. It means reshaping education systems so that children graduate with 21st-century skills, such as digital skills and entrepreneurship training, ready for the new world before them.

Recently, we have seen impressive change, with many governments providing education online, on television, on the radio and via mobile phone. For instance, in Somalia, offline recorded lessons are being uploaded onto solar-powered tablets and made available to children. In Kyrgyzstan, children can access remote learning through online platforms, three national TV channels and two mobile network applications free of charge. In Vietnam, certain tests and modules have been dropped from the curriculum, while others have been postponed to the next school year to allow students to catch up on missed learning over the whole of next year, and to reduce academic pressure and psychosocial stress.

So the green shoots of recovery are there. Now it is time to nurture them. This is the moment to reimagine education systems, embrace technology, remove barriers and give all children the same access to modern education systems.

This must include closing the online education gap. We must embrace and invest in the promise of online learning – not just basic skills like reading and math, but digital, entrepreneurial and workplace skills, so young people can join the workforce.

Above all, education budgets must be protected from cuts as the global economic crisis bites. Education must be seen as part of the COVID-19 recovery plan: Rather than diverting finances away from education, there must be more investment to strengthen education systems. Education is essential to human development, which underlies all EU investments in international cooperation and this will be boosted in EU development financing for the upcoming period. Building back better applies as much to education as to anything else.

 

 How Igbo can get 2023 presidency –Nabena, APC spokesperson [SUN]

The All Progressives Congress (APC) Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabena, is a man of few words. Speaking to Saturday Sun in Abuja, he explained that leadership style and approach is the difference between sacked national chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and the current chairman APC Caretaker/Extraordinary National Convention Planning Committee, Governor Mai Mala Buni.

Nabena equally suggested measures the Southeast geopolitical zone can adopt to actualise Igbo presidency in 2023. He also spoke on the political developments in his home state, Bayelsa, describing Governor Duoye Diri as a man of complex and ex-President Goodluck Jonathan as a bad example of a true brother to Bayelsans. ROMANUS UGWU has the details.

What do you think was responsible for the APC victory in the just concluded Ondo state governorship election?

The return of unity and peace within the fold of the party was what made us to achieve that victory in Ondo. Yes, there were cracks and crisis going into the election especially after the party’s primaries, but the chairman of the Caretaker Committee and the governor of Yobe state, Mai Mala Buni, constituted a reconciliation committee that really did the ground work.

The committee pacified most of the aggrieved persons angered by the outcome of the party’s primary. The truth is that APC went into the Ondo state governorship election as a united house. It was a sweet victory. The election was not the same with that of the Edo governorship. It was very difficult to reconcile the aggrieved persons in Edo. Don’t also forget that the time the National Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole was removed and the election was too short for the reconciliation move to achieve any tangible result.

It would have been impossible for the APC to lose Edo if Oshiomhole was not removed as the party’s national chairman. It would have been a home coming for him. If we want to face reality, there was no modicum of respect left for him from the state since he was no longer the party chairman. The people saw hope in the sitting governor after Oshiomhole’s removal.

Don’t forget that the gladiators went into that election wounded and wanted to prove a point. It was a superiority contest between Abuja-based and state-based politicians all desperate to decide who should be in charge.

Let me however say that the election is over but the national leadership of the party has not left the Edo state chapter like that. You will agree with me that after the Edo election, we could not have bothered so much about reconciliation in Edo when we have serious election in Ondo. We had to concentrate on winning the election in Ondo because you know what it means going into Ondo election as a distracted house.

We would have given the PDP hope instead of hitting them very hard. Now that the party has met its target in Ondo, we will then bring the stakeholders in Edo together on a reconciliatory table for a meeting to talk to ourselves.

We will not stop at only Edo alone but also move into other states where there are division so that we can go into the 2023 general election as a united entity. There must always be fallout among members because there are people that will never accept defeat even when the victory is crystal clear and opt for litigation. These are the ones that believe that going to court offers them better bargaining authority. We must put the house together to go into 2023 in a united force.

Did it come to you as a surprise when Governor Obaseki said he won’t return to the APC?

How can it come to me as a surprise? It won’t have because APC did not go into any deal with Governor Obaseki of returning to the party after winning the election. If there is such agreement, I am not aware.

What are the differences in the style of leadership between Oshiomhole and the Caretaker Committee?

In the first place, NWC members are elected while the caretaker committee has appointed members. The mandate of this caretaker committee is simply to reconcile aggrieved party members and put the party in a killer mentality for victory in the 2023 general elections.

Unlike in the past, it is no longer the days one person would take total control of the party machinery and structure. The caretaker committee has decentralised the leadership structure, enabling every member to participate. It is no longer a winner takes all mentality. I know it won’t come as surprise to observers that many party members have accepted to forgive and let go the bitterness each has against the other. Don’t forget that the personality of the head matters. The personality and approach of the chairman of the caretaker committee, Governor Mai Mala Buni is entirely different from that of the immediate past national chairman of the party, Oshiomhole.

Governor Buni is more accessible than Oshiomhole. Buni has this general acceptance and adopts a mild way of communicating while some others are just like military people that will never give you the opportunity to explain your own part. They conclude even without hearing from the accused. Governor Buni takes things easy and he is somebody who listens. He is responsible for the return of many people to the party. He is a silent operator, deciding to do things quietly without blowing his trumpet. The approach Oshiomhole adopted did not make him a bad person, but his style was not acceptable to many party members. His style has been working for him but many are no longer comfortable with it.

Why then the current agitation for the Buni-led caretaker committee to go?

In politics, it is not possible for everybody to be on the same boat. We have people around that benefit from crisis and will do everything possible to fuel such. We have told them to bring forward their ideas so as to factor them into the plans of the caretaker committee.

 

Catholic priest, 2 children drown in Bayelsa flood [SUN]

The devastating flood sweeping through Bayelsa has claimed three casualties including a Catholic priest and two children.

The deceased priest, Fr Francis Ighorurhie was said to have drowned Thursday night after he fell off a wooden bridge at the flooded area of Kaiama community in Kolokuma/ Opokuma.

Ighorurhie, from Delta State was a missionary of St Paul (MSP) serving as the Parish Priest of St Joesph Catholic Church, Kaiama. According to eyewitness account, the wooden bridge had been submerged with the rising water and it has become difficult for the people to use it.

After divers recovered his body, the Bishop of Bomadi Diocese was informed and his remains was taken to the Federal Medical Centre (FMC) Yenagoa

His death was said to have been received with shock by parishioners and the people of the community who have called on the government to do something about the rising level of water in the state.

“This is a sad moment for us. Father was on his way back from Bomadi in Delta State when he met his untimely death. But for the flood he could still have driven his car straight to his residence instead of parking by the road. It was as he was walking on the wooden bridge, which has been submerged he slipped and got drowned. Those staying at his residence had to raise alarm when they saw his car by the roadside and he was nowhere to be found.

“They however became suspicious when they saw his bag containing some provision floating on the water not far from the bridge, divers were contacted and his remains was recovered”, said a sympathizer

Two school children were also said to have died at Goodnews road, Akikoro, in Yenagoa Local Government Area while returning from school. Many communities in Sagbama, Kolokuma/ Opokuma, Yenagoa Local Government Areas have been submerged due to the rising level of water in the State.

There have been calls by environmentalists that the government should close down the schools to so as not to expose children to unnecessary risks.

 

Nigeria’s unity hopeless, under threat –Kukah [SUN]

The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Most Revd (Dr) Matthew Hassan Kukah, has passed a damning verdict on Nigeria’s federation, saying that the nation’s unity is hopeless and under threat. In this interview with Saturday Sun, Kukah said Nigerians’ sense of national unity has never been more under threat than it is now.

While saying it was time to pause and examine the state of the country’s union,  Kukah further said the examination was  necessary because he was very afraid of the future of the country.

His words: “Our sense of national unity has never been more under threat than it is now and what I am saying is the thinking of majority of Nigerians across the land, including members of the ruling party. There is no need looking for a way forward until you know where you are first and we are in a bad hole. To move forward with digging is a disaster. It is time to pause and examine the state of the union because I am very afraid of the future.”

The former Secretary-General of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN), while lamenting the unfulfilled promises made to Nigerians by President Muhammadu Buhari, said: “the Chibok girls are not home, Leah Sharibu has not been accounted for, the Boko Haram fight has become an enterprise, the military is demoralised and so on.”

The Convener, National Peace Committee, also spoke on the just concluded Edo State governorship election, the Ondo State gubernatorial election, maintaining that the amendment of the Electoral Act will yield credible elections in the country while responding to questions from AIDOGHIE PAULINUS.

Having supported the Edo State governorship election adjudged by both local and international observers as the most credible in the country in recent time, how can the country replicate the feat in other states?

Well, thank you for the appreciation. I am glad that Edo went well, but remember that it is an off season election and it also suggests clearly that our main problem has been the decision to have all elections in one day across such a huge country with such decrepit and almost non-existence of infrastructure. It is clear to us that INEC’s capacity is improving and we can only hope that things get better, especially in the area of the reduction of the reliance on primitive human handling of what by now should be left to science. The longer we delay with amending the Act to allow INEC deploy technology, the less likely it is that we will escape the hands of those criminal manipulations who thrive in darkness and opacity.

Going by the contronversy trailing the Ondo election, observers believe that the Edo scenario was different from that of Ondo. What happened?

Every game is full of intrigues and the idea is for one group to outplay the other as long as they play by the rules. Ondo and Edo are two different environments even from the point of view of size and terrain. The Peace Committee has nothing else to do beyond its moral voice. So, there is nothing they have to put in place. All that matters is that they had supervised the covenant made by the contenders and the Sultan made reference to this in his speech.

From the look of things, are you hopeful of a peaceful, free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria?

We are hopeful of free, fair and credible elections everywhere in Nigeria. It is sad and shameful that Nigerian politicians continue to pull us back with their greedy smash and grab approach to a game that has clear rules. Ordinary Nigerians and the world remain embarrassed that a simple exercise that is willingly undertaken should create so much anxiety and lead to loss of lives and destruction. All politicians should heed the advice of former President Jonathan so that elections do not become a means of blood sacrifice.

In your recent outing at the Covenant Christian Centre in Lagos, you said you were not a happy Nigerian and that the President is making it difficult for Nigerians to celebrate diversity. What is the way forward? Is restructuring the way out?

I am sure that apart from a few people who are well placed to appropriate our resources, those who do not have to pay for electricity, fuel and so on, who is not sad in this country? There is nothing that I said that is strange. Our sense of national unity has never been more under threat than it is now and what I am saying is the thinking of majority of Nigerians across the land, including members of the ruling party. There is no need looking for a way forward until you know where you are first and we are in a bad hole. To move forward with digging is a disaster. It is time to pause and examine the state of the union because I am very afraid of the future.

You spoke about resetting the template. At 60, what new approach should the leaders and the people take in order to achieve a country that works in terms of federal character, and in the areas of infrastructure,  education, security, health etc?

There is nothing for me to restate in what I said as my message. The reactions I have received from Nigeria and abroad suggest that people share my views. There is nothing personal. This is our country. I am convinced that there is need for the President to pause because truly, we are not sure what time it is.

In your October 1 message, you spoke about the President not fulfilling his electoral promises. What is your recommendation to Nigerians in this regard?

You are a journalist and you, more than the rest of us, should know these promises. Your duty is to keep blowing the whistle to point at the fact that the promises are still unfulfilled, the Chibok girls are not home, Leah Sharibu has not been accounted for, the Boko Haram fight has become an enterprise, the military is demoralised and so on.

Are you hopeful that Nigeria will one day be at par with other super powers like the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, etc?

These are not good examples and we do not envy them. We will have to go and steal the resources of other countries, enslave other nations and make their sufferings the stepping stone to our national greatness. I do not know which aspect of these countries enchant you, the infrastructure or the weather?

Nigeria should have no ambition to be like any other country. Our destinies, values, cultures, aspirations and ambitions are different and God never planned for anyone to be like anyone, not to talk of nations. They are white, we are black, they eat chips and sandwiches, we eat pounded yam and jollof rice. We should measure our progress by how many of our people have full stomachs and stop trying to be like anyone.

 

BIZARRE! Cross River community where unborn baby girls are betrothed to aged men [THE NATION]

The lives and dignity of female children have been subjected to gross abuse in Becheve, a community in Obanliku Local Government Area, Cross River State, for ages. An age long traditional practice allows the betrothal of underage girls, including unborn ones, to men who in some cases are old enough to be their grandfathers.  The practice popularly known as money woman has not abated in spite of the adoption of the Child’s Rights Act by the state in 2009. Many innocent girls who are victims of the abusive practice are betrothed to their would-be husbands while they are still in their mothers’ wombs. Unfortunately, they are often denied access to basic education and treated as slaves by the aged hubbies. INNOCENT DURU reports that apart from the social deprivations they suffer, the hapless girls are dying from Vesico Virginal Fistula (VVF), among other health challenges.

             How men trade their innocent nieces into marriages to settle debts

             Why baby brides can’t break tradition –Monarch

             Victims denied basic education, regarded by in-laws as private property

             Health commissioner says they are dying in hundreds from VVF, other health challenges

It sounded like another Alice in the Wonderland tale, but Lovelyn (surname withheld) meant every word as she shared her ugly life experience. She was betrothed to an aged man while she was still in her mother’s womb and only escaped the servitude that would have been her lot by jumping out of the unholy arrangement.

“They told my mother while she was carrying my pregnancy that if I came out as a female child, I would be given out to the man as his wife,” said Lovelyn.

“It is no fiction; it is what happens in Becheve. As we speak, many innocent girls in the town are going through hell because of the practice, which they call money woman.”

Asked why her parents would agree to that kind of arrangement, Lovelyn said her father died a few days after she was born while her mother had no choice in the matter but comply with the agreement.

She said: “The betrothal process began immediately she gave birth to me, although I was still with my family. It was my mother’s family that gave me out to the man because my father had died a few days after I was born.

“My bride price was paid; I think it was about N40,000 or N50,000. The man was already above 60 years and going to 70. The only attraction is always the money. Once they see some small money, they will give their daughters out to the man that desires her.”

The smart girl that she was, Lovelyn had noticed how the practice had crippled the lives of many other girls around the community, so she began to plot her escape from the web of tradition she was entangled in if only to achieve her dream of going to school.

Recalling her escape from the forced marriage, she said: “When it was time for them to come and take me away, I made an arrangement with one Pastor Richard for my escape.

“I have many friends whose future was ruined by the practice. I remember Vivian, Charity, Jeniffer and Jacintha, to mention a few.

“Many girls who are only 14 or 15 years old are already giving birth from their forced marriages. Those of us that escaped with help from Pastor Richard have every reason to thank God.”

After her escape from Becheve, Lovelyn, who has since taken refuge in a Southwest state, was enrolled in a school. Now a senior secondary school (SSS) pupil, she says her ambition is to go to the university to study Law.

“I thank God that I can now read and write,” she said with a smile betraying excitement.

“I am in senior secondary school 2 going to SSS 3. If I had been married to the man, I would never have gone this far academically and my dream of going to a higher institution would have been dashed for life.

“I just thank God for using Pastor Richard to save me and others from their hands.”

But there is a part that still makes Lovelyn sad. She said while she is free, her elder sister is going through hell as a result of the traditional practice.

“She was a very brilliant girl and she had hoped to go far with her education, but she had her dream shattered when she was in primary three, as she was given out in marriage at that age.

“She is only 22 years old now, but she already has four children. She was married off at the age of 11. She had her first child at the age of 15.

“The man’s family had taken her away to Abuja when she was 11 and later brought her back to the man.

“There are many young girls who are not happy being in marriage but they cannot stop it. This is why we are calling on the government to help us stop the practice.”

Investigation conducted by our correspondent revealed that the case of Lovelyn has inspired many girls in the ugly arrangement to flee Becheve. One of them, Faith, who spoke from self-exile in a South-south state, recalled how she was given out as a replacement for a sister of hers who got married to another man before the man she was originally betrothed to could complete the payment of her dowry.

Faith said: “When my grandfather was still alive, he collected money from someone with a promise that he would give the man a wife. He later gave my aunt to the man. But when my grandfather died, the man stopped giving money to the family.

“My grandmother told the man not to worry; that even if my grandfather was dead, she was still there to continue the deal. She said she would give the man another wife if my aunt passed the age he was supposed to take her in as his wife.

“The man subsequently resumed giving her money. But before he could finish paying the dowry, my aunt was old enough to marry, so she got married to a man of her choice. My grandmother then asked our mother to give one of us out to the man and my mother gave him my elder sister.

“Unfortunately, my elder sister refused to go to him and my mother tricked me to go to the man while I was still very small.”

‘How I fled from my 70-yr-old husband at 13′

Recalling how she was tricked to the supposed hubby’s home, Faith said: “I remember that one morning, I was going to visit my aunt but my grandmother told me that we should go to the next village to see my uncle. I did not know that it was the man she was taking me to.

“She took me there around 7 pm. When we got there, I saw people celebrating. After staying there for some days, they made the little ones in the area to start playing with me so that I would not be feeling lonely.

“One morning, I followed them to the stream, but before I came back, my grandmother had left. I asked them about her and they told me that she left a message that I should wait for her; that she had gone to the next village and would pick me up on her way back. I stayed there for one and a half years.

“After some time, I started realising what was happening, because they were not treating me like one of them. When it was raining, I would be the one to go and fetch water. It was as if they always wanted to ensure that I was sad even when everyone else is happy. They told me that I didn’t have any rights there because they bought me with money and that I was like a goat.

“There was a day I came back from the ranch and met my brother who had come on a visit, and told him that I wanted to leave. I asked him to explain what was happening but he said he didn’t understand what I was talking about.

“He responded in that way because he knew that if he told me the truth, I would leave.

“There was a day it was raining and they sent me and the man’s daughter to go and fetch firewood. When we got to the farm, an issue came up and the man’s daughter told me she didn’t know why she followed me to the farm when I was supposed to be going to the farm alone.

“She went on to say that I was like a goat to them and that they had to use me anyhow they wanted. I told her I didn’t have anything to do with her and asked if she thought I was in their house for the father’s money.

“I went on to tell her that her father should go to my grandfather’s grave and wake him up to pay his money. We ended up fighting on that day. I packed my things the next day and left the house to go back to my parents.

“My mother accepted me back but my father refused to. He said he also did money woman and would not allow me to stay in the house and poison the mind of the girl he had married through the practice.

“From there I went to my aunt’s house, but my grandmother and my uncle went there and told her not to allow me to stay with her. So, they drove me away from there and I rented a house on my own. But they still went to the landlord, returned my money and sent me away.

“I ended up going back to the man’s house.

“At that point, his wife told him that the only thing that would make me stay in the house was for him to make me pregnant. So, one evening, I went into my room to sleep only to see the man lying on my bed. I left and went to the other bed to sleep but he asked me to come and sleep beside him.

“I told him I did not understand what he meant but he said I should understand that I was his wife. I told him God forbid that I would be wife to a man who was old enough to be my grandfather.  I was only 12, going to 13 then.

“As we engaged in a heated argument, he brought out a cane to flog me but I hit him with wood and ran into a forest. It was around 11 pm and to trek from there to my father’s house would take about six hours. Thereafter, I fled the state.

“He has not come for me since then, but I believe they are still giving him false hope that I will return to him. I was nine years old when my mother took me to the man who was in his 70s.”

Like Lovelyn, Faith is also in school and highly excited at the prospects of fulfilling her life desire.

“I am schooling now and have just completed my junior WAEC. I want to study Law when I get to the university. If the man had impregnated me, education would have been out of it,” Faith said.

Controversy dogs practice

While some community leaders who spoke with our correspondent said the practice has been phased out after vigorous protestations from the youth, Pastor Richard Akonam of Rich Grace Foundation, who some girls said assisted them to escape early marriages, said the practice was still going on till date.

The Clan Head of Becheve, HRH Onum Sunday Ichile, said: “It used to be the practice here in Becheve. But in the 90s, the youths came out to say the practice was not proper; that it was affecting the education of the children.

“The youths came out and said no to it, insisting that we could not be forcing girls to get married to men that that are not their choice. That is the situation now.”

Corroborating Ichile’s views, the Paramount Ruler of Obanliku, HRM, Item Amos, said: “In those days, it was the pride of any man to have that kind of wife. But with exposure and agitations by the youths, the women started looking into the issue.

“The information got to the traditional rulers and we also looked at the negative aspects of it. As I am talking with you now, we have phased it out.  We have put down rules and regulations to guard against it.

“But we still have a challenge: some parents who betrothed the girls are late and may be do not have anybody to pay back what the man had paid. If those things are not returned, the man may go mystical and cause the girl some ailment that she may not be able to treat.

“We want a situation where individuals and governments would come to our aid and make some money available to us so that in a situation where a particular family cannot pay back, we can go in and see how we can assist the family to clear the debts and free the woman.

“That is the challenge we have now.”

Asked how many girls were stuck, the monarch said: “We are trying to come up with statistics so that we would know those who can pay back and those who cannot.

“The money paid as bride price in some cases is much because the parents keep collecting money from the man. If they start from when the child is small, they will look at the pieces of kolanuts, goats, yams, and so on.”

On his part, Pastor Akonam strongly disagreed with claims that the practice had been phased out.

He said: “I believe that the state government will wake up to do something about it, because when you speak to the leadership of the community or of the tribe, they will tell you that the practice no longer exists. But when you dig deeper, you will find that it is still very much in operation.”

He went further to narrate how his foundation recently rescued some of the girls, saying: “We have been able to rescue some of the girls and sent them to skill acquisition centres. Some of them are on scholarship now. We are networking with some organisations that are helping some of them.

“One of the girls we rescued two years ago was only seven years old. Two of her sisters had been given out in that manner. One died at the age of 14 without a child, so they gave the man a replacement, but she also died at the age of 12. So they came for the third girl who was only seven years old. Thank God we rescued her and she is in school now.

“There is one right now whose husband died when she was six years old. Just two weeks ago, the family of the man went to bundle the girl who is between 15 and 16 years now. They are transferring her to the man’s next of kin. It is a funny practice but you know it is something that is planted in the culture and tradition. We are also looking at the natives themselves getting involved in speaking against the practice. Unfortunately, even those who are backing us do not want their voices to be heard.  They don’t want their faces to show for fear of being killed.”

Speaking on the sums paid as bride price, Akonam said: “Each case is different. We have had a man who sold his daughter for N10,000. Another one sold his for N20,000 and we redeemed that one with N50, 000.

“The reason is that once the marriage is contracted, each time the family of the girl visits the man, whatever he gives to them as kola, he attaches some cost to it. While the girl was sold for N20,000, the mother, the uncle and so on had also visited the man. So all the things they were give during the visits brought that money to N50,000.

“While the man is giving things to the in-laws, he records whatever he gives. But the in-laws who are receiving don’t keep records of what they collect.

“The girls are at the centre of this wickedness. None of the money is spent to take care of them. The money is only spent to service the family. The girl will have to labour and provide care for the man. It is a crazy thing.

“Most of the men take their wives while they are still young, because when they grow, it becomes difficult for them to take them to their houses. The ministry of health in some instances has helped some of those girls.  Some don’t suffer from VVF but some do and they are being treated.”

Types of marriages practised in Becheve

Akonam said the Becheves have two basic types of marriages. One, he said, is where two consenting adults can live together for as long as they want.

He said: “Dowries are not paid in that respect and every child born in the marriage belongs to the family of the girl. The brother of the girl can decide to take the sister’s child and sell. The father of the child does not have a say in that; neither does the woman have a say.

“We have had instances where a woman’s younger brother was owing and could not pay and had to sell his sister’s daughter just to be able to pay the his debt.

“Money marriage, which is the second type of marriage, is where a man goes out on his own to buy a girl so that the children will be his children. If the girl happens to have female children, the man can as well sell to another man.

“Even if he decides to pimp his wife, it is nobody’s business, because she is his property.  And if the girl dies without having a child, the family of the girl must bring a replacement.”

 

Osinbajo to #EndSARS protesters: let’s win back your trust [THE NATION]

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has appealed to #ENDSARS protesters to allow government regain their trust.

He said several steps were being taken to redress many of their grievances, which he said were clearly beyond disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

Osinbajo, in a series of tweets, late Friday night, said: “Dear Nigerians, I know that many of you are angry, and understandably so.

“We could’ve moved faster and for this we are sorry. I fully understand how many young people feel.

“Many feel that we have been too silent and have simply not done enough. These feelings of frustration are justified.

“There are far too many people who have been brutalised at the hands of the police and this is unacceptable.

“We must take responsibility for protecting young people, even sometimes from those who are paid to protect them.

“Over the past week, we have been following the protests, and I have had a number of discussions with key people in the administration that you deserve to be informed about. Transparency, after all, is a key tenet of government.”

Osinbajo further stated that work was ongoing especially with the setting up of judicial panels of inquiry so that justice can be served fast.

“We understand that you want to see action from us and I’m here to tell you that work is ongoing.

“I chaired a meeting of 36 state governors and the Minister of the FCT (NEC), where we resolved to set up judicial panels of inquiry so we can see justice served, and fast.

“The reason being that only state governors, by law, can set up judicial inquiries in their states. The hearings will be public.”

Recruitment: IGP files 20 fresh grounds of appeal at Supreme Court over recruitment of 10,000 constables [THE NATION]

The Inspector-General of Police, IGP Mohammed Adamu, has filed 20 new grounds of appeal against the September 30, 2020 judgment of the Court of Appeal which nullified the recruitment of 10,000 constables.

The fresh notice of appeal filed at the Supreme Court, on Thursday, incorporates the earlier one containing only three grounds of appeal filed earlier filed by the IGP, the Nigeria Police Force, and the Federal Ministry of Police Affairs, on October 2.

The appellants had through their lawyer, Alex Izinyon (SAN), filed along with their original notice of appeal, an application urging the Supreme Court to order the stay of execution of the judgment of the Court of Appeal.

The three-man panel of the Court of Appeal led by Justice Olabisi Ige, had in the contested judgment, unanimously held that the IGP and the NPF lacked the power to recruit the constables.

The panel held that the power to carry out the recruitment was exclusively that of the Police Service Commission (PSC).

The appeal court not only set aside the earlier judgment of the Federal High Court, Abuja, which had validated the IGP’s power of recruitment, it also nullified the ongoing recruitment of the 10,000 constables carried out by the IGP.

In their new notice of appeal with 20 grounds filed, on Thursday, the appellants’ lawyer argued that the power of the NPF and the IGP to enlist the recruit constables was distinct from the power of the PSC to appoint them.

He faulted the Court of Appeal’s decision that the Nigeria Police Regulations 1968 conferring the power of “enlistment of recruit constables” conferred on the NPF was inconsistent with the Nigerian Constitution.

He maintained that Section 71 of the Police Regulation 1968 was not synonymous with the power of “appointment” used in the Nigerian Constitution or the Police Service Commission (Establishment) Act.

“The power to enlist recruit constables conferred on the 1st appellant (NPF) is distinct and not the same function conferred on the first respondent (PSC),” Izinyon argued.

He added that the procedure for the enlistment of recruit constables was specifically provided in section 76 – 106 of the Nigeria Police Regulations, adding that the PSC “is not conferred with absolute power or any power howsoever described to enlist recruit constables into the 1st appellant (NPF)”.

 

Five killed as #EndSARS protests turn bloody in Lagos, Edo, Ondo [THE NATION]

Suspected hoodlums on Friday swooped on #EndSARS/SWAT protesters in Benin, killing two protesters.

Another protester was killed in Akure when a car rammed into protesters also on Friday.

But it was the other way round at Ikola, a Lagos suburb, on Thursday when a suspected protester smashed her car into a tricycle, killing two of its occupants.

The police said the suspect’s driving was reckless. Several people were injured in the three incidents.

The Nation reports that the protests continued in many parts of the country yesterday.

It was particularly intense on the Lagos/Ibadan expressway where the protesters blocked the road to traffic, and Abuja where youths barricaded the Abuja city gate and the airport road, leaving motorists and commuters in severe agony.

Elder statesman and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Afe Babalola, called for an immediate dialogue between the federal government and the youths with a view to finding a solution to the lingering crisis.

He warned that delay in resolving the issue on time could be dangerous.

And the man who was instrumental to the setting up of the now disbanded anti-robbery squad in 1984, Mr. Fulani Kwajafa, says he now feels “sad” and “guilty” about what the agency turned out to become.

“SARS of today is not the same SARS I established in 1984,” Kwajafa told the BBC.

One of the Benin victims, identified as Ikpomwosa, was shot. The name of the other victim was not immediately available. He was macheted.

The hoodlums, who were mostly in red tee-shirts, struck  at Ring Road, close to the Oba of Benin Palace.

Eye witnesses said the hoodlums claimed the protesters prevented them from making money from their daily issuance of tickets to commercial drivers.

The other protesters scampered to safety and then regrouped and continued moving round Benin and its environs.

They terminated the protest at Government House.

We gathered that injured protesters were treated at the nearby Edo State Government-owned Central Hospital, Benin.

Ikpomwosa’s body was taken away in an ambulance   while the other deceased was taken away by some of the protesters.

One of the protesters, Efosa Igbinoba, said: “We started the protest from Sapele Road, Benin, but on getting to Ring Road in the state capital, hoodlums suddenly appeared with cutlasses, guns and other dangerous weapons and they attacked us, thereby disrupting the protest, but we quickly regrouped.

“We are demanding police reformation. We are undeterred. We will continue with the protest, until the police are reformed.”

A furious Governor Godwin Obaseki condemned the attack and charged security agencies to ensure that protesters were adequately protected.

He said: “I have just learnt that hoodlums have attacked #ENDSARS protesters, who have conducted themselves peacefully in Benin City. I extend condolences to the victims of the attacks, including those who lost their lives and others who were injured by the thugs.

“It is disheartening that anyone would attack a peaceful assembly of young people who are expressing genuine concerns over police brutality and intimidation in their own country.”

Edo State Government gives security agencies 24 hours to fish out killers of the protesters.

Addressing the protesters at the Kings Square in Benin City, Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu, said the government will not fold its arms and watch harm come the way of young people exercising their rights as citizens of the country.

He said he had directed security agencies to “fish out those behind the attack.”

He added: “The police, the Department of State Security (DSS) and other security agencies have been ordered to bring to book those guys that harassed you and killed that young man.”

 

Despite talks, FG sends delegates to varsities for IPPIS capturing –ASUU [PUNCH]

Indications emerged on Friday that the faceoff between the Federal Government and the striking members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities may not end soon.

Despite the ongoing discussions between the two, ASUU said the government had sent officials from the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation to commence enrolment of lecturers on the controversial Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System.

Saturday PUNCH reported that despite offers of N20bn to cater for the revitalisation of public universities and another commitment of N40bn for Earned Academic Allowances, ASUU had remained adamant that they would not enlist in the IPPIS scheme.

On March 23, ASUU declared a “total and indefinite strike” over the failure of the Federal Government to keep to the 2019 Memorandum of Action and over the lingering crisis on the IPPIS.

The union had brought forward five contentious issues in the 2019 MoA which are; revitalisation fund for universities, outstanding earned academic allowances, renegotiation of the 2009 agreement, proliferation of universities, particularly by state governments and establishment of visitation panels to universities.

The IPPIS crisis had joined in around October 2019, after the union accused some vice-chancellors of forcing its members to enrol on the IPPIS platform.

The union also in November 2019 berated the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation for threatening to withhold the salaries of its members over IPPIS, adding that it would not be moved by such threats. ASUU has also insisted on having an alternative model to IPPIS, called the University Transparency and Accountability Solution, which it urged the Federal Government to adopt for the universities.

The ASUU President, Prof Biodun Ogunyemi, in a memo sent to the zone coordinators and members of the union on Friday titled, “Update on engagement with government”, advised members of the union to “stay away from anything related to IPPIS.”

He said, “We have received information that IPPIS officials from the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation will be visiting campuses as from Monday, October 19, 2020, for biometric data capture of academics.

“All ASUU members should have nothing to do with them. Fact-check by ASUU with the figures from the OAGF has proven the claim that our members are trooping to enrol in the IPPIS in Abuja as false.

“The enrolled number is inconsequential. On Monday, October 12, 2020, UTAS was presented to the President and other leaders of the Nigerian Senate.

“Discussions on the withheld salaries, Earned Academic Allowance, renegotiation of 2009 agreement, visitation to federal Universities and proliferation of state universities started at the meeting.

“On Tuesday, October 13, 2020, the Senate President, Deputy Senate President, Senate Leader, Chairman of Senate Committee on Tertiary Education, Minister of Education, Minister of Labour and Employment, Accountant-General of the Federation, among other government officials, met with the ASUU leadership on UTAS and other matters.” Ogunyemi added that members must therefore “stay away” from the IPPIS so as not to jeopardise the ongoing engagement with the Federal Government.

Reign of terror: How SARS men robbed, maimed us, killed our loved ones –Victims, relations [PUNCH]

As teeming youths across the country protest against police brutality, some Nigerians have lamented their unsavoury experiences and extrajudicial killings of their loved ones at the hands of operatives of the now defunct Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigeria Police Force.

In separate interviews with Saturday PUNCH, some Nigerians shared their experiences on the overzealous behaviour of the SARS officers.

An entrepreneur, Solomon Obodeh, spoke about how his younger brother, Benson Obodeh, in Benin City, Edo State, was allegedly killed by SARS men in 2015.

According to Solomon, as of the time of Benson’s death, he was a student and car dealer.

“He was picked up from his house on May 21, 2015 by officers of SARS. Four of them came into Benin City, Edo State, from Ikeja, Lagos, on the suspicion that they tracked a phone to a mechanic, whose name was Evans and who happened to be my younger brother’s mechanic that helped him repair cars.

“In the course of torture, seeing that he was about to die, they collected his house key, car and the N200,000 my in-law gave him to deposit in the bank on the day he was arrested.

“The SARS officers collected that money but that wasn’t enough; they still collected his ATM card and the PIN. There was N332,000 in his account. They withdrew a total of N330,000 from the account,” he said.

A hairstylist, Mrs Hannah Olugbodi, who was shot by SARS operatives on June 6, 2018, also noted that though she had undergone three operations, she could not walk without crutches.

Olugbodi’s husband, Seun, also told one of our correspondents that they had fallen into debt after spending N1.5m, though she had to undergo additional surgical procedures.

Similarly, many people have been giving accounts of how they or their loved ones were brutalised or killed by SARS.

For instance, on Twitter, Obi Joseph whose handle is @obijoseph_c, shared screenshots of a WhatsApp status of a loved one, saying, “OmakaChukwu Henry, my senior brother, was one of SARS’ victims. He was a final-year student of Marketing Department, Ebonyi State University. He was killed by SARS on June 14, 2013.

“SARS made my dad sign a document that he would never ask what killed his first son in his lifetime before he could (collect) his remains for our family. He was buried on December 14, 2013. After that year, my dad had a stroke that he suffered for seven years before he died, and never asked how his son was killed – the child of his youth.”

Somto Onuchukwu, whose handle is @chosensomto, also lamented the death of a loved one identified as Chijioke Illoanya, who was allegedly killed by a SARS operative.

Onuchukwu said, “A former OC SARS, Awkuzu (Anambra State), killed Chijioke Illoanya, and told his parents to their faces that ‘Nothing will happen.’ If nothing happens to him (SARS operative), then we protested for nothing. I call on all Nigerians to retweet and tweet until we get Justice!”

Tammy Halliday, with the handle @tammyhalliday_, also posted a photo of a protester, saying, “We have all stereotyped him. DJ Kaka schooled in Ghana. SARS killed his twin, made him spend 54 months in prison, took his car, and almost killed him too after they killed his twin. He was allowed to do his thing in the protest; he had such a free spirit that he could share anything.”

Chidiogo, whose handle is @bkinetix, tweeted, “I remember years ago, my cousin bought a car without prior knowledge that it had been stolen. SARS Awka arrested, tortured and forced him to make a confession that he was an armed robber. They showed us the confession on video and told us he had been killed (that it was their new order).

“They came to our house to search for a gun, as they claimed he kept one. He was living with us at that time. We cried, but his family eventually called one or two influential people. Guess the biggest shock. He was not dead after all! According to him, they took them to an unknown forest, while blindfolded.

“In the midst of this forest was a building with lots of young men, who were summoned and killed one after the other. He wasn’t quite sure if it was only for organ harvesting and/or rituals! Young men are kidnapped or killed by SARS and trafficked!”

The tweeter stated that their cousin was traumatised and forced to leave Awka.

Another Twitter user, whose handle is @ChargieKosowo, said, “SARS killed my cousin, early 2019. She was 33, had a husband and two children. They left her body in their pickup, under the rain, for hours. This happened on Eric Moore Road (Surulere, Lagos State). She was just going home to meet her kids. I miss you, Ronke.”

@finebold said, “Today (Friday) marks 10 years since SARS took my cousin who was 15 years old, saying he stole. Before we could get to Esige Police Station, Benin, we were told that he had been killed and buried. The only evidence we got was his slippers on the supposed grave.

“This same police station arrested other young boys and me, aged 11 to 17. Our only offence was going to a game store on our street to play PlayStation 1 and 3.”

On February 22, 2020, 22-year-old Remo Stars Football Club defender, Tiamiyu Kazeem, aka Kaka, was reportedly crushed by a hit-and-run driver on the Sagamu-Abeokuta Expressway while being taken to the SARS office on Saturday.

While the police claimed he jumped out of the vehicle and was crushed by an oncoming vehicle, an eyewitness, Sanni Abubakar, said he was pushed out.

Also, a graduate, Ifeoma Abugu, on September 10, was allegedly murdered four days after her ‘introduction’ by SARS men, who whisked her away after storming the residence of her fiancé, Afam Ugwunwa, at Wumba village in the Lokogoma area of Abuja to arrest him.

In the same vein, a video went viral on October 3, in which eyewitnesses said FSARS operatives allegedly shot a young man in front of a hotel in Ughelli, Delta State and drove his SUV away, sparking nationwide outrage.

Two days later, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo expressed anger over the actions of some policemen, especially those attached to SARS, whom he accused of harassing and, sometimes, maiming and killing Nigerians nationwide.

But the Public Relations Officer of the Nigeria Police Force, DCP Frank Mba, said SARS could not be scrapped because of the ongoing fight against crimes in the country.

Thousands of youths flooded cities across the country, calling for justice against power-drunk and trigger-happy policemen. The public outcry gained global attention with Nigerian and international celebrities, including Kanye West, John Boyega and Trey Songz, supporting the #EndSARS protests on social media.

The demonstrations received a boost from Nigerians in the Diaspora who took to the streets in the United States, United Kingdom, South Africa and Canada, among others, to protest police brutality and demand police reforms.

In response, the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, on October 11, announced the disbandment of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigeria Police Force, adding that the operatives would be redeployed to other police formations and commands.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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