Nigeria’s First Female Combat Helicopter Pilot, Arotile, Dies At 23

A photo combination of Flying Officers Kafayat Sanni (L) and Tolulope Arotile taken on October 15, 2019. Photos: Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun.

 

Flying Officer, Tolulope Arotile is dead, eight months after she was commissioned as Nigeria’s first female combat helicopter pilot.

This was contained in a statement signed by Air Force spokesman, Ibikunle Daramola, and obtained by Channels Television on Wednesday.

She was just 23.

“It is with great sorrow that the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) regretfully announces the unfortunate demise of Flying Officer Tolulope Arotile, who died today, 14 July 2020, as a result of head injuries sustained from a road traffic accident at NAF Base Kaduna,” the statement read.

READ ALSO: Nigerian Air Force Wings First Female Fighter And Combat Pilots, Others

“Until her death, ‪Flying Officer Arotile, who was commissioned into the NAF in September 2017 as a member of Nigerian Defence Academy Regular Course 64, was the first-ever female combat helicopter pilot in the Service. During her short but impactful stay in the Service, late Arotile, who hailed from Iffe in Ijumu Local Government Area of Kogi State, contributed significantly to the efforts to rid the North Central States of armed bandits and other criminal elements by flying several combat missions under Operation GAMA AIKI in Minna, Niger State.

“The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, on behalf officers, airmen, airwomen and civilian staff of the NAF, commiserates with the family of late ‪Flying Officer Arotile over this irreparable loss. We pray that the Almighty God grants her soul eternal rest.”

In October 2019, Channels Television had reported how Arotile was commissioned along with 12 others, including Kafayat Sanni, the country’s first female fighter pilot.

Moderna’s COVID-19 Vaccine Set For Final Trial Stage After ‘Promising’ Results

Moderna's COVID-19 Vaccine Set For Final Trial Stage After 'Promising' Results
In this file photo taken on May 18, 2020, a syringe is pictured on an illustration representation of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Photo: JOEL SAGET / AFP

 

The US biotech firm Moderna said Tuesday it would enter the final stage of its human trials for its COVID-19 vaccine on July 27, after promising early results were published in a journal.

The Phase 3 trial will recruit 30,000 participants in the US, with half to receive the vaccine at 100 microgram dose levels, and the other half will receive a placebo.

It is designed to learn whether the vaccine can prevent infection by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, or, if people still get infected, whether it can prevent the infection progressing toward symptoms.

If they do get symptoms, the vaccine can still be considered a success if it stops severe cases of COVID-19.

The study should run until October 27, according to its page on clinicaltrials.gov.

The announcement came after the New England Journal of Medicine on Tuesday published results from the first stage of Moderna’s vaccine trial, which showed the first 45 participants all developed antibodies to the virus.

This file photo shows medical workers in Abuja preparing to test Nigerians for COVID-19. As of July 15, the pandemic had infected 33,616 and a total of over 13.2 million people globally, killing over 575,000 people.

 

Moderna is in pole position in the global race to find a vaccine against the coronavirus, which has infected more than 13.2 million people and killed 570,000.

China’s SinoVac is also at an advanced stage, Phase 2, while the Russian news agency TASS has announced Russian researchers have completed clinical trials on a vaccine, though they have not shared data.

Scientists caution that the first vaccines to come to market may not be the most effective or safest.



The Moderna vaccine belongs to a new class of vaccine that uses genetic material, in the form of RNA, to encode the information needed to grow the virus’ spike protein inside the human body, in order to trigger an immune response.

The spike protein is a part of the virus it uses to invade human cells, but by itself is relatively harmless.

The advantage of this technology is that it bypasses the need to manufacture viral proteins in the lab, shaving months off the standardization process and helping to ramp up mass production.

But no vaccines based on this platform have previously received regulatory approval.

AFP

US Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg, 87, Hospitalised

US Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg, 87, Hospitalised
In this file photo taken on November 30, 2018, Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg poses for the official photo at the Supreme Court in Washington, DC.  Photo: MANDEL NGAN / AFP

 

United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the 87-year-old anchor of its liberal faction, has been hospitalised for a suspected infection, the court said on Tuesday.

Ginsburg was admitted to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore early Tuesday after first going to her regular Washington hospital late Monday with fever and chills.

She underwent an endoscopic procedure Tuesday afternoon “to clean out a bile duct stent that was placed last August,” the court said in a statement.

Ginsburg “is resting comfortably and will stay in the hospital for a few days to receive intravenous antibiotic treatment.”

One of four liberals among the nine justices, Ginsburg’s health is closely watched as Donald Trump’s administration seeks an opportunity to appoint a new justice who would tilt the court solidly in a conservative direction, potentially shifting US law and social policy for decades.

Supreme Court justices serve until they die or voluntarily retire, and Ginsburg has clung to her position despite her age aware that if she leaves it could change the landscape of US justice.

Ginsburg has been an Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court (pictured) for almost three decades. She took the oath of office on August 10, 1993.

 

Together with the centrist Chief Justice John Roberts, the four liberals have prevented a reversal of longstanding abortion rights, stronger executive powers for the president, and greater involvement of religion in public life.

Hugely popular with Democrats, the unintentional social media icon is fondly known as “The Notorious RBG,” a riff on slain rapper The Notorious B.I.G.

She has been hospitalized several times in recent years, including for two days in May to be treated for a benign gallbladder infection.

But her hospital stays have always seen her actively participating in court activities by teleconference.

It was not clear if she took part in court discussions overnight Monday on emergency petitions over the resumption of federal executions as a convicted murderer awaited on death row in an Indiana prison.

The court ruled five to four in favor of going ahead, and hours later the murderer, Daniel Lee, was put to death, in the first federal execution in 17 years.

AFP

UN Condemns Violence In North Darfur

In this file photo, The United Nations flag is seen during the Climate Action Summit 2019 at the United Nations General Assembly Hall on September 23, 2019, in New York City. Ludovic MARIN / AFP.

 

The joint United Nations and African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) condemned Tuesday “violent incidents” in North Darfur state which left nine dead and 20 wounded.

“UNAMID is deeply concerned about the violent incidents that erupted in Kutum town on 12 July and the attack by unidentified armed men on the Fata Borno IDP (internally displaced people) camp on the morning of 13 July 2020 which left 9 IDPs dead and 20 injured,” the peacekeeping mission said in a statement.

“It is regrettable that these incidents have taken place while the transitional government of Sudan and the armed movements are close to concluding negotiations expected to bring peace and stability… to the Darfur region and the whole of Sudan,” it added.

Darfur has long been plagued by poor security and armed groups.

North Darfur (Shamal Darfur is the largest of the five states that make up Sudan’s Darfur region

 

 

In 2003, a deadly ethnic conflict broke out in Darfur between African minority rebels and forces backed by the government of ex-president Omar al-Bashir, who was ousted in April 2019.

Bashir is wanted by The Hague-based International Criminal Court over charges of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity in Darfur.

The United Nations says the conflict killed 300,000 people and displaced 2.5 million.

Sudan’s current transitional government, comprised of military and civilian figures led by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok since last year, has engaged in talks with three key rebel groups to reach a peace deal to end the wars in Darfur, the Blue Nile and South Kordofan.

A signing ceremony with various rebel factions slated for Tuesday was delayed once again.

In the wake of the recent unrest, North Darfur’s governor announced a state of emergency on Monday.

AFP

Zambia Denies Accusations Its President Sponsored Rwandan Rebels

Zambia’s President, Edgar Lungu, (pictured) was accused of supporting “rebel attacks to remove Rwandan President Paul Kagame from power.

 

Zambia’s government on Tuesday rejected claims President Edgar Lungu had bankrolled a Rwandan rebel leader accused of orchestrating deadly attacks in his country’s border regions.

The claims were made by the rebel chief, Callixte Nsabimana, who is on trial for terrorism and other charges. He has already admitted to working with other foreign governments against Rwanda.

During his latest hearing on Monday, Nsabimana told a Rwandan High court that Lungu had promised his National Liberation Front (FLN) $1 million to help oust the administration in Kigali.

He said Lungu had made a down payment of $150,000 in support of “rebel attacks to remove President Paul Kagame from power”.

Zambia is surrounded by the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, and Angola. It is 1,258 kilometres away from Rwanda. Image: www.distancefromto.net

In a statement Tuesday the Zambian presidency said it “would like to categorically refute these claims”.

It stated “unequivocally that these allegations are false and must be treated with the contempt they deserve”.

“The governments and peoples of Zambia and Rwanda continue to enjoy strong and fraternal relations founded on mutual respect,” said the statement from presidential spokesman Isaac Chipambe.

Nsabimana, also known as “Sankara” has in previous hearings named Burundi and Uganda as supporters of the rebel activities against Rwanda.

The rebel commander is charged with terrorism, treason, incitement violence, murder and kidnap among other charges.

AFP

Epstein’s Ex-Girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell Denies Committing Sex Crimes

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell at a New York function in 2005
Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell at a New York function in 2005. Photo: AFP

 

British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell pleaded not guilty in a New York court Tuesday to sex trafficking minors for her former partner, the late financier Jeffrey Epstein, as a judge denied her bail.

The 58-year-old denied six charges related to alleged crimes committed by Epstein, a well-connected sex offender who killed himself in prison while awaiting trial last summer.

Maxwell appeared in a Manhattan federal court via video link from Brooklyn’s high-security Metropolitan Detention Center, where she is being held following her arrest earlier this month.

Prosecutors accuse Maxwell, daughter of the late newspaper baron Robert Maxwell, of helping Epstein “recruit, groom and ultimately abuse” multiple underage girls.

The alleged crimes occurred between 1994 and 1997, and relate to three women — one of whom was just 14 when she was sexually abused, according to the indictment.

Maxwell allegedly befriended the girls with shopping and movie theater outings, and later coaxed them into giving Epstein nude massages during which he would engage in sex acts.

Prosecutors say Maxwell sometimes participated in the alleged abuse — which occurred at her London home and at Epstein properties in Manhattan, Palm Beach, and New Mexico.

They allege she “persuaded, induced, enticed and coerced” minor victims to travel across US state lines and abroad for the purpose of the illegal sex acts.

Maxwell has been charged with four counts relating to the trafficking, including transporting a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity.

She also faces two counts of perjury for allegedly lying about the claims during a 2016 civil lawsuit.

Maxwell could serve up to 35 years in prison if convicted.

‘Sexual predator’

Judge Alison Nathan set July 12, 2021 as the opening date of Maxwell’s trial, ordering the former jet-setter remain detained without bail for the next year.

The decision came despite pleas from her defense team, which insisted she was not a flight risk and argued for home confinement in New York with GPS monitoring.

They argued the coronavirus crisis would put her health at “serious risk” if she remained incarcerated.

But prosecutors continued articulating that she poses an “extreme” flight risk, pointing out that she has passports from the United States, Britain and France as well as wealth and an international circle.

Maxwell also is a citizen of France, they say, which does not extradite dual citizens.

Prosecutors claim to have identified 15 bank accounts associated with Maxwell recently, with their total balance at one point exceeding $20 million.

They said it appears she is shielding assets and used an alias to buy the secluded New Hampshire luxury property where she was arrested on July 2.

They reiterated that agents had to breach the front door of that residence to detain her, also saying she used foil to wrap her phone in a bid to evade authorities.

“She has not earned the court’s trust,” said federal prosecutor Alison Moe.

Alleged victim Annie Farmer dubbed Maxwell a “sexual predator” in arguing against bail in a statement to the court, as another complainant said the defendant’s “sole purpose is that of self-preservation.”

“She will never admit what she’s done,” she said.

Spotlight on Andrew

Epstein’s accusers have for years alleged that Maxwell managed a network of women who recruited young girls into a trafficking scheme he ran. She has always denied this.

After Epstein hanged himself in a New York cell last August ahead of his trial on sex-trafficking charges, prosecutors vowed to pursue any possible co-conspirators.

Epstein, 66, was a multi-million-dollar hedge fund manager who befriended countless celebrities over the years, including Bill Clinton and Britain’s Prince Andrew.

Maxwell’s arrest has intensified the spotlight on Andrew, who vehemently denies claims he had sex with a 17-year-old girl procured by Epstein.

Epstein was convicted in Florida in 2008 of paying young girls for massages, but served just 13 months in jail under a secret plea deal struck with the then state prosecutor.

While his death was ruled a suicide, it has fueled conspiracy theories, most speculating he was murdered to stop him from revealing compromising information about wealthy acquaintances.

AFP

Judge Rejects Civil Settlement For Weinstein Victims

A file photo of a court gavel.
District Judge Alvin Hellerstein on Tuesday rejected a controversial deal to settle Harvey Weinstein’s victims.

 

A US federal judge in New York on Tuesday rejected a proposed civil settlement that would have created a nearly $19 million fund for dozens of women who suffered sexual misconduct and harassment at the hands of Harvey Weinstein.

The proposed deal had been announced last month by New York state’s attorney general, putting an end to both a class action suit and a separate case brought against Weinstein, his brother Bob and their former film studio The Weinstein Company.

Despite the attorney general’s approval of the settlement, District Judge Alvin Hellerstein on Tuesday rejected the deal, which had been contested by several of Weinstein’s victims.

Notably, the disgraced Hollywood mogul was not to be required to admit any responsibility for his actions, nor was he expected to contribute any of his own money to the fund.

Attorney Douglas Wigdor — whose clients include Tarale Wulff, a former cocktail waitress who alleged that Weinstein raped her in his New York apartment in 2005 — had described the deal as “a complete sellout.”

“We have been saying for over a year and a half that the settlement terms and conditions were unfair and should never be imposed on sexual assault survivors,” Wigdor and two other attorneys representing victims said in a statement.

The trio said they were “pleased that Judge Hellerstein swiftly rejected the one-sided proposal.”

John Clune, an attorney for another alleged victim, quoted Hellerstein as saying: “This is not a class action.”

Lawyers representing several women were angry that survivors who did not want to accept the settlement would have been prevented from pursuing other legal avenues.

Disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein is currently serving a 23-year prison term. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP

 

In February, Weinstein was found guilty of a criminal sexual act in the first degree and rape in the third degree in a landmark verdict for the #MeToo movement.

He is currently serving 23 years in prison.

The lengthy sentence capped a remarkable downfall for the 68-year-old, who has been accused of years of vile predatory behavior by almost 90 women, including Angelina Jolie and Salma Hayek.

This fund was seen by some of the parties as possibly the best settlement his accusers would ever reach.

AFP

Biden Unveils Ambitious Climate Plan In Contrast With Trump

Biden Unveils Ambitious Climate Plan In Contrast With Trump
Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a “Build Back Better” Clean Energy event on Tuesday, July 14, 2020, at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware.
Olivier DOULIERY / AFP

 

White House hopeful Joe Biden on Tuesday unveiled an ambitious climate change plan that would revamp the United States energy sector and seek to achieve carbon pollution-free power in just 15 years.

The clean energy proposal was fleshed out in a speech in Wilmington as the veteran Democrat aimed to draw a contrast with President Donald Trump ahead of November’s election by arguing that fighting climate change would be a massive job creator under a Biden administration.

“Transforming the American electrical sector to produce power without producing carbon pollution… will be the greatest spurring of job creation and economic competitiveness in the 21st century,” Biden said.

“That’s why we’re going to achieve a carbon pollution-free electric sector by the year 2035.”

The plan includes more ambitious goals than the climate proposal he rolled out months ago when he ran as one of the more moderate Democratic candidates in the party’s nomination race.

By embracing some of the ideas of his more liberal rivals at the time, including Senator Bernie Sanders and Washington Governor Jay Inslee, Biden appears intent on winning over progressive voters who might be wary of the former vice president and longtime Washington staple.

Biden pledged to spend $2 trillion over four years to promote his plan, according to The Washington Post, a dramatic acceleration of the $1.7 trillion he had proposed to spend over 10 years in his climate plan during the primary race.

He also said he would rejoin the Paris climate agreement that Trump pulled the US out of in 2017, fund the construction of 1.5 million new energy-efficient homes, upgrade appliance standards and prioritize renewable energy.

“We’re not just going to tinker around the edges,” Biden said.

“I know meeting the challenge will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to jolt new life into our economy.”

Biden Unveils Ambitious Climate Plan In Contrast With Trump
President Donald Trump’s position on climate change is in contrast with that of Democratic rival Biden. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP

 

Biden said he would reverse some 100 steps taken by Trump to roll back environmental regulations.

He also reiterated parts of his earlier climate proposal, one with goals shared by House Democratic leaders including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, that would put the nation on the road to net-zero emissions economy-wide no later than 2050.

And aside from attacking Trump on his failure to contain the coronavirus pandemic, he savaged the president and his party for lacking vision and focusing on old technologies like oil.

“This is all that Donald Trump and the Republicans offer: backward-looking policies that will harm the environment, make communities less healthy, hold back economic promise while other countries race ahead,” Biden said.

Biden leads Trump on most issues, according to polling, but voters still see the president as stronger on steering the US economy.

AFP

Senate Recommends Life Imprisonment For Kidnappers, Removes Time Limit On Rape Cases

Lawmakers during plenary at the Senate chamber in Abuja February 12, 2020. Photo: [email protected]

 

The Senate has amended the Criminal Code Act which recommends life imprisonment for kidnappers and deletes the statute of limitations on cases of rape.

Section 218 of the Criminal Code Act (amended) removing the statute of limitations implies that the defilement cases can remain open for as long as possible against the earlier limitation of two months.

The Criminal Code Act Cap. C38 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 (Amendment) Bill, 2019 (SB.02) was sponsored by Distinguished Senator Oluremi Tinubu (Lagos Central Senatorial District) on September 24, 2019.

READ ALSO: Senate Passes Criminal Code Bill, Seeks Protection Of Mentally Challenged Persons

The Senate on Tuesday also eliminated the gender restrictions in the offence of rape as Section 357 of the Criminal Code Act defines rape as an offence against women.

It acknowledged that the male gender can also be victims.

Chairman of the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matter, Opeyemi Bamidele in his presentation, explained that the aim of criminal law and criminal justice system is not only for punishment but also for deterrence, retribution, restoration and rehabilitation of offenders.

“And where the law fails to achieve any of these objectives, it becomes inherently defective, hence the need for the amendment/review of such law(s) to bring them into conformity with best practices.

“This amendment is a response to these anomalies and is also within the legislative powers of the National Assembly, to make laws that are responsive to the yearnings and aspirations of the people and to also amend obsolete laws that will enhance effective justice system and ensure good governance.

“Therefore, the amendment to the Criminal Code Act that is being proposed, is a welcome development to our criminal justice system”.

Senator Bamidele further noted that the proposition to delete statute of limitation on the prosecution of offences under section 218 and 221 of the Criminal Code Act, is a welcome development as the statute of limitation, placed on defilement and rape, negates the principles of natural law, equity and good conscience.

“There is no gainsaying the fact anyone who has carnal knowledge of a girl under the age of thirteen (13) or a girl being of or above the age of thirteen (13) and under the age of sixteen (16) or attempts to commit same offences, may not be punished, as the prosecution of such offence is barred after the expiration of two (2) months from the commission of the offence by virtue of the statute of limitation.

“Finally, they submitted that the frequency of kidnapping across the Federation and the resultant trauma, not to mention the number of lives lost to the crime, makes it imperative to review our laws with a view to ensuring appropriate punishment for perpetrators as well as serve as deterrence to would-be perpetrators.

“Thus, the passage of this Bill would proffer a life sentence for persons found guilty of kidnapping as against the provisions of section 364 of the Act, which proffer the punishment of imprisonment for a term of ten (10) years, where the offence of kidnapping is established”.

He added that Nigerians at the public hearing expressed divergent views as regards the proposed amendments in the bill.

Read Details Of The Bill Below:

REPORT OF THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY, HUMAN RIGHTS AND LEGAL MATTERS ON A BILL FOR AN ACT TO AMEND THE CRIMINAL CODE ACT CAP. C.38 LAWS OF THE FEDERATION OF NIGERIA, 2004 TO DELETE THE STATUTE OF LIMITATION ON DEFILEMENT, INCREASE PUNISHMENT FOR THE OFFENCE OF KIDNAPPING, REMOVE GENDER RESTRICTIONS IN THE OFFENCE OF RAPE; AND FOR RELATED MATTERS.

1.0 BACKGROUND

The Criminal Code Act Cap. C38 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 (Amendment) Bill, 2019 (SB.02) was sponsored by Distinguished Senator Oluremi Tinubu (Lagos Central Senatorial District). The Bill was read for the First Time on Tuesday, 24th September 2019. On Tuesday, 26th November 2019, the Senate deliberated on the general principles of the Bill. After extensive debates, it was read the Second Time and referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, for further legislative action, (vide Order of Referral dated Tuesday 26th November, 2019), to report back with its recommendations.

2.0 METHOD OF WORK

After the referral, the Committee held a series of meetings and agreed on the following legislative framework:

(a) to consult widely and seek views of stakeholders on the justifications for the passage of the Bill; and
(b) to resort to any other matter incidental thereto, which would assist the Committee in the discharge of its assignment.

3.0 OBJECTIVES OF THE BILL

Mr President, Distinguished colleagues, the objectives of the Bill, among others, are: to delete the statute of limitation on defilement in Sections 218 and 221 of the Criminal Code Act Cap. C.38 LFN, 2004 and amend the definition of rape in Section 357, and provide stringent punishment for the offence of kidnapping in section 364 of the Criminal Code Act.

4.0 LEGISLATIVE ACTION

In furtherance of this assignment, the Committee relied on the legislative framework, earlier agreed upon as the way forward. Accordingly, in addition to the wide consultations that were made with relevant stakeholders in order to elicit their inputs on the proposed legislation, the Committee also considered divergent views expressed by Distinguished Senators on the merits of the Bill during the Second Reading stage.

Mr President, Distinguished Colleagues, I wish to state here for the avoidance of doubt that, from views expressed on the Bill, there were opposing arguments on the passage of the Bill by the National Assembly. It will interest Distinguished Senators to note that the Committee subjected all the views canvassed for and against the passage of the Bill, taking into account, extant Laws on the subject matter. Below, are the highlights of the views expressed by stakeholders on the proposed legislation.

4.1 Highlights of Views

Mr President, Distinguished colleagues, let me commend once again, the Sponsor of the Bill for this laudable piece of legislative proposal. It is apposite to state that an effective criminal justice system, is fundamental to the maintenance of law and order and since criminal justice addresses behavioural issues, it must be dynamic and proactive.

The aim of criminal law and the criminal justice system is not only for punishment but also for deterrence, retribution, restoration and rehabilitation of offenders. And where the law fails to achieve any of these objectives, it becomes inherently defective, hence the need for the amendment/review of such law(s) to bring them into conformity with best practices. This amendment is a response to these anomalies and is also within the legislative powers of the National Assembly, to make laws that are responsive to the yearnings and aspirations of the people and to also amend obsolete laws that will enhance effective justice system and ensure good governance. Therefore, the amendment to the Criminal Code Act that is being proposed, is a welcome development to our criminal justice system.

Firstly, it should be noted that the proposition to delete statute of limitation on the prosecution of offences under section 218 and 221 of the Criminal Code Act, is a welcome development as the statute of limitation, placed on defilement and rape, negates the principles of natural law, equity and good conscience. There is no gainsaying the fact anyone who has carnal knowledge of a girl under the age of thirteen (13) or a girl being of or above the age of thirteen (13) and under the age of sixteen (16) or attempts to commit same offences, may not be punished, as prosecution of such offence is barred after the expiration of two (2) months from the commission of the offence by virtue of statute of limitation.

Secondly, the stakeholders contended that the use of the words “idiot or imbecile” in Section 221 of the Act, has pejorative connotations, which have become derogatory and obsolete. As such, their usage should no longer exist in our laws, hence the need for this amendment. This is also a welcome development and a modern trend in legislative drafting and best practice world over.

Furthermore, section 357 of the Criminal Code Act, defines rape as an offence against women. However, in recent times, there are incidences of non-consensual sex, perpetrated against the male gender. Therefore, the passage of this Bill will ensure that our laws and jurisprudence evolve in tandem with the rest of the world.

Finally, they submitted that the frequency of kidnapping across the Federation and the resultant trauma, not to mention the number of lives lost to the crime, makes it imperative to review our laws with a view to ensuring appropriate punishment for perpetrators as well as serve as deterrence to would-be perpetrators. Thus, the passage of this Bill would proffer a life sentence for persons found guilty of kidnapping as against the provisions of section 364 of the Act, which proffer the punishment of imprisonment for a term of ten (10) years, where the offence of kidnapping is established.

Mr President, Distinguished colleagues, at this juncture, we wish to state that a cross-section of stakeholders opposed the passage of the Bill, based on the substantive and procedural laws on the subject matter, hence, they submitted as follows:

Firstly, they stated that the statute of limitation, regarding the prosecution of the offence of defilement that must commence within two (2) months from the date the offence was committed, which is the absurdity that this Bill seeks to address, has been cured by virtue of section 45 (1) and (2) of the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act, 2015, as such, the amendment should be discountenanced. For the avoidance of doubt, the section provides as follows:

“(1) Any offence committed or proceedings instituted before the commencement of this Act under the provisions of the –
(a) Criminal Code, Cap. LFN, 2004
(b) Penal Code, LFN, 2004
(c) Criminal Procedure Code, Cap. LFN, 2004
(d) Any other law or regulation relating to any act of violence defined by this Act shall as the case may require to be enforced or continue to be enforced by the provisions of this Act.
(2) Any provision of the Act shall supersede any other provision on similar offences in the Criminal Code, Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Code”.

Secondly, it was contended that since the Violence Against Persons Act, 2015, has addressed the gender neutrality issue on rape or defilement, as there is no longer distinction regarding the classification of all acts of sexual penetration of persons, such as rape or defilement in this Act, it is needless to amend the Criminal Code Act in that regard. Thus, section 1 (1) (a) of the Act, states as follows:

“1. (1) A person commits the offence of rape if –
(a) he or she intentionally penetrates the vagina, anus or mouth of another person with any other part of his or her body or anything else”

From the standpoint of this provision, they argued that it is clear, gender neutrality introduced in the definition of rape in this Bill, has already been addressed, as such, the Criminal Code Act should not be amended.

Thirdly, they argued that the passage of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, has, in no small measure, helped in the administration of justice generally in the Federal Capital Territory and Federal Courts, across the country, which is the uniform procedural law that applies in these Courts. Therefore, stakeholders unanimously emphasised the urgent need to comprehensively and holistically review all obsolete existing criminal laws, including the Criminal Code Act and the Penal Code Act to pave way for uniformity and suitability in our country instead of embarking on a piecemeal amendment, as is being sought by this Bill; and

Finally, it was posited that in as much as the National Assembly has the power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Federation, it does not have the constitutional competence to legislate on crimes that do not fall within the contemplation of the Exclusive Legislative List. Hence, the National Assembly cannot amend the Criminal Code and Penal Code for the States.

5.0 OBSERVATIONS/FINDINGS

Flowing from the analysis of submissions made by the stakeholders on the Bill and based on our subsequent consideration of the Bill in our mark–up session, the Committee hereby makes the following observations and findings:

1. That the introduction of the Bill is laudable and commendable as its passage into law, will address the lingering issues of status of limitation in the prosecution of rape/defilement cases and the incessant kidnapping menace, which are on the rise, in recent times;

2. That even though the statute of limitation has been deliberately omitted from the VAPP Act, 2015, which is the prevailing law on the subject matter, intended to give room for the prosecution of offences of this nature, it is not of general application. As such, this proposed amendment is a welcome development;

3. That by virtue of Section 315 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, as amended, dealing with savings and transitional provision, the National Assembly has the legislative competence to amend the Criminal Code Act as an Act of the National Assembly by its virtue of being in existing law;

4. That the National Assembly can amend the Criminal Code Act in line with the aforesaid provision, which gives it power to take over all existing laws, made prior to its existence, and subject such laws to necessary modifications in order to bring them into conformity with the Constitution;

5. That contrary to views canvassed by those opposing the passage of the Bill by the National Assembly, on the ground that its passage will usurp the powers of the States to legislate on the subject matter, it should be stated for the avoidance of doubt, that the proposed Bill seeks to amend the Criminal Code Act of 1916 and not Criminal Code Law of the States; and

6. That the Bill, when enacted, will be applied by the Federal High Court, in the southern part of the country, where the Criminal Code Act, is applicable and operational.

6.0 RECOMMENDATION

The Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, to which this Bill, was referred, having considered same, recommends as follows:

“That the Senate does pass the Criminal Code Act Cap. C38, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 (Amendment) Bill, 2020”.

WE SO MOVE.

7.0 CONCLUSION

On behalf of members of the Committee, I wish to express our gratitude for this opportunity to serve you, our colleagues and our nation, Nigeria.

Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele
Chairman

Senate Asks Buhari To Send Soldiers After Bandits Taking Refuge In Jigawa

A file photo of lawmakers in the Senate.

 

The Senate has urged the President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the immediate deployment of a Semi-Permanent Platoon of soldiers to uproot bandits and insurgents seeking refuge in Jigawa communities after fleeing the wrath of security agencies in some northern states.

The call was made by the upper chamber on Tuesday following consideration of motion on “the need for the establishment of a Military Unit in Jigawa State.”

Sponsor of the motion, Senator Hassan Hadejia (APC – Jigawa North East) bemoaned the invasion of communities in Jigawa state by insurgents and bandits fleeing mounting pressure of security agencies across other northern states.

“These migrant alien settlers are masquerading and mixing with herders trooping to the area because of the fertile flood plain and thick forest cover,” he said.

According to Hadejia, the zone which is bordered by Yobe and Bauchi States and the Niger Republic has faced challenges of insurgents sneaking in to take temporary refuge from army operations.

He added that “proactive measures by the security operatives in conjunction with a reporting mechanism using traditional institutions has ensured they are neutralized before they localize and take root.”

The lawmaker expressed worry that “most of these herders and other armed groups that mingle with them appear to be non-nationals and their activities in the last 12 months has assumed a dangerous dimension resulting in attacks and raiding of villages.”

“They have also adopted unwarranted destruction of farm produce to discourage farmers from planting in what appears to be an extension of the strategy in the far northwest to disrupt agricultural production and precipitate calamitous food insecurity in the country to aid in their strategy of creating instability through hunger and local economic devastation.

“The three local Governments affected form the flood plain of the Hadejia River Basin and are the most productive in the zone providing fertile land and abundant water to thousands of families who can achieve 3 harvests annually;

“The perpetrators have no fear or regard for the police and the local inhabitants are also losing confidence in the authorities as no one has yet been apprehended and successfully prosecuted”, the lawmaker said.

Hadejia lamented that “several lives have been lost as the marauders mercilessly hack down innocent villagers in a gruesome manner with the latest incident claiming almost 10 lives last week.”

“There is need to take preventive measures so as to avert the Zamfara and Katsina experience”, he added.

The Senate accordingly, called on the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs to immediately arrange for distribution of relief materials and agricultural support to the affected communities to enable crop cultivation during the rainy season.

Senate Passes Criminal Code Bill, Seeks Protection Of Mentally Challenged Persons

 

The Senate has passed a bill to amend the Criminal Code Act 2004.

The passage of the bill followed consideration of the report of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters which was presented by its chairman, Opeyemi Bamdiele.

The piece of legislation, if assented into law by President Muhammadu Buhari, broadening the definition of rape and sexual offences.

Amendment to Section 357 of the principal Act, specifically substitutes the words ‘woman or girl, without her consent, or with her consent’, with the words, ‘any person, without consent, or with consent.

READ ALSO: Senate Recommends Life Imprisonment For Kidnappers, Removes Time Limit On Rape Cases

The bill also seeks to protect mentally challenged persons from sexual defilement and rape through an amendment to section 221 of the principal Act.

During plenary on Tuesday, an attempt by Senator Uche Ekwunife (PDP – Anambra Central) to effect an amendment to section 357 to define persons susceptible to rape to accommodate “married and unmarried persons” was rejected by lawmakers during the clause-by-clause consideration of the bill.

The upper chamber while retaining the provision of Section 364 of the principal Act, however, expunged the gender-specific term “him” and substituted the same with “such person” in defining the punishment for the offence of kidnapping.

Earlier, Chairman of the Committee, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele (APC – Ekiti Central), in his lead debate on the bill, said the piece of legislation “will address the lingering issues of status of limitation in the prosecution of rape/defilement cases and the incessant kidnapping menace, which are on the rise, in recent times.”

The lawmaker stated that contrary to views by those opposing the passage of the bill by the National Assembly, on the ground that its passage will usurp the powers of the states to legislate on the subject matter, the bill seeks to amend the Criminal Code Act of 1916 and not Criminal Code of the States.

World Hunger Worsening As COVID-19 Weighs, Obesity Rises – UN

A photo of the United Nations emblem
A photo of the United Nations emblem

 

Nearly one in nine people in the world are going hungry, with the coronavirus pandemic exacerbating already worsening trends this year, according to a United Nations report published on Monday.

Economic slowdowns and climate-related shocks are pushing more people into hunger, while nutritious foods remain too expensive for many, contributing not only to undernourishment but to growing rates of obesity in adults and children.

“After decades of a long decline, the number of people suffering from hunger has been slowly increasing since 2014,” said the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World annual report.

Not only did people need enough food, but nutritious food, the study said, citing costly “health and environmental consequences” of sub-par diets.

Nearly 690 million people, or 8.9 percent of people around the globe, are hungry, the UN found.

That number rose by 10 million people in just one year to 2019, and by 60 million in the past five years, found the study, which said eradicating hunger by 2030 – a goal set five years ago – will be impossible if trends continue.

By 2030, over 890 million people could be affected by hunger or 9.8 percent of the world’s population, it estimated and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Last year, the report estimated that over 820 million people were going hungry, but estimates were recalculated following revised data from China for prior years.

– More undernourished people –
When measuring both moderate and severe food insecurity in 2019, the number balloons from 690 million to 2 billion people without “regular access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food”.

The COVID-19 pandemic, which has hit hard in nations with widespread poverty, could cause another 83 to 132 million people to become undernourished this year, the report said.

Global trends had already been worsening before coronavirus, it said.

About a quarter of Africa’s population could go hungry by 2030 from 19.1 percent today, already twice the world average.

In Asia, the number of hungry people fell by 8 million people since 2015, although the continent remains home to more than half the world’s undernourished people.

Trends in Latin America and the Caribbean are worsening, with 9 million more hungry people last year than in 2015.

– Too expensive –
“A key reason why millions of people around the world suffer from hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition is that they cannot afford the cost of healthy diets,” found the report.

In all regions, adult obesity is on the rise, with healthy diets of fruits, vegetables and protein-rich foods unaffordable to some 3 billion people.

Over 57 percent of people in sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia cannot afford a healthy diet.

Low-income countries rely on starchy staples like cereals and tubers that can cost 60 percent less than healthy diets but lack necessary proteins and key vitamins and minerals to reduce infections and ward off disease.

The report found 21.3 percent of children under five, or 144 million, experienced stunted growth due to malnutrition, most of them in Africa or Asia.

Another 6.9 percent were “wasted” with nutritional imbalances, while 5.6 percent were overweight.

Of the overweight children, 45 percent come from Asia, and 24 percent from Africa, underscoring how malnutrition takes the form of both undernutrition and obesity.

Current patterns in food consumption are estimated to result in health costs of over $1.3 trillion per year by 2030.

But healthier diets could lower those costs by up to 97 percent, the report estimated, citing a vegetarian diet with associated health costs of less than $100 million.

Costs are also associated with greenhouse gas emissions caused by today’s food production system which could also be reduced by alternative diets.

While acknowledging high prices for healthy food are due to a variety of factors from insufficient diversification and inadequate food storage to domestic subsidies that favor staples, the report called an “urgent rebalancing of agricultural policies and incentives.”