Members of the House of Representatives have raised an alarm over the trend of Nigerians being illegally detained in prisons in foreign lands, and asked the Federal Government to secure their release.
This follows a motion raised by a lawmaker, Dennis Idahosa, on the need to ascertain the number of Nigerians detained in foreign prisons, during plenary on Thursday in the lower chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja.
In their resolution, they urged the Federal Government to intervene and secure the release of Nigerians being held illegally in prisons abroad.
The lawmakers also resolved to mandate the House Committees on Foreign Affairs, Justice and Inter-Parliamentary Relations, to ensure compliance with the resolution reach.
Before the resolution, they noted that Nigerians were in almost all countries of the world, making exploits in sports, technology, business, education, and politics, and have been ranked as one of the highest educated immigrants in foreign countries.
They added that due to the large population of the Nigerian diaspora community, the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) was established to provide for the engagement and participation of such persons in the development of the country.
In moving the motion, Idahosa drew the attention of his colleagues to the International Conventions and Treaties which prescribed that anyone charged with a criminal offence was entitled to a fair hearing, within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law.
According to him, the World Bank estimated remittances of around 24.3 billion per year and six per cent of the country’s GDP, thereby making Nigeria one of the highest-ranking countries of the world in remittances inflow.
“Cognisant that the remittances of Nigerians living abroad have been of significant impact in the development and economic growth of the country;
“Concerned about reports that many Nigerians are languishing in foreign prisons, some of whom are being illegally detained, while some are exposed to labour exploitation, poor living conditions, discrimination, sex exploitation and other forms of dehumanising treatments;
“Worried that from a 2019 survey report by the Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEPAD), about 16,500 Nigerians who are in prisons outside the country were convicted without legal representation and not knowing why they are in jail,” the lawmaker said.
He believes the Federal Government needs to employ diplomatic means to assist Nigerians wrongly convicted and being detained in various prisons abroad.
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami says the fifth-generation (5G) network is not harmful, allaying fears in many quarters that its deployment could pose a risk to public health.
Pantami spoke after the weekly Federal Executive Council meeting in Abuja on Wednesday where he also said the National Policy on fifth-generation (5G) network in Nigeria was approved.
According to him, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) have confirmed the network is not harmful to people’s health.
“Both of them confirm that there are no any adverse health effects of 5G and it has not been proven to be any harmful to our health,” the Minister said.
“Most importantly, even its frequency and radiation is even lower than that of 4G, and it is lower than the televisions and microwave we have at home. So, they have already issued that. They explained about its safety, and also advised nations on the regulations and the standards to be used in the course of the deployment.
“And this is something that the Nigerian Communications Commission has been directed to ensure that all standards, and regulations are complied with. And furthermore, you will all recall that in order to create awareness and sensitise our citizens, the Nigerian Communications Commission has been reaching out to citizens through local languages to tell them the advantages of 5G and where we need it.”
The Minister revealed that the policy was approved after he presented a memo during the FEC meeting, explaining that the deployment of the network will immensely benefit Nigerians.
Pantami said that the benefits that accrue from using the 5G network include larger capacity, higher data rates among other economic, health, security and educational opportunities.
“That policy has been approved by the Federal Executive Council today. Furthermore, the policy discusses the benefits to be attained through the deployment of 5G in Nigeria and in any part of the world which includes lower latency, larger capacity, and higher data rate,” he added.
“These are the three major benefits of the fifth generation. And in a simple language, we can say it will open many opportunities economically, academically, educationally, and even in the health sector. And it will also support our security institutions, particularly in areas where they need high-quality services.”
Pantami’s comment comes amid concerns over the deployment of the 5G network, especially its purported linkage with the COVID-19 outbreak.
On May 19, the Senate had asked the Federal Government to suspend plans to deploy it pending a six-month investigation into possible health risks associated with the technology.
In telecommunications, 5G is the fifth generation technology standard for broadband cellular networks.
It’s been a tough period for many Nigerians living in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), especially those in Dubai, as they lament the loss of jobs and difficulty in obtaining a work permit.
Bisi Kazeem, one of the affected Nigerians, believes authorities in the Middle East country are punishing them for the sins of a few.
“As far as I’m concerned, I can only say maybe it is one out of 10, or 10 out of 100 Nigerians that are doing the bad things,” he told Channels Television. “Every other person is facing his/her job.”
She continued: “It has not been easy at all. I have been feeding from hand to mouth. Even as I speak, in the next two to three days, the rent here will expire. I don’t even know how I am going to pay the owner.”
Reports of a ban on work permits for Nigerians living in the UAE first surfaced over two months ago.
Since then, hundreds of legitimate workers have lost their jobs, or have been unable to secure new employment. The effect, for most, has been devastating.
“We are starving here,” Azeez Akogun, a technician, said. “We are facing a lot of stress. A lot of people are being frustrated; I am being frustrated. Every day, being at home without any income; so, it’s kind of crazy.”
“I never had any issue with my company,” said Olabanji Folorunsho who is still in shock after he was relieved of his security job. “Not a single warning letter from my company.”
An Attack On Migrants?
Officials at the Nigerian Embassy in the UAE say they are doing everything in their power to resolve the issue, but the question the victims are asking is for how long?
“I am begging them (UAE authorities) to lift the ban so I can continue my job,” a disturbed Kazeem pleaded. “They should just pity we the innocent ones so that in the nearest future, one will not become a destitute or a nuisance in the land of UAE.”
Crime rate is said to have been rising among foreigners in the UAE. Earlier this year, videos surfaced online, showing the aftermath of a violent cultist-related altercation linked to Nigerians – an incident many believe has now led to work restrictions.
Similarly, in February, it was reported online that an Indian was robbed of Rs 55,30,806 by four Nigerian women in Dubai. The 33-year-old man was reportedly lured into a fake massage parlour through a dating app.
Following an investigation, Dubai Police say three women were arrested in Sharjah – a city also in the UAE – in connection with the crime.
Amid concerns raised by law-abiding Nigerians and nationals of other African nations said to have also been affected, the Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor and ImpACT International released a joint report on Thursday.
According to the international bodies, the report was compiled based on about 100 interviews with migrant workers from Nigeria, Cameroon, and Uganda, and over 20 of those who spoke confirmed a massive campaign of arrests against African workers in the UAE.
‘They Were Just Laughing At Us’
The workers said the attacks, carried out on June 24 and 25 allegedly by authorities, were planned, targeted, and racially motivated.
At least 800 workers were reportedly taken over the course of two nights, with an unknown number still under detention. Many were said to have been deported despite having valid residence visas and/or work permits.
“I was kidnapped on 25 June at 2am on my bed sleeping,” Melachio Carlos, a Cameroonian who worked as a waiter, was quoted as saying in the 54-page report. “They took me and asked about my ID, passport, valid residency permit, and phone.
“They stole everything in my room. They beat me and took me half-naked, only with my sleeping clothes, to Al Wathba prison in Abu Dhabi. We arrived there and they put us in prison. They also took our wives, some of them were pregnant.”
“They took us to the prison, and when we got there, they did not give sanitary pads for the women who were doing their menstrual cycle,” a Ugandan nanny, Catherine Kuheisa, said. “Blood was running down their legs and when we went to ask for pads, they were just laughing at us.”
The UAE Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE) is responsible for issuing work permits to foreigners willing to work in the country.
According to the law of the country – Article 1 of Ministerial Decree No. 766 of 2015, a worker whose employment is terminated due to contract expiration can get a new work permit whenever he/she wishes to join new employment.
The law also allows an employee to get a new work permit for all limited and non-limited contracts if it is determined that the employer has failed to meet the legal and contractual obligations, among other conditions.
In his reaction, the UAE Ambassador in Nigeria, Dr Fahad Obaid Al Taffaq, stated that the said ban is not official and not from UAE authorities.
“From what I believe as an official position from the UAE, the UAE is a very welcoming country. We have no discrimination against any nationality,” Taffaq said in a conversation with the Chairman of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Abike Dabiri-Erewa.
Ahead of the 2023 general elections, former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega has cautioned Nigerians against voting for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Speaking in Kaduna State during an interview with BBC Hausa, the ex-INEC boss argued that the two major political parties were synonymous with corruption, asking the masses to choose a credible alternative.
“The APC and the PDP have [ruled] all we have seen, they do not mean reform,” Jega said. “If you look at the fight against corruption, all the people who are said to be thieves will be punished because they stole under the PDP, now they have defected to the APC, and you are silent.”
“That is why we believe it is time to create a platform for all good people to return to, to contribute to the cause of change in Nigeria.”
Speaking further, the 64-year-old Professor of Political Science at the Bayero University Kano, said he registered as a member of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), to see how he could “help” Nigeria.
He alleged that those in the major political parties have destroyed everything and had made the parties so stigmatised that whichever good person joins the parties would be considered like them.
On the agitations for the country to split, the former INEC boss blamed the move on bad leadership in Nigeria, noting it had thrown the nation into its current problems.
Jega added, “So since these corrupt people have blocked everything, to the point that even if you are a good person if you are in their party and you can’t curse anything, then there should be a different party that will bring good people together.
“Obviously the way I see our politicians running the election and the way they are represented when they are elected is really scary.”
Akwa Ibom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel, has appealed to the National Assembly to rebuild the confidence of Nigerians in it and demonstrate its sincerity with the constitutional review by first passing the pass the pending Electoral Bill.
He made the call on Wednesday when he received members of the Special House of Representatives Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution for the South-South states after the second day of the public hearing for Rivers, Cross River, and Akwa Ibom States in Uyo, the state capital.
Governor Emmanuel stated that the Electoral Bill was a yearning of the people that must be prioritised and called on the Legislative and Executive arms of the Federal Government to expedite actions to bring the bill alive.
He opined that this would remedy the seeming apathy of Nigerians towards the Constitution review process.
“As we are working on the Constitution review, Nigerians will want to see the sincerity of the National Assembly.
“If you want us to believe this exercise, give us the Electoral Bill as soon as possible and let the Executive sign it into law, then we will believe that this one will also see the light of day,” the governor said.
He commended the Speaker of the ninth Assembly for the relative harmony in the House of Representatives and the selection of members to pilot the review process in the South-South.
According to Governor Emmanuel, as important as the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) is, the most important and urgent at the moment is the Electoral Bill.
He called on the Red and Green chambers of the National Assembly to consider the plea as the yearning of over 200 million Nigerians.
The governor said the agitation by people in the South-South region would be unnecessary if the Federal Government could avoid some outright violations of the laws governing the running of its institutions in the region.
“We cannot enjoy peace as a country if we cannot even obey the simple rule of law we put in place; we need to build back hope and confidence in our people, we need to let people know that we do listen to them,” he stated.
In his remarks, the Chairman of the Special Committee and House Minority Whip, Gideon Gwani, thanked Governor Emmanuel for the hospitality accorded the lawmakers.
He explained that setting up the committee became necessary to address the challenges confronting the nation and to chart a course towards a new Constitution that would guarantee the fundamental freedom of Nigerians.
“Nigeria is a great country but currently, we are going through challenging times; we are battling insecurity, dwindling economy, and the resurgence of fear of ethnic domination which led our country to civil war several years ago, which have continued to plague every aspect of our national life.
“As a nation, we need to take a pause and also appraise our terms of social contract, our mode and system of government, and the only way to legally respond to those calls is via constitutional amendment,” said Gwani who represents Kaura Federal Constituency of Kaduna State.
The Federal Government says it is taking significant precautions to protect Nigerians against B.1.617.2, also known as the Indian variant of coronavirus (COVID-19).
Dr Faisal Shuaib, the Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), gave the assurance while briefing reporters on Tuesday in Abuja.
“Flights from India and other high-risk countries such as Turkey and Brazil have been barred from entering Nigeria; we are ramping up our test and trace measures, and we are accelerating the national project to establish production of oxygen supplies across all states of Nigeria,” he said.
The NPHCDA chief added, “I want to seize the opportunity to enjoin Nigerians to continue to observe the public health or non-pharmaceutical measures in place to curb the transmission of COVID-19, as we are not out of the woods yet.
“We will continue to closely monitor the situation and update citizens.”
He revealed that the agency has almost completed administering all first doses as of Monday as 1,929,237 Nigerians have been captured – representing 96 per cent of the targeted population.
Shuaib informed reporters that the government was already administering the second dose of the vaccine with 4,683 eligible persons covered so far.
“We are advising that all Nigerians who have received their first dose should check their vaccination cards for the date of their second dose, and ensure that they receive the second dose to gain full protection against COVID-19,” he said.
The NPHCDA chief added, “As we transition to administering second doses, our teams have assessed the communication and mobilisation activities that have been undertaken thus far to create awareness for the COVID-19 vaccine and encourage uptake.
“We will be building on the work we have already done in these areas to ensure that Nigerians can easily access accurate information about COVID-19 vaccination.”
He said the agency would continue engagement and communication with communities across the country.
The Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) has published the names of 90 returning travellers who evaded the mandatory seven-day quarantine for persons arriving from restricted countries.
A statement issued on Sunday by the PSC Chairman and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, revealed that the erring persons comprised 63 Nigerians and 27 foreigners.
Mustapha noted that the committee had issued a travel advisory on May 1 for passengers arriving in Nigeria from Brazil, India, and Turkey, saying the measures were necessary to mitigate the risk of importation of variants of concern and break the chain of transmission to the population.
“Under the new measures, passengers arriving from/or that have visited any of these three countries within fourteen (14) days prior to the visit to Nigeria, are required to follow mandatory arrival quarantine and testing protocols in designated facilities.
“The Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) has, however, observed that while most of the arriving passengers dutifully observed the guidelines, some (Nigerians and Foreigners) have violated them in contravention of the provisions of the CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) HEALTH REGULATIONS PROTECTION, 2021,” he said.
The erring persons, according to the SGF, arrived in Nigeria between May 8 and 15 through the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos and Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja.
He added that they have been declared Persons of Interest (POI) on account of posing a considerable danger to overall public health and for the violation of the nation’s COVID-19 travel protocol by evading quarantine.
Mustapha advised Nigerians to be wary of such persons of interest, saying they constitute an immediate health hazard to the society.
He also asked the erring persons to transport themselves safely to the nearest state public health departments within the next 48 hours for evaluation and call the Port Health Services, Federal Ministry of Health on 08036134672 or 08032461990 for further directions.
“The PSC shall, in addition, take further steps to sanction these violators. These steps include disabling their travel passports for a period not less than one year; cancelation of visas/ permits of foreigners that have abused our hospitality; and prosecution under the 2021 Health Protection Regulations.
“Additional list of Batch II defaulters shall be published in a subsequent announcement by the PSC,” the committee chairman stated.
See the full list of the persons whose names were published below:
Nigerians are not required to submit the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) of their phones from July.
This is according to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) which denied media reports suggesting that the masses would have to submit their IMEIs to the Federal Government.
NCC in a statement issued on Friday by its spokesperson, Ikechukwu Adinde, said the commission is in the process of deploying a Device Management System.
“At no time did the commission issue a statement regarding the registration of IMEI by subscribers and it has no plans to do so,” he said.
“The reports in question have emanated from a section of the Revised National Identity Policy for SIM Card Registration recently launched by President Muhammadu Buhari and which has been uploaded on the commission’s website.
“The DMS will essentially protect subscribers against phone theft and will identify and enable the elimination of fake devices from the networks.
“The system will capture IMEI automatically without any requirement for subscribers to submit same.”
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) calls on President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC) led Federal Government to end what it described as insensitivity and take urgent steps to address the food insecurity in the country.
In a statement on Sunday by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, the party claimed that under the present administration, over 82.9 million Nigerians can no longer afford their daily meals due to the failure of the government to take practical steps to grow and protect the food sector.
Noting that this has led to severe food scarcity with prices soaring beyond the reach of the people, it stated that Nigeria ranked 98 out of 107 in Global Hunger Index.
According to the PDP, this comes with agonising food shortage, collapsed purchasing power, 33.3 per cent unemployment, 22.95 food inflation rates, as well as increased morbidity and mortality rates.
“Today, under the APC, a bag of rice which sold for N8,000 under the PDP now sells for N30,000; a measure of garri and beans which sold for N150 and N250 now sell for N500 and N800 respectively; a measure of maize and guinea corn which sold for about N150 now sells for N400; while a kilo of meat which sold for about N800 now sells for about N2,300.
“Our party notes that the current food crisis is occasioned by the failure of the APC administration to recalibrate our agricultural sector, as well as to take decisive steps to address the violence, terrorism, and banditry in food production areas,” the statement said.
It added, “Nigerians recall how the APC administration had remained insensitive to calls by our party and well-meaning Nigerians asking it to address the escalated violent attacks and killing of farmers as well as livestock producers by bandits, terrorists, and criminal herders resulting in the desertion of farms in various parts of our country.”
The party decried that farmers now overflow in Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps while their fields and farmhouses have been overrun by bandits and terrorists.
It blamed the escalated insecurity on the nation’s highways for the hampered production and distribution value chain, stressing that there was no hope in sight.
The PDP, therefore, asked President Buhari to take urgent steps to address the urgent issue of hunger by opening the silos to cushion the situation and push down prices.
It also asked the government to realign the agricultural sector by beefing up security in food production areas to ensure farmers return to the farmland.
“The PDP also believes that the time has come for President Buhari to provide direct stimuli to small businesses as an incentive to pay salaries, revamp production and boost purchasing power,” the party said.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has asked Nigerians to be vigilant and demand proper identification from officers when confronted with the possibility of arrest.
Addressing reporters on Thursday, the Zonal Head of the Lagos EFCC Office, Ghali Ahmed, advised Nigerians to always report any suspicious operation to the nearest office of the anti-graft agency.
We need to be wary of the antics of this gang of impostors and to report any suspicious “operations” to the nearest EFCC office,” he said.
The zonal head added, “Above all, we enjoin members of the public confronted with the possibility of arrest, to demand proper identification from arresting officers.
“They can also demand arrest warrant, as the commission does not embark on any operation without a warrant. The operations of the commission are usually in line with international best practices.”
He explained that the advice became necessary after EFCC operatives arrested two suspects and a Mobile Police inspector for impersonating officials of the commission and extorting members of the public in Lagos.
The suspects – Pascal Chijioke and Sodiq Adekunle, as well as the policeman – Edwin Bassey – were arrested at the New Horizon Estate in the Lekki area of the state during an illegal operation to serve a purported court order on an unsuspecting victim.
“They however ran out of luck as the commission, acting on a tip-off, swooped on them.
“Items recovered from them include the fake EFCC ID cards, the jackets, the purported court order touted to have emanated from Mushin Magistrate Court, a truckload of household properties belonging to the unsuspecting victim.
“The suspects have made useful statements and will soon be arraigned in court,” said Ahmed.
According to him, the EFCC has recorded some progress in the course of its operations and the most significant of them is the recent action that led to the arrest of the alleged impostors and police inspector.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, has said that all Nigerians, whether in government or as professionals, must rededicate themselves to the protection of democracy.
He also said all Nigerians must see nation-building as a ‘joint task,’ saying each Nigerian has a critical role to play to achieve the best vision for the country.
Gbajabiamila was speaking on Wednesday night in Abuja at the 2021 Press Freedom Awards organised by the national body of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ).
The speaker, who delivered the keynote address of the night, spoke on the topic, ‘Press Freedom, Democracy and Good Governance.’
Speaker Gbajabiamila stated, “Our democracy has survived twenty-two long years, but we cannot take it for granted. We are at this moment buffeted by ill wind on all sides.
“Our highest task, our most pressing ambition for which there are no other alternatives, is the protection of this democracy. If we fail in this regard, nothing else will matter, nothing else we do will count in our favour when the tally of history is settled.
“We have it in our power to improve our nation’s future and leave this world better than we found it. So, let us do that together.”
The speaker, represented by the Deputy House Leader, Rep. Peter Akpatason, supported the promotion of free press and free expression, noting that these were “fundamental safeguards of our democracy.”
Gbajabiamila also said he backed journalists in practicing their profession by holding those in government to account.
However, he advised that in doing so, journalists must be truly professional by reporting the truth always, as against the growing trend in certain media outfits of reporting falsehoods.
He added, “You can only live up to this responsibility when you commit to the vigorous pursuit of elusive truths, and dedicate yourselves to the service of paramount principles.
“Unfortunately, a number of those who practice journalism in our country have failed and are failing to live up to the responsibility imposed by the power you hold.
“Far from giving voice to the aspirations of our nation, or holding the powerful properly to account, much of journalism in Nigeria has become an endless pursuit of clickbait through the careless writing of falsehoods and malicious publication of half-truths.”
The speaker urged journalists and all Nigerians alike to rededicate themselves to the ideals of democracy, calling for better safeguards for the practice of journalism in the country.
“So, we arrive at the recognition that all of us – government and journalists alike – have not always lived up to the responsibilities we owe to our country and each other.
“Let us all choose today to rededicate ourselves to the unyielding pursuit of excellence in governance and journalism, recognising that what is at stake is not profit or promotion, political power or personal ambition, but the very survival of our country. Nation-building is a joint task.
“Each of us has a role to play if we will in our lifetime achieve the best vision of a country that works for all our nation’s people.”
The highlight of the event was the conferment of the award of ‘Distinguished Defender of Free Press’ on the Speaker.
The Senator representing Ekiti North in the National Assembly, Olubunmi Adetunmbi, has asked Nigerian politicians to forget political activities for the 2023 general elections and address the worsening security situation in the country.
Adetunmbi stated this on Monday during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, noting that without security, polls cannot hold.
“We should suspend this issue of focus on 2023 and focus on how to salvage this country so that people who have the capacity, knowledge, vision and the solution to solve this problem, that is what we should interrogate and not scoring points,” he said.
“The people who want to use security as a means electioneering and edging out those in power for them to come back there, what do they govern when there is no Nigeria?
“When there is war in Zamfara, there is a problem in Katsina. In Ogun State, there are displacements. In Oyo, Ekiti, there are killings going on. In the east, everything is happening. In that kind of context, how do you govern regardless of what party you belong to?”
Speaking further, the lawmaker called on all Nigerians to collaborate to overcome the security issues facing the country.
As measures to tackling the security issues, President Muhammadu Buhari earlier this year replaced his four top military commanders in a bid to better combat the insurgency that has also displaced more than two million people from their homes since 2009.
ISWAP split from mainstream Boko Haram in 2016 and became a dominant group, launching attacks on military bases and ambushing troops while abducting travellers at fake checkpoints.
Since 2019, the army has mostly withdrawn from villages and smaller bases into so-called “super camps”, fortified garrisons meant to give better protection against attacks.
But critics say the strategy has left jihadists with more freedom to roam untouched in rural areas and made highways vulnerable to kidnappings and assaults.