Belarus Jails Journalists For Two Years Over Protest Coverage

A file photo of a court gavel.

 

A court in Belarus on Thursday sentenced a pair of television journalists to two years in prison for covering a protest last year, the first lengthy jail term in a legal crackdown on independent news media.

Standing defiant in a cage, Katerina Bakhvalova, 27, and Daria Chultsova, 23, flashed V for victory signs as they smiled and blew kisses to the courtroom ahead of the verdict.

The two women were detained in November while filming one of the anti-government rallies that swept Belarus after strongman Alexander Lukashenko claimed victory in an August election that the opposition said was rigged.

The women, who denied their guilt on the first day of their trial earlier this month, were accused of “attracting people to participate in a mass event” via their broadcast and convicted of leading “group actions that grossly violate public order”.

Exiled opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya praised the two journalists for their defiance following the verdict.

READ ALSO: Ugandan Soldiers Jailed For Assaulting Journalists

“I know that we will not live in a cage. We will achieve truth and freedom — thanks to Ekaterina Andreyeva, Daria Chultsova, all honest journalists,” she wrote on her Telegram channel, using Bakhvalova’s pen name.

The case has sparked widespread condemnation from Western countries and advocacy groups.

Human Rights Watch on Thursday urged Belarusian authorities to “stop treating journalists as their enemies”, while the president of neighbouring Poland called for “an amnesty”.

“At the same time, Poland calls on all partners in the European Union to respond in solidarity, consistently and resolutely to the latest manifestation of suppression of fundamental rights and freedoms,” Krzysztof Szczerski, an advisor to Polish President Andrzej Duda, wrote on Twitter.

EU foreign policy spokesman Peter Stano called the case a continuation of a “shameful crackdown on media” and said the bloc “strongly condemns” the prison sentences.

– ‘Absurd situation’ –

After protests erupted last year, Belarusian authorities unleashed a crackdown that left at least four dead and thousands in jail.

Bakhvalova and Chultsova, who work for the Poland-based television channel Belsat, were detained while filming a rally in November in support of a protester the opposition believes died at the hands of Lukashenko’s security services.

“I showed these events live. For this I was thrown into jail on trumped-up charges,” Belsat reported Bakhvalova as telling the judge Wednesday in her final statement before sentencing.

“It’s an absurd situation because the journalists were just covering the protest,” her lawyer told reporters after the ruling outside the court in the Belarusian capital Minsk.

The demonstrator, 31-year-old former soldier Roman Bondarenko, died from brain damage in Minsk after police arrested him.

Investigators later said he showed signs of intoxication, but independent Belarusian media cited a doctor as saying no alcohol had been found in his system.

The journalist who published the story, Katerina Borisevich, and the doctor, Artyom Sorokin, were soon detained on charges of “divulging medical secrets, which entailed grave consequences”. They are set to face trial on Friday.

The prosecutor general’s office said in a statement Thursday that it had opened a criminal case into Bondarenko’s death.

– Growing crackdown –

Lukashenko weathered the protests and last week claimed his ex-Soviet country had defeated a foreign intervention.

As the demonstrations subside, the authorities are pursuing a number of criminal cases against activists and the press.

Eleven journalists are currently detained in connection with the protests, according to the independent Belarus Association of Journalists (BAJ).

On Wednesday a trial also began of leading opposition member Viktor Babaryko, who was arrested ahead of the presidential election after he announced he would run against Lukashenko.

The former banker was one of several opposition figures who were arrested or fled the country.

Several Western leaders have refused to recognise the election results, and the European Union has imposed sanctions on Lukashenko and his allies.

But Lukashenko continues to receive Moscow’s backing and the Kremlin said Thursday that Russian President Vladimir Putin would meet with him next week.

AFP

#EndSARS: Rinu Steps Down From Lagos Judicial Panel, Accuses FG Of ‘Cover-Up’

Rinu Oduala (File Photo)

 

One of the prominent youths in the fight against police brutality and extrajudicial killings in the country, Rinu Oduala, has stepped down from the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution set up to investigate cases of police brutality in the state.

She announced the decision in a series of tweets on Friday.

“I will be stepping down from the Lagos Judicial Panel as it is now obvious that the government is only out to use us for performative actions,” she said.

Rinu and Majekodunmi Temitope had been sworn into the panel on October 27, 2020, to represent the youths in the wake of the nationwide #EndSARS protests.

While thanking the government for the invitation and some of the successes recorded from the panel, she, however, stated that she would not be part of a cover-up.

“What I will not do is be part of a cover-up. I am proud that I took the invitation because some of the successes the panel has recorded so far have been incredibly powerful for the people,” she said.

 

 

Her decision comes days after the Judicial panel returned control of the Lekki toll gate plaza to its owners, the Lekki Concession Company (LCC).

Read Also: No Protest Will Be Allowed In Any Part Of The State, Lagos CP Warns

The toll gate had been one of the major converging points for the protesters in Lagos last year and was also the location for the infamous #LekkiShootings, masterminded by security operatives particularly men of the Nigerian Army.

During the proceedings on Saturday, the Chairman of the panel, Justice Doris Okuwobi, gave a ruling allowing the Lekki Concession Company (LCC) Ltd to repossess the toll gate – a decision that has been met with diverse views from Nigerians, many of whom are of the opinion that the toll gate should remain closed in honour of those lost their lives to the incident.

Fresh protests are believed to be looming, even as the toll gate is expected to undergo reconstruction and subsequently, resume full operations.

Reacting to the planned re-opening, Rinu said “my stand on the reopening on the toll gate is clear; the state govt & the private organisation operating the toll have not been cleared of collusion with elements allegedly deployed by the Federal Government to target citizens on home soil during a time of peace, without provocation”.

President Buhari Tolerated Excesses Of #EndSARS Protesters – Malami

 

The Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, says President Muhammadu Buhari tolerated the ‘excesses’ of #EndSARS protesters in the country, back in October 2020.

According to the AGF, that, among other actions of the president is proof of his leniency, despite what he termed as “human rights violations” in the country.

Mr Malami said this on Wednesday while addressing a number of issues from the government’s reaction to the #EndSARS protests, to the appointment of new service chiefs, the extension of the appointment of the Inspector-General of Police, among others.

“As far as Human Rights records of the government of President Muhammadu Buhari is concerned, the fact speaks for itself, the commendation by the international body which is the Committee for the Protection of Journalists, local compliance with the recommendations of the National Human Rights Commission, which has been unprecedented, tolerance and indeed, accommodation for the excesses of the #EndSARS protesters were all facts that go to establish a point that the government of President Buhari has shown greater accommodation of the human rights violation and the tolerance to the human rights record as far as the Nigerian State is concerned,” the AGF said on Channels Television’s Politics Today.

According to him, “no nation in the world could have tolerated the idea of destruction to its security institutions”.

“I think over 20 police stations or more — I’m not certain about the number, they can be more — were destroyed during #EndSARS protests and government has a responsibility to ensure the protection of lives and freedom of movement.

“We are confronted with a situation whereby #EndSARS protesters blocked roads, caused mayhem, caused deaths, caused destruction, and they were significantly tolerated to a certain extent,” he added.

Meanwhile, the AGF also reacted to the court order on the Central Bank of Nigeria to unfreeze bank accounts of #EndSARS promoters.

He explained that the law provides the Federal Government with other options which include the right to challenge or exercise further considerations on the matter if the need arises.

A Federal High Court in Abuja had earlier today, ordered the CBN to unfreeze the bank accounts of 20 #EndSARS promoters.

Justice Ahmed Mohammed gave the ruling following the agreement reached by parties in the suit to amicably resolve the matter.

READ ALSO: #EndSARS: LCC Repossesses Lekki Toll Gate

He then, set aside the November 4, 2020 order and ruled that all the accounts of the affected persons “be immediately defreezed.”

The CBN, in an exparte motion, had prayed the court to freeze the bank accounts of Bolatito Rachael Oduala and 19 others who participated in last year’s protest to end police brutality in the country.

The apex bank said it took the action to investigate the promoters of the protest on allegations bordering on terrorism financing, among others.

Fresh EndSARS Protests?

Meanwhile, the Lagos State Judicial Panel on Restitution for victims of police brutality and other related matters has returned control of the Lekki toll gate plaza to its owners, the Lekki Concession Company (LCC).

The toll gate had been one of the major converging points for the protesters in Lagos last year and was also the location for the infamous #LekkiShootings, masterminded by security operatives particularly men of the Nigerian Army.

During the proceedings on Saturday, the Chairman of the panel, Justice Doris Okuwobi, gave a ruling allowing the Lekki Concession Company (LCC) Ltd to repossess the toll gate – a decision that has been met with diverse views from Nigerians, many of whom are of the opinion that the toll gate should remain closed in honour of those lost their lives o the incident.

Fresh protests are believed to be looming, even as the toll gate is expected to undergo reconstruction and subsequently, resume full operations.

Nigerians Threaten Fresh Protests Over Reopening Of Lekki Tollgate

 

Following the move to reopen the Lekki Tollgate, many Nigerians mostly youths, have taken to social media threatening to stage another protest.

Youth representatives at the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Saturday had opposed the reopening of the Lekki toll gate arguing that reopening the toll-gate at this time would be hasty and premature.

The argument over the weekend however did not sway the votes as the panel voted in favour of a return of the tollgate to Lekki Concession Company (LCC).

Reacting to this decision, many Nigerians took to Twitter calling out the panel for approving the release of the toll gate when investigations into the Lekki shootings are still ongoing.

According to those threatening to stage another protest come Saturday, February 13, no thought of reopening should be heard at the moment, not when no one has been held accountable for the killing of unarmed protesters, who marched against police brutality on the night of October 20.

The emerging push for another long is currently being anchored on the hashtag #OccupyLekkiTollGate which has been trending on Twitter.


Youth Reps, Senior Lawyer Oppose Reopening Of Lekki Tollgate

#EndSARS: LCC Repossesses Lekki Toll Gate


This photo taken on December 7, 2020, shows the Lekki toll plaza in Lagos State.

SSANU, NASU Members Commence Three-Day National Protest

Members of the Joint Action Committee made up of NASU and SSANU protest in Abuja, the nation’s capital. PHOTO: Sodiq Adelakun/Channels TV

 

The Joint Action Committee of Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) and Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) has commenced a three-day national protest.

The protests follow an earlier statement by the NASU General Secretary, Peters Adeyemi, and the SSANU President, Mohammed Ibrahim calling on all members in branches of Universities and Inter-University centres across the nation to embark on a protest.

The protesters in Abuja comprising members occupied the main gate of UNIABUJA Main Campus.

The members are protesting over irregularities in Integrated Payroll Personnel Information System (IPPIS) payments, non-payment of Earned Allowances, non-payment of arrears in minimum wage among others.

They are also protesting the sharing formula of the N70 billion given the universities by the Federal Government.

Members of the Joint Action Committee made up of NASU and SSANU protest in Abuja, the nation’s capital. PHOTO: Sodiq Adelakun/Channels TV

 

They insist that the 75 percent and 25 percent sharing formula for the earned allowances does not favour their members.

Other issues include the delay in the renegotiation of FGN, NASU and SSANU 2009 agreement, non-payment of retirement benefits of outgone members, neglect and poor funding of state universities, and non-constitution of visitation panels for universities.

Members of the union are also protesting in the Federal University Of Technology, Owerri, Imo State; Federal University of Agriculture Makurdi, Benue State capital; the University Of Ilorin, Kwara State capital and, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi; the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Lagos State.

 

See below photos from the protest in Imo State and Abuja, the nation’s capital:

Govt. To Deal Decisively With ‘Any Act Of Hooliganism’ In Protests – Buhari

 

President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday warned that any act of hooliganism hiding behind lawful and peaceful protests will be dealt with decisively to ensure peace and stability in the country.

The President’s comment comes as some Nigerians prepared to take to the streets again in continuation of the #EndSARS protest.

“I want to reiterate our government’s commitment to the rights of citizens to embark on peaceful protests,” Buhari said while declaring open the Chief of Army Staff’s Annual Conference 2020 in Abuja.

“However, this must be done responsibly and in accordance with the laws of the land.

“I also wish to state that any act of hooliganism hiding behind lawful and peaceful protests will be dealt with decisively to ensure the peace and stability of our nation.”

The President then commended the Nigerian Armed Forces for quelling the violence that trailed the #EndSARS protests.

“I commend the Armed Force for their efforts which helped restore law and order in many states during the large-scale criminality that ensued in the wake of the #EndSARS protests,” he said.

Fighting Insecurity

In his speech, Buhari described the Year 2020 as a very challenging one, citing the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and its negative impact on almost every aspect of national life.

”Despite this, I am pleased to note that the Army remained resolute in the discharge of its Constitutional roles and in keeping the wealth and welfare of our soldiers a priority.

”The Army’s support of Civil Authorities in the management of the COVID – 19 Pandemic is a case in point.

”Also, the peaceful elections conducted in Edo and Ondo States would not have been achieved without the high level of professionalism displayed by all security agencies, including the Army,” he said at the conference themed “Human Capacity Development in Sustaining Professionalism and Responsiveness of the Nigerian Army in the Discharge of its Constitutional Roles.”

The President commended the Army for its unwavering commitment towards curtailing the activities of insurgents, armed bandits, kidnappers, cattle rustlers and other violent criminals through ongoing exercises and operations in different parts of the country.

Notably, he said the Exercise SAHEL SANITY launched a few months ago in the North West states to rid the Katsina-Zamfara corridor of marauding bandits had recorded commendable progress.

”I have also been briefed about the tremendous successes that have been achieved by troops during the ongoing Operation FIRE BALL in the North East.

”I charge you all to sustain these efforts until the full restoration of peace and security in the nation is achieved,” the President told members of the armed forces at the conference which provides an avenue for the leadership of the Army to re-assess its preparedness and operational readiness in carrying out its Constitutional roles.

Tribute To Troops

President Buhari also used the occasion to pay tribute to men and women in uniform who have paid the supreme sacrifice in the defence and security of the nation, commiserating with their families, comrades and friends.

”As we pray for the repose of their souls, we must strengthen our collective resolve to address those issues that will make every part of our country a safe and secure place to live and carry out our normal business,” he said.

He pledged that his administration will not relent in its efforts to take adequate care of families of fallen heroes who had paid the supreme sacrifice in the fight against insurgency and other forms of crimes across the country.

At the conference, the President launched the Housing scheme for Next of Kin of personnel of the Nigerian Army killed in action.

”It is in line with this that the Army as part of its welfare initiative and in line with the Federal Government’s housing programme is undertaking the Housing Scheme for families and next of kin of troops that were killed in action in the fight against insurgency and other criminalities in the country.

”I believe this initiative will act as a huge morale booster to the troops on the frontlines as well as project the Army in good light.

”On our part, I assure you that this administration will continue to do all within available resources to provide for your operational and welfare needs,” he said.

President Buhari said he had been briefed that some of the major capabilities procured for the Army will soon be inducted into the various theatres of operations, urging personnel ‘‘to make judicious use of these capabilities, even as we await the arrival of others currently pending shipment to the country.’’

On the choice of the theme of the annual conference, President Buhari noted that it is only through human capacity development that any institution can attain the level of professionalism needed to effectively and efficiently carry out its Constitutional roles.

The President, therefore, congratulated the Army on holding this Conference at the magnificent edifice housing the Army’s Cyber Warfare Command with its state-of-the-art Cyberwarfare Operations Centre, adding that this shows that the Army is alive to the changing nature of warfare which is gradually moving into the cyber domain.

”By the same token, I commend the visionary leadership that has worked assiduously to emplace this vital capability that will fill an existing gap in our nation’s security and defence architecture.

”This and other numerous infrastructural projects that have been embarked upon in recent times by the leadership of the Army has shown good utilization of scarce national resources,” he said.

Earlier, the Minister of Defence, Maj. Gen. Bashir Salihi Magashi appreciated the President for always approving funds for operations of the military in the country, assuring that all resources will be judiciously utilised.

The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, noted that the Nigeria Army was well poised to confront all security challenges, which includes cyber threats.

Buhari Will Do Whatever It Takes To Prevent Repeat Of #EndSARS Protest – Minister

President Muhammadu Buhari presided over the National Security Council (NSC) meeting at the State House on November 17.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has promised to ensure that there will be no repeat of the #EndSARS protests in the country, culminating in lootings and destruction of lives and properties.

The Minister of Police Affairs, Mohammad Dingyiadi, disclosed this to journalists on Tuesday after the President presided over the National Security Council (NSC) meeting at the State House.

“Mr President assures Nigerians that he will do whatever it takes to ensure that a repeat of the #EndSARS protest does not occur in Nigeria again,” Dingyadi said.

“Mr President assured that all stakeholders will be involved in the process of maintaining peace in the country, particularly the youth, community leaders, traditional rulers, politicians, public servants, religious leaders, etc.

“The Federal Government will continue to maintain its democratic, humane and just postures in handling security matters in the country.

“What we are saying is that government will continue to dialogue, listen and carry all stakeholders along in ensuring that there is no repeat of what happened that led to the destruction of both public and private properties”.

PHOTOS: VP Osinbajo, Service Chiefs, Others Attend As Buhari Presides Over National Security Meeting

Speaking further, Dingyadi noted that the security council highlighted with dismay, the increased cases of banditry and kidnapping especially in the northwest and north-central parts of the country.

Consequently, he said the council resolved to better equip the police with modern-day technology to handle the menace.


Watch The Video Below


 

Read Also: #EndSARS: Seun Kuti Revives Fela’s Movement Of The People, Calls For Better Governance


This is coming weeks after Nigerians took to the streets to protest incidents of police brutality and human rights violations in the country.

The demonstrations which started off peaceful across the country were, however, at some point hijacked by hoodlums and subsequently degenerated into violence that resulted in deaths, lootings and wanton destruction of property.

The unfortunate twists of events, led state governments to declare curfews as part of efforts to restore sanity.

But with many questions left unanswered and with the protests, shifting back to being strictly on social media, many have hinted at the possibility of returning to the streets to drive home their demands.

One of the most prominent incidents, fuelling the desire, especially having gained international attention is the infamous #LekkiShooting.

The incident occurred on October 20 at the Lekki Toll Gate area of Lagos State, when men in military uniform stormed the protest ground and opened fire on peaceful demonstrators.

While the army initially denied its involvement in the shootings, dismissing the reports as “fake news”, it has now come out to admit that indeed soldiers were deployed to “restore sanity” to the scene on the orders of the state government, after a curfew had been imposed.

The government is, however, yet to make any conclusive statements as to who ordered the shooting, leaving many Nigerians puzzled.

Meanwhile, most states have set up Judicial panels of inquiry and restitution to investigate cases of police brutality and to see that justice is served for all victims.

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Asides setting up the judicial panels, the last couple of weeks since the protests ended, have seen different twists including the arrest of some persons said to be financing the protests, proposing a social media bill, freezing of individuals’ bank accounts, as well as passports getting seized – actions which have all intensified speculations of the government’s attempts to clamp down on citizens’ rights.

Police Warn Against Planned Protest In Lagos

A file photo of a police officer displaying the crest of the Nigeria Police Force. PHOTO: Sodiq Adelakun/Channels TV

 

The Lagos State Police Command has warned residents against any form of planned protest, procession, or gathering under any guise in the state.

Mr Olumuyiwa Adejobi, the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, gave the warning on Thursday in a statement on behalf of the police authorities in Lagos.

He stated that the police would resist any protest as the government and people of Lagos still nurture the wounds of the recent violence that wreaked havoc across the state, following the #EndSARS protest.

“The command wishes to inform the general public that based on intelligence gathering from relevant intelligence agencies, some unpatriotic elements or group of people have concluded plans to orchestrate another set of violence in the state, in furtherance to the recent violence, which has been analysed as dangerous and counterproductive,” the statement said.

It added, “Premised on this, the command, therefore, wishes to warn any individuals, group of students or any groups who might want to stage any form of protest, either peaceful or violent, or gathering whatsoever, to desist as the police and other security agencies will collectively and tactically resist any security threats or threats to public peace which might be triggered by protest or protesters in Lagos State.”

According to Adejobi, the police command warns parents and guardians to discourage their children or wards from embarking on any protest in the state.

He explained that the possibility of armed hoodlums hijacking such protests to cause grieve and pains like the recent past was evident.

The command’s spokesman, therefore, asked law-abiding residents to ignore any call for protest and go about their lawful businesses.

He insisted that measures have been put in place to maintain law and order, as well as public safety across the length and breadth of the state.

President Buhari Urges Nigerian Youths To Shun Protests, Present ‘Concrete, Practical Ideas’

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has appealed to the youths to end street protests and participate in meaningful discussions with the government aimed at comprehensive reforms to end all forms of police brutality against Nigerians.

The President made the appeal at the maiden edition of the National Youth Day celebration, observed on November 1, coinciding with the African Youth Day celebration.

Against the backdrop of the recent protests against police brutality in the country, leading to the disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), President Buhari, who was represented by the FCT Minister, Muhammad Bello, told the gathering that the pleas of Nigerian youths have been heard by his administration.

He added that the Federal Government “now wants to hear concrete and practical ideas,” from the youths, while acknowledging their constitutional right to peaceful protests.

“You must realize that protests cannot last indefinitely. My government will not lift a hand to stop or suppress you.

“However, the fact of the matter is that other forces and actors will seek to take over your protests that they may redirect them in ways you did not intend and perhaps do not agree with.

“Every successful protest movement the world over has understood that there comes a time when activity must move from the street to the negotiation table. That time for you has come. Do not be afraid of this reality. You should welcome it,” the minister was quoted to have said in a statement signed by the Senior Special Assistant to the President Media & Publicity, Garba Shehu.

Read Also: Be Productive, Self-Reliant, Gbajabiamila Charges Nigerian Youths

He added: “It is important that we all strive to use this moment constructively. Too many people have already sacrificed too dearly. It is our duty to use this fateful situation to move ourselves to a more just and caring society.

“As youth, you have a nation and a future to build. My government will always be your faithful partner in this essential and patriotic endeavour,” he said.
President Buhari also used the occasion to express his strong opposition to the wrongful use and imposition of violent force against any innocent, law-abiding persons, particularly young people.

“No one who is obeying the law, whether they are in line waiting for a taxi or in a peaceful protest line, should be harassed or brutalized by law enforcement agencies.

“It is because of my abiding belief in the people’s constitutional rights that we moved with dispatch to abolish SARS and to consider other reforms that will enhance the quality of law enforcement and improve the relationship between the police and public which is a pre-requisite in a just society.

“To allow protests is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of strength and belief in democracy, and faith in the innate goodness of our people.

“This also shows confidence in the ability of our government to work with the people toward a reasonable and practical resolution to any challenge,” he said.
Describing Nigerian youths as agents for social change, economic growth and sustainable development, President Buhari said his administration has established no fewer than 25 initiatives aimed at empowering youths across the country.

He noted that these noble initiatives, ongoing in the last five years, were aimed at placing Nigerian youths on the path of career development, entrepreneurship, skills development and direct employment.

“Today we will unveil the official logo of the N75 billion Nigeria Youth Investment Fund for the period of 2020 – 2023.

“This novel fund is dedicated to investing in the innovative ideas, skills and talents of Nigerian Youths and to provide our youths with a special window to access much-needed financing, business management skills and other inputs critical for sustainable enterprise,” he said.

The President announced that over one million applications have already been received since the Youth Investment Fund Portal went live on 12th of October 2020.
He listed other youth-based initiatives, consistent with his administration’s policy of positioning youths for strategic leadership in different fields of endeavour, as follows:

“The birth of the Nigerian Youth Policy in 2019, the Nigeria Youth Investment Fund in July 2020, Young Farmers Initiative, Digital Skills, Entrepreneurship, Employability and Leadership/Mentoring (DEEL) programme, which recently received an approval of N4 billion naira for implementation, and the Not Too Young to Run Act.”

Other initiatives, according to the President, include the Presidential Youth Empowerment Scheme (P-YES), the N-Power, SI and Disaster Management, the Youth Entrepreneurship Support (YES) Programme, Graduate Internship Scheme (GIS) and the Youth Enterprise with Innovation In Nigeria (YouWIN).

The President also added the $20 million Technology Fund for Young Innovators as some of the major initiatives empowering youths across the country.

Restating his call for national unity, President Buhari said Nigerian youths are better positioned to drive the indivisibility of Nigeria and collectively overcome whatever challenges bedevilling the nation.

”On this special occasion, we affirm our faith and confidence in the indivisible entity called Nigeria and in its future.

”We face many challenges but, in you, this nation has the collective ability and drive to overcome that which confronts us,” he said.

At the event themed: ‘Invest in the Youth, Secure Our Future’, the winners of the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development 60-day App Challenge and Youth Innovators were recognised and received cash rewards.

#EndSARS Protest: Police Were Professional, Exercised Maximum Restraints – IGP Tells Amnesty Int’l

A file photo of IGP Mohammed Adamu. PHOTO: Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun
A file photo of IGP Mohammed Adamu. PHOTO: Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun

 

 

The Inspector-General of Police, IGP M.A Adamu, NPM, mni has insisted that officers of the Nigeria Police Force acted professionally and exercised commendable restraints during the recent protests and ensuing violence in some parts of the country.

He said some also paid the supreme price in the process.

According to a statement by the Force Public Relations Officer, Force Headquarters, Abuja, Dcp Frank Mba on Friday, the IGP made the observation following a report by Amnesty International dated October 21, that Police personnel shot at peaceful protesters.

He described the report as untrue, misleading and contrary to all available empirical evidence.

The IGP insisted that during the protests, officers of the Force used legitimate means to ensure that the protests were carried out in a peaceful manner and in most cases, physically protected and walked side-by-side with the protesters.

He reiterated that even when the protests turned violent in some parts of the country, the officers still maintained utmost restraint and did not use excessive force in managing the situations.

RELATED:

Nigerian Army Denies Shooting Protesters, Says Lagos Govt Requested Military Intervention

Bring To Justice Those Involved In Lekki Shooting, Amnesty International Tells FG


‘Discriminatory Tendencies’

Speaking further, the IGP noted that the report only covered casualties on the side of protesters, describing it as ‘discriminatory’ because the police likewise recorded several casualties.

“Available reports show that twenty-two (22) police personnel were extra-judicially killed by some rampaging protesters and scores injured during the protests. Many of the injured personnel are in life-threatening conditions at the hospitals.

“Two hundred and five (205) Police stations and formations including other critical private and public infrastructure were also damaged by a section of the protesters,” the statement read.

“Despite these unprovoked attacks, our police officers never resorted to use of unlawful force or shooting at the protesters as alleged in the report. It also beggars imagination that Amnesty International failed to mention or pay tribute to Police officers who were gruesomely murdered during the protests while serving their fatherland.

“The Force decries the discriminatory tendencies exhibited by Amnesty International as seen in the report. One wonders if in the estimation of Amnesty International, police officers are not also human beings equally entitled to the protection of their fundamental rights to life and dignity of human person.”

While noting that the Force is committed to the Federal Government’s ongoing holistic reforms of the NPF targeted at improving service delivery, positive police-citizen relationship and respect for human rights, the Police Chief enjoined Amnesty International to ensure they subject their reports to adequate scrutiny and proper verification of facts before making the reports public.

IPC, MRA Ask NBC To Withdraw Fines Against Three TV Stations Over Coverage of #ENDSARS Protests

 

Two groups, the Media Rights Agenda (MRA) and the International Press Centre (IPC) have condemned the sanctioning of three television stations by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) over the coverage of the #ENDSARS protests.

In a joint statement issued on Wednesday, the groups described the Commission’s action as an outrageous violation of the Constitution and basic principles of fair hearing which cannot be allowed to stand.

In a letter dated October 23, signed by its Acting Director-General, Prof. Armstrong Idachaba, the NBC fined each of the three stations – Channels Television, Africa Independent Television (AIT) and ARISE Television – N3 million each as penalty for their alleged use of unsubstantiated footages from social media in their coverage of the #ENDSARS protests.

To avoid further sanctions, the commission gave the companies three weeks from the date of receipt of the letter to pay the amount.

The NBC said it had earlier written to the companies on October 21, where they were “cautioned on the sustained use of Fake News, disturbing visuals, close-up shots and attacks in the coverage of the #ENDSARS protests”.

It stated that although social media may be a source of information, it is incumbent on broadcasters to verify such materials before usage, while drawing attention to some provisions of the Broadcasting Code, implying that the provisions had been breached.

No specific broadcasts were, however, mentioned.

Both organisations accused the NBC of turning itself into a “kangaroo court” and called on it to immediately reverse its decision sanctioning the three stations in order to save itself the embarrassment that both the Commission and the country would suffer locally and internationally as a result of its action.

MRA’s Executive Director, Mr Edetaen Ojo, said: “a situation where the NBC, which is so glaringly lacking in independence and subject to the direct control of political authorities, wrote the Nigeria Broadcasting Code creating the offences for which the stations were sanctioned and was the complainant in the allegations against the stations, prosecuted them and sat in judgment on the matter without even giving the stations any opportunity to defend themselves against the charges while also imposing a fine of N3 million on each of them, which it intends to collect and pocket, is offensive to any notion of fair hearing, equity or justice.”

According to Ojo, “Every Nigerian ought to be scandalized by this obscene violation of a principle that is sacrosanct not only under our Constitution but under every regional and international human rights instrument to which Nigeria is a state party. It portrays Nigeria as crude and primitive and will no doubt bring the country to ridicule.”

He pledged that his organisation would take legal action to challenge the NBC’s action.

The IPC’s Executive Director Mr Lanre Arogundade, also said: “the NBC has in this matter again constituted itself into the accuser, the prosecutor and the judge in its own case. It is indeed strange that the fines were arbitrarily imposed without giving the concerned media outlets the option of defending the allegations. All this constitutes an affront on rule of law.”

Mr Arogundade said IPC would team up with MRA to use the instrumentality of the law to challenge the absurdities perpetrated by NBC.

Lagos Catholic Archdiocese Condemns Use Of Ethnic, Religious Sentiments To Derail Protest

 

The Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos has condemned the hijacking of the peaceful protests across the country, saying that those who have brought in ethnic and religious sentiments are only aiming to derail the march to a new Nigeria.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Archbishop of Lagos, Alfred Adewale Martins, condemned the fact that the protests which started off peacefully, have degenerated into uncontrollable violence across the country and multiple divisions.

“We have witnessed an unimaginable level of vandalism and looting of both public and private properties and business not only in the Lagos but also in many other parts of our country.

“This was a sad departure from and a wicked hijack of the peaceful protests that our young people had been embarking on.

“To make matters worse, we have seen people making social media postings trying to incite ethnic and religious sentiments in order to shift focus away from a noble cause spearheaded by the young.

“Yorubaland, in general and Lagos, the commercial capital of Nigeria, in particular, has been a melting pot of people from all parts of Nigeria and indeed, from all parts of the world.

“This has been a source of strength for our country and the Church. We urge all that see such video clips and similar postings to ignore them and resist the urge to circulate them. It is very significant that some State Governors as well as many eminent Nigerians and respected groups have denounced such divisive messages,” the statement read in part.

The archbishop, therefore, called on the young people to not to allow the use of the same “old tactics of political entrepreneurs” to cause division among them and make them lose focus.

He urged them to be wise in their discernment of messages that employ ethnicity or religion in a way that excludes rather than bind people together.

According to the archbishop, the consequences of allowing such narratives to fly are too grave and the price to pay are too high and it is in the best interest of everyone to embrace harmony and peaceful co-existence so that all may live peaceably and comfortably wherever they choose to live in the country.