The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, has promised to investigate the circumstances that led to the death of some applicants in last weekend’s nationwide recruitment by the Nigeria Immigration Service.
The commission made the pledge after receiving a petition from a civil society group, Citizens’ Advocacy for Social and Economic Rights, CASER, in Abuja.
The Executive Director of Citizen’s Advocacy for Social and Economic Rights, CASER, Frank Tietie, while presenting the petition, said that the Nigeria Immigration Service was wrong to have invited thousands of Nigerians for an aptitude test when they had only 4,500 vacancies.
The Executive Secretary of the NHRC, Professor Bem Angwe, while promising to unravel the cause of the stampede that led to the loss of lives in some the recruitment centers, described the death of the applicants as a sad event that should not be allowed to repeat itself.
The National Human Rights Commission having promised to thoroughly investigate the incident, also promised to recommend punishment for those found culpable in the recruitment exercise.
The expectations of thousands of graduates waiting at the recruitment centres to get employment into the Nigeria Immigration Service were cut short as a result of a stampede at different venues of the interview.
Seven persons; five women and two men lost their lives during the incident.
The trial of the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, was on Monday stalled as the presiding judge had to rise to attend a judges’ seminar.
Ikuforiji, had been standing trial before the Federal High Court, Lagos, for allegedly laundering over 339million Naira, charges brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The EFCC alleged that Ikuforiji and one of his aides, one Oyebode Atoyebi, accepted various cash sums on behalf of the State House of Assembly without going through a financial institution.
The suit, which was fixed for continuation of trial, could not go on as earlier scheduled, due to a judges’ seminar organised by the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).
When the case was called, the Prosecutor, Godwin Obla, and the Defence Counsel, Wole Olanipekun, consented to an adjournment.
The defence counsel, however, urged the prosecutor to produce his remaining witnesses in court on the next date, to ensure speedy trial.
Justice Ibrahim Buba then adjourned the case till Tuesday, March 18, for continuation of trial before leaving for his seminar.
The EFCC had re-arraigned the accused persons on June 24, 2013, on an amended 54 count charge.
The offences are said to contravene the provisions of Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (prohibition) Act 2011.
Both men had, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge, and were granted bail in the sum of 1 billion Naira each, with two sureties, each in the sum of N500 million.
Former Nigerian Ambassador to the United Nations, Ambassador Kunle Adeyemi, believes that many Nigerian embassies abroad are doing a good job of protecting Nigerians abroad to the extent that they are allowed by the laws of the host countries.
Sunrise on Channels Television hosted Amb. Adeyemi and presented him with statistics showing that as at December 2013, no fewer than 15,300 Nigerians were in various prisons abroad, with the largest number of about 750 in the UK alone.
On the reasons why Nigerians usually experience hostility in many countries, Adeyemi said that steps had been taken to fight such treatments making reference to the deportation of some South Africans as retaliation to an earlier treatment meted out to Nigerians.
He, however, noted that it has been discovered that many African countries were only jealous of Nigeria, citing events during the voting of Nigeria into the UN Security Council. He recounted how African countries adamantly voted against Nigeria and it took votes from outside the continent to give Nigeria victory.
He also cited the attitude of Nigerians in foreign lands as a major source of resentment against Nigerians. He condemned the domineering attitude of Nigerians in the business setting as one which locals in host countries would never be happy with, as he advised that “elbowing out” hosts is not a right attitude.
Ambassador Adeyemi admitted that indeed Nigeria has not been strong in forcing other countries as it was not in the culture of the country to engage in retaliatory actions against governments to drive its foreign policy. He attributed this to the “big brother” position of the country among other African countries.
He cited the instance of the presidential election in the Republic of Benin, and the role of the Nigerian Government in averting a planned annulment of the polls as an example of forms in which the country flexes its muscles positively.
He advised Nigerians planning to live abroad to start by getting proper information about their host countries right from the point where they pick up their visas at the embassy in Nigeria, as information was the best way to avoid being in trouble.
The Founder of the Consumer Advocacy Foundation of Nigeria, Sola Salako, said that Nigerian subscribers remain highly frustrated even after many years of the GSM technology in Nigeria.
Executive Secretary of the Consumer Rights Project, Onu Uche, blamed the situation on the general lackadaisical attitude of Nigerians and the lack of laws to protect Nigerian consumers. He commended the Lagos State Government for passing the Consumer Protection Law, which he said was a step in the right direction.
Both were guests of Sunrise on Channels Television in a special interview to mark the Global ‘Consumer Rights Protection Day’.
Salako admitted that the challenges faced by Nigerian telephone users were global but she believed that the gaps for exploitation were wider in Nigeria than it was in many other countries. She said that most of the laws were ancient as they cannot cater to the Information Technology world that has become an integral part of the country’s economy and the people’s lifestyle.
National President of the National Association of Telecom Subscribers, Deolu Ogunbanjo, who was also on the programme, said that the regulators were trying in the sense that they were beginning to introduce features that make the subscribers more comfortable. He cited the number portability introduced by the Nigeria Communication Commission which allows the user to choose as laudable.
He, however, noted that more still needed to be done, as the subscribers remain victims of many issues like bad service, hidden charges, irregular billings and many more.
The theme for the 2014 Consumer Rights Protection Day was “Fix Our Phones Right” and this explains why the discussion focused on the Nigerian telecom sector.
Educating Nigerian subscribers about their rights was also identified as one of the major factors to be sorted out. Salako believed that the idea that Nigerians do not know their rights was wrong as they knew how to complain. She said that the major challenge was that Nigerians grumble rather than channel their complaints through the right medium.
Ogunbanjo added that “when there is an issue you complain first to the operator through their customer care line and then they refer them to the website for further pursuant of their rights” but he asked, “how many Nigerians have access to the computer?”
He called for a new system whereby Nigerians are able to make their complaints via the SMS service and also asked for the enforcement of the right for telecom users to have access to their call records.
Mr Uche advised Government and telecom operators to come up with policies that would ensure that the subscribers’ welfare is protected. He noted that the subscriber is always on the receiving end of polices they make and therefore should be considered before they introduce any new ideas.
Ogunbanjo noted that Nigerian telecom subscribers have lost about 730billion Naira to poor quality of service, and for the sake of patronage it is not too much for the telecom providers to give back at least 5,000 Naira every year as “we are patronising them and keeping them in business.”
Salako was of the opinion that customer service must first be improved, as it is not right for anyone to be kept on the line while trying to lay complaints, as that is frustrating. She also said that it should be made a law that for every credit loaded there would be a percentage bonus added, in order to make up for all the instances of poor services suffered by the subscriber and this should be so until services improve in the country.
UK based Nigerian Juju Musician, Jide Akinwunmi popularly known as Jide Chord has taken his music back to Nigeria.
He made this known while appearing as the ‘Guest of the Week’ on Channels Television’s Sunrise. He noted that he decided to take his trade to the United Kingdom because he felt the home turf was saturated and he had a better chance of making it abroad.
He admitted that the audience was smaller in the UK and he was aware of the risk in his decision but he was able to follow his heart because he had alternative skills like music production and entrepreneurial skills that would help him balance things out.
Jide noted that 40% of his audience were Nigerians and about 60% were other nationals. He revealed that the secret to his ability to capture a large non-Nigerian fan base could also be linked to his radio audience and his performances at Jazz events with predominantly non-Nigerian audiences.
Jide’s education and vast knowledge of the Nigerian and European cultures also contributed to his rise and ability to take his music to many countries of the world. He revealed that asides performances, he has also written and presented academic papers on African Music at tertiary institutions overseas.
He, however, revealed that his major challenge was not getting bookings but the staff that worked with him. He noted that the typical Nigerian attitude to time became a major issue as many Nigerians in UK has many career commitments and lacked the time managements skills to combine these jobs with their role as members of his band.
At what point did Jide decide to check out of Nigeria? The guitar maestro, who was trained as a journalist and also worked in banking, said that he left Nigeria to seek greener pastures in 1988.
Jide Chord, who once left home to live with renowned Nigerian Magician, the late Professor Pellar, also revealed that during his years of struggle he had once practiced Magic and shared fond memories of that part of his life.
Jide concluded by saying that he indeed found those greener pastures on his sojourn abroad but said that he was back in Nigeria because now the grass was greener in the country.
Unconfirmed reports say that 7 persons may have died and several others injured following a stampede at the National Stadium, Abuja.
This was the venue of an aptitude test for the 2013/2014 applicants who had applied to join the Nigerian Immigration Service.
Eye witness account said that over 56,000 graduates had gathered at the National Stadium as early as 7am on Saturday morning to take part in the recruitment exercise conducted by the Nigeria Immigration Service when the incident occurred.
The Public Relations Officer of the National Hospital, Mr Tayo Haastrup gave assurance that those injured were receiving medical care, while a few others had been taken to the Garki and Asokoro General Hospital.
One of the applicants, who spoke to Channels Television, explained the circumstances leading to the stampede, “I was here before 7, and we were begging them to open the gate because the crowd was getting too much but they refused to open the gate. So people who were at the back were pushing us because the crowd was too much and people had to march on others and that pushed the gate down.”
Another witness said, “This is complete leadership failure, and the sooner the people in Government wake up and assist people who are unemployed (the better). I am employed, but the truth is that people are actually dying. We saw people dying here and it is wrong, something must be done.”
The Nigeria Immigration Service recruitment examinations took off in various centres around the country but due to the State of Emergency declared in 3 states of the country, applicants from Borno State were required to take their exams in Gombe, Yobe applicants in Bauchi, while candidates from Adamawa were to write theirs in Taraba State.
Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum and Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi says the focus of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum retreat holding in Lagos State would be to look at the dire need for the country to create an alternative economy and engage its youths.
Amaechi was speaking on our daily breakfast programme, ‘Sunrise Daily’.
While attributing the state of insecurity in the state to unemployment and illiteracy, Amaechi noted that the major areas to focus on in creating an alternative economy were developing agriculture and the power sector, which drives the rest of the economy.
He noted that in Agriculture particularly, the excuse of having no land to farm was no longer tenable as many states are willing to provide land with friendly conditions for serious farmers. He added that the Northern would give lands free to people willing to engage in farming. Therefore there was need for Nigerians to be aware that agriculture has a major role in the future of the country.
Amaechi noted that at the last National Economic Council Meeting, he suggested that the Government should take 1% of revenues from all states to fund education in the North as a means to fight insurgency in the state as he believed that illiteracy was also another major factor in the region.
He noted that although the move may seem illegal but if the state governors were willing to go back to their State Assemblies to get approval for the contribution, then it would work. He warned that there would be no way to curb insurgency if the youths in the Northeast lack education and jobs.
Governor Amaechi has been vocal in the fight against corruption recently and there has been criticisms of the timing of his campaigns, as many wonder why he did not start out with the vocal approach against corruption in the beginning of his administration.
Amaechi argued that the assumption was a product of ignorance, as people did not know him well enough, saying that there had been ongoing talks with the Presidency on the need to curb corruption which he did not deem necessary for public knowledge. He revealed that there was a time governors refused to take their allocation for 3 months to protest the alleged racketeering in the oil subsidy issue.
However, they became louder when they lost the ears of the President. He explained that they had to go public when the President became unwilling to listen to the clamour for prudence in government.
He maintained an earlier statement that the genesis of the problems was that as Chairman of the Governors’ Forum he had been very vocal about issues in the country.
Amaechi, during the week, was himself faced with the challenge of students in Rivers State protesting the non-payment of bursary allowances for 2 years and the Governor expressed his surprise at the development. He stated that he was highly embarrassed by the protest and he had summoned the Secretary to the State Government on the issue. He however, took the blame for the confusion as he promised that the funds would be made available.
He noted that his government had been consistent in paying foreign scholarships and therefore would not find it difficult to cater to the local students.
With the crisis rocking the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF, Governor Amaechi had been advised to step down for the sake of peace, and to send a message to the public that his agitation was about a desire for change rather than power. He was asked on the programme why he did not embrace this idea.
Amaechi said that he stood his ground on remaining as the Chairman of the forum because it was his democratic right and he should be commended for upholding the values of democracy rather than being criticized for not resigning.
Speaking on the purported low turnout of governors at the last NGF retreat owing to the crisis, Amaechi stated that the absentee governors have a choice to attend or not, but in the interest of the country, they need to attend.
On allegations made by the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, that Governor Amaechi had been squandering the funds of the state. Amaechi referred to the statement as a lie by someone “who did not go to school”.
Speaking further on the issue, he said that he personally does not like commissioning ceremonies as he did not feel right about asking people to see him doing what is supposed to be his job, but he had to start this because of allegations like the ones made by the PDP.
He noted that he invited former president, Olusegun Obasanjo to commission projects in his state in order to ensure that the several projects executed by his administration could be verified. He also made reference to his publicly criticized rail project, which he boasted was highly commended by the former president because of the number of jobs it would create in the state.
When asked about the source of funding for the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, Governor Amaechi said that they get money from donor agencies and as a club they also contribute money among themselves.
Unknown gunmen have attacked Kuran Mota and Mararabar Rindu villages in Faskari council and Unguwar Rimi village in Sabuwa Council Area of Katsina State, killing about 60 people and injuring many others.
An eyewitness told our correspondent that the gunmen who stormed the communities with 20 power bike motorcycles and AK47 rifles at about 6pm also killed a district head and carted away several cows belonging to local herdsmen.
The gunmen also launched a fresh attack on the two local governments on Wednesday, forcing natives to flee from their villages for fear of being killed.
A community leader told Channels Television that there was no presence of security men in the affected villages, as all the policemen and other security operatives were deployed to the state capital, ahead of President Goodluck Jonathan’s visit to the state on Thursday.
There has been no official confirmation of the incident as efforts to speak with the Special Adviser to the Katsina State Governor on Media, Mr. Sani Manunfasi, and the Police Spokesman in the state, Aminu Sadik, have been unsuccessful.
The mission of the Ministry of Health is to develop and implement policies and programmes and undertake other actions to deliver effective, efficient, quality and affordable health services.
The Federal Ministry of Health has been in the news for the wrong reasons at different times. Strikes and threats of strike, rivalry among health sector professionals, lack of equipment and many more, tend to overshadow the progress being made by the ministry to improve Nigeria’s health indicators.
The Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu has been in charge since the year 2010, and he joins us on this edition of ‘View From The Top’.
The Minister said that the Government was not doing badly, as it had recorded a reduction of maternal mortality rate in Nigeria by 56 per cent, which he said was no mean achievement.
In terms of immunisation, the government had also achieved 80 per cent coverage.
He, however, said that the federal system of government that Nigeria was practicing was contributing to problems with health indices. He complained that although Nigerians are beginning to understand how federal system ought to work, there were some local governments that are still waiting for the Federal Government to come and do everything for them.
The Minister also spoke about the several plans of the ministry for the year 2014. Enjoy the interview.