#Endsars: Truth And Justice Balm For A Wounded Society — Osinbajo

 

As the work of the about 30 judicial panels of inquiry established nationwide to investigate cases of police brutality against citizens and provide compensation for victims where necessary continues, the Federal Government has again assured that there would be comprehensive justice for all affected Nigerians.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, gave the assurance today in Lagos State at the launch of the Rebuild Lagos Trust Fund.

Prof. Osinbajo, on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari, extended the Federal Government’s “commiserations to the government and people of Lagos State for the loss of lives of citizens, the injured, and the colossal destruction of public and private properties, social amenities and infrastructure.”

Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial nerve centre, was both the epicenter of the #ENDSARS protests and the destruction that followed few weeks ago.

READ ALSO: EndSars: Reps Ready To Support FG’s Efforts To Rebuild Lagos, Other States – Gbajabiamila

Noting the unfortunate loss of lives and property in Lagos and across the country, the Vice President added that the whole nation was in need of healing and the Buhari administration will pursue restorative justice for all affected.

According to the VP, referencing President Buhari’s commitment to justice, “these deaths should never have happened. It is now our responsibility to honour their memory and ensure that justice is comprehensively served.

“Our State, like our Nation, is in need of healing. We recognize that the balm for a wounded society is truth and justice. This is why judicial panels of inquiry have been established all across the country. Their mandate is to investigate cases of police brutality against citizens, and where necessary compensate victims.

“Specifically, in Lagos, the mandate of the inquiry has been expanded to include a full investigation of the Lekki toll gate incidents. This process has begun and all Federal Agencies and the armed services are participating actively as Mr. President said, and I quote, ”We will also ensure that all those responsible for misconduct or wrongful acts are brought to justice.”

“The pursuit of restorative justice, recompense for injury to innocents and a reckoning for perpetrators of abuse are essential components of the moral and ethical reconstruction of our homestead. I urge all of us to give this process a chance to work and to commit to the advocacy and participation that it will take to enable this process succeed.”

The Vice President again emphasized the commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari administration to reform the Nigeria Police Force and address the root issues that led to the protests.

On the looting and destruction that followed the ENDSARS protests, the Vice President stated, “we have seen how the noblest causes, such as the ENDSARS protests designed to call attention to a serious malignant problem of brutality and extrajudicial killings, can be subverted leading to the exact opposite of its objectives, chaos, murder, looting, and arson. We saw what can happen when the restraints of law and order are loosed and anarchy is given free rein.”

“In those difficult days when chaos swept from street to street consuming lives and livelihoods, we learned that society is built on the balance between freedom and order. But we have also realized that order itself is a social construct sustained by the consent of the governed.”

He called for public and private collaboration in the rebuilding and reconstruction of the State, which he noted had not experienced such level of wanton destruction in the past.

Prof. Osinbajo said, “it is now time to rebuild. It is time for the painful and costly task of reconstruction and rehabilitation. It is now time for the private sector, our international friends and partners, and all who love this city to make their contributions to the rebuilding and reconstruction efforts. When Lagos works, it works for all.

“On the Federal Government’s part, Mr. President has said that he will await a full report from Your Excellency (Lagos State Governor) and I am sure that will be on hand soon. For businesses that were destroyed, the CBN has been developing a plan to suspend existing facilities that they may have in banks and lines of cheap credit to help them rebuild their damaged facilities and re-stock.”

While describing Lagos as Nigeria’s commercial nerve centre, the VP made reference to the socio-economic ripple effects the State has on the nation as a whole.

The Vice President added, “perhaps it is worth emphasizing that the destruction and disruption of life and work in Lagos is a national tragedy and a major economic setback for the Nation even as we face the most difficult economic challenges in our generation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is the State that leads by far in the collection of non-oil revenues. The bulk of VAT is generated here. The Lagos port, whose Marina office was attacked, generates the most revenue, and is the busiest in the Nation; the Lagos airport is the busiest in Nigeria. In so many ways our fortunes as a Nation are closely tied to the fortunes of this great State.”

According to the Vice President, the government will continue to make efforts to improve its engagement with the youth and all Nigerians, while it continues the process of holistic reforms of the Police. Prof. Osinbajo made a firm proposition for the integration of young people in the new task of repositioning society.

The Vice President noted that, “we certainly cannot afford to alienate our young people who constitute the majority of our society and bear the burden of enterprise, resourcefulness and innovation required to propel our economy into the future.

“For their sake and ours, we need a broad-based and inclusive prosperity that creates opportunities on a scale commensurate with the aspirations of our population.”

The VP added that the task of reconstruction goes beyond physical infrastructure or brick and mortar.

He said, “there is a moral, social and ethical reconstruction to be undertaken as well. We must rebuild trust between the Government and the governed; the vast majority of who are young persons; trust between law enforcement agents and the communities that they are meant to serve. Never again should law enforcement find itself on opposite sides of any conflict with society.

“We must in the process rebuild the morale of our police force, the gallant men and women who daily brave the elements to keep us all safe. The process of reform has commenced.”

Prof. Osinbajo stated that the reformed Police Act and the Police Trust Act signed by the President was part of government’s efforts in improving the Police while ensuring the rights of Nigerian citizens are protected.

“After 70 years of the Police Act, Mr. President signed the new reformed Police Act 2020 into law. The new law contains in many parts components of a charter of the rights of citizens when being questioned.

“The President has also signed into law the Police Trust Act, essentially to provide a source of extra funding for the police. Equally, the Police has also initiated its community policing programme aimed at reframing policing as an activity based on trust between law enforcement and the community,” the VP said.

The Vice President also commended the leadership shown by the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo–Olu, throughout the challenging period.

“First, Mr. Governor, you led your State’s efforts in addressing the COVID-19 Pandemic to both local and international acclaim. When State Governors under the auspices of the National Economic Council (NEC) resolved that States should establish judicial panels of inquiry, Lagos was the very first state to constitute its inquiry. Your actions have been an example of responsibility, creativity, sensitivity and resolve under pressure.”

The VP added that “Lagos and the Nation at large will emerge from this crisis better and stronger,” while noting that, “even in the darkest of clouds bear a silver lining. These trying times offer an invaluable learning opportunity, a teachable moment, and it is the lessons we draw from this period that will shape our path going forward.”

Earlier in their separate remarks, Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and the Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Godwin Emefiele, called for collaborative efforts in rebuilding Lagos, emphasizing that the level of destruction could not be handled by the State Government alone.

Mr. Emefiele then pledged the support of the organized private sector in the rebuilding of Lagos State which he noted would include the reconstruction of destroyed police stations by the private sector coalition and supporting affected private businesses to survive the devastation.

Other speakers at the event were the representative of Senate President, and Senator representing Lagos-West Senatorial District, Sen. Olamilekan Adeola, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, among others.

The Rebuild Lagos Trust Fund Board led by Mr. Yemi Cardoso was inaugurated at the event.

Osinbajo Meets With Governors, Seeks Ways Of Strengthening National Unity

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo presides over the emergency NEC meeting in Abuja on October 26, 2020.

 

The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo has met with state governors representing each of the six geopolitical zones in the country.

Meeting under the aegis of the National Economic Council (NEC), they agreed to meet with security agencies to strengthen national unity in the country.

This was disclosed in a statement issued on Tuesday by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande.

According to the statement, the terms of reference adopted were “to engage with the Security Agencies and develop ways of delivering more control to State Governors who are the Chief Security Officers of their States.”

“To recommend effective solutions to the rising divisiveness and propose ways of strengthening national unity.”

SEE FULL STATEMENT HERE:

FALLOUTS OF PROTESTS:

NEC COMMITTEE TO ENGAGE YOUTHS, OTHERS SWING INTO ACTION

*VP, Governors to interact on Zonal and State basis

#EndSARS Aftermath: NEC Committee To Engage Youths, Others

In furtherance of the resolution of an emergency meeting of the National Economic Council last week, the Ad-Hoc Committee set up to engage with youths, civil society organizations, and different strands of leadership across the nation in the wake of the recent protests have swung into action

At a meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, earlier today, the Committee decided to promptly embark on a two-pronged engagement process: Zonal and State-based respectively.

For the State-based engagements, each of the 36 State Governors and FCT Minister would meet with the leadership and representatives of the identified groups in their States. This would then be immediately followed by zonal interactions where the Vice President and members of the Committee would feature.

The engagements will not only include youth groups but also traditional, religious and political leaders. Civil society groups would also be involved as well as opinion molders like the media.

The interactions would feature issues around employment, social safety nets, and national unity and security of lives and properties among others.

Today’s meeting attended virtually by all Governors representing each of the 6 geopolitical zones in the country also formally adopted the following Terms of Reference:

  1. To engage representatives of Youths, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and others, Political, Religious, and Traditional leaders on employment and social safety net programmes among other issues.
  2. To engage with the Security Agencies and develop ways of delivering more control to State Governors who are the Chief Security Officers of their States;

iii. To recommend effective solutions to the rising divisiveness and propose ways of strengthening national unity;

  1. To develop a framework for the coordination of action steps to be taken by both the Federal and State Governments in response to the fundamental issues underlying the EndSARs Protests;
  2. To co-opt and or invite any individual or Corporate body that may facilitate the work of the Committee; and
  3. Report to Council with such recommendations as may be considered appropriate.

It would be recalled that last Thursday after more than four hours of deliberations at an emergency meeting of the National Economic Council, it was resolved that the deeper reasons behind the ENDSARS protests and its fallout should be addressed by both the Federal and State Governments.

Members of the NEC AD-HOC COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ENGAGEMENTS, all of whom attended today’s meeting are:

H.E., Prof Yemi Osinbajo, SAN – the Vice President – Chairman

H.E., Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, CFR – Sokoto State Governor representing Northwest

H.E., Prof. Babagana Umara Zulum – Borno State Governor representing Northeast

H.E., Abubakar Sani Bello – Niger State Governor representing Northcentral

H.E., Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN – Ondo State Governor representing Southwest

H.E., Engr. Dave Umahi – Ebonyi State Governor representing Southeast

H.E., Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa – Delta State Governor representing Southsouth

Laolu Akande

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity

Office of the Vice President

3rd November 2020

Osinbajo, Governors Hold Emergency National Economic Council Meeting

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo presides over the emergency NEC meeting in Abuja on October 26, 2020.

 

The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo on Monday presided over an emergency National Economic Council (NEC) meeting.

The meeting held at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, the nation’s capital with some governors in attendance.

Details later…

Ban On SARS: Osinbajo Commends IGP’s Decision, Criticises Actions Of Officers

File Photo of The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo

 

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has applauded the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu for banning the routine patrol of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) and other Tactical Squads of the Nigeria Police Force.

Speaking to State House reporters at his residence in Abuja on Sunday, Professor Osinbajo described the routine attacks on young people as infuriating.

While condemning the actions of some officers he called bad “eggs of the Force”, the Vice President asked the police to stick to their mandates.

He also commended Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) for speaking up against injustices meted out by some security operatives on young Nigerians.

Osinbajo’s remarks come shortly after IGP Adamu warned FSARS and other Tactical Squads of the Force against carrying out stop and search duties, checkpoints, mounting of roadblocks, traffic checks, etc with immediate effect.

READ ALSO: IGP Bans FSARS, Other Police Tactical Squads From Routine Patrols

According to a statement issued by the Force spokesman, Frank Mba, the police boss warned the Tactical Squads against the invasion of the privacy of citizens particularly.

SEE FULL STATEMENT FROM THE IGP HERE:

PRESS RELEASE

The Inspector-General of Police, IGP M.A Adamu, NPM, mni has banned the personnel of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) and other Tactical Squads of the Force including the Special Tactical Squad (STS), Intelligence Response Team (IRT), Anti-Cultism Squad and other Tactical Squads operating at the Federal, Zonal and Command levels, from carrying out routine patrols and other conventional low-risk duties – stop and search duties, checkpoints, mounting of roadblocks, traffic checks, etc – with immediate effect. In addition, no personnel of the Force is authorized to embark on patrols or tactical assignments in mufti. They must always appear in their police uniforms or approved tactical gear. The IGP’s directives come against the backdrop of findings by the leadership of the Force that a few personnel of the Tactical Squads hide under this guise to perpetrate all forms of illegality, contrary to the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), Code of Conduct and Rules of Engagement establishing the squads.

Specifically, the IGP has warned the Tactical Squads against the invasion of the privacy of citizens particularly through the indiscriminate and unauthorized search of mobile phones, laptops and other smart devices. They are to concentrate and respond only to cases of armed robbery, kidnapping and other violent crimes when the need arises.

The IGP notes that the FSARS and other Police Tactical Squads remain a critical component of the Force in confronting prevailing and emerging violent crimes in the country. He, however, condemns every act of unprofessionalism, abuse of human rights and high-handedness by some personnel of the Squads. He has therefore ordered the X-Squad and the Monitoring Unit to embark on immediate and massive nationwide monitoring of activities of Tactical Squads and other police officers on the road. They are to ensure prompt arrest, investigation and prosecution of all erring police officers who violate these directives and other extant regulations of the Force.

The IGP has equally warned, that henceforth, the Commissioner of Police in charge of FSARS, Commissioners of Police in charge of State Commands and the FCT as well as their supervisory Zonal Assistant Inspectors General of Police, will be held liable for any misconduct within their Area of Responsibility (AOR). He, therefore, charged them to ensure effective supervision and mentoring of the personnel of the Tactical Squads under their jurisdiction.

Meanwhile, two operatives of the FSARS and their civilian accomplice operating in Lagos State, INSPR Sale James, INSPR Monday Uchiola and Okechukwu Ogbonna, have been arrested by the Lagos State Police Command, for acts of professional misconduct including extortion and intimidation of innocent citizens. The operational vehicle of the men has also been impounded and the disciplinary procedure has already commenced against the defaulters.

The IGP reaffirms his commitment to bequeathing to Nigerians, a reformed Police Force that is accountable, responsible and ever ready to defend and uphold the rights of the citizens while discharging its duties of keeping the people safe and secure. He enjoins the citizens not to allow the misconduct by a few personnel of the Force to negatively impact on their belief, confidence and trust in the Police.

DCP FRANK MBA

FORCE PUBLIC RELATIONS OFFICER

FORCE HEADQUARTERS

ABUJA

Why Merit Is Crucial To Economic Growth –  Osinbajo

File Photo: Vice President Yemi Osinbajo

 

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says Nigeria’s desire and pursuit of economic growth and sustainable development is best achieved through the adoption of merit as a national value.

He made the remarks in a keynote address delivered at the Nigeria Leadership Initiative (NLI) webinar series with the title, “A National Conversation on Rebuilding our National Values System.”

“Meritocracy is crucial in an economically viable value system because it rewards talent and enterprise. And it is talent and enterprise that would drive sustainable growth,” Osinbajo was quoted as saying in a statement issued by his spokesman, Laolu Akande.

Osinbajo emphasised on the importance of merit to sustainable growth, adding that the system should be built on trust.

According to the Vice President, economic growth rests upon the substructure of values.

SEE FULL STATEMENT HERE:

STATE HOUSE PRESS RELEASE

OFFICE OF THE VICE PRESIDENT

WHY MERIT IS CRUCIAL TO ECONOMIC GROWTH, BY VP OSINBAJO

*Our value system must conduce to the development

Nigeria’s desire and pursuit of economic growth and sustainable development is best achieved through the adoption of merit as a national value, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.

The Vice President made the remarks in a keynote address delivered at the Nigeria Leadership Initiative (NLI) webinar series themed: “A National Conversation on Rebuilding our National Values System”.

“Meritocracy is crucial in an economically viable value system because it rewards talent and enterprise. And it is talent and enterprise that would drive sustainable growth”, Prof. Osinbajo affirmed.

Stressing the point about the importance of merit to sustainable growth, the Vice President said, “Economic growth rests upon the substructure of values. The basis of the entire credit system as we know it, is trust. Indeed, the word credit is derived from the Latin word “credere” —to believe or to trust. For a credit facility to be extended to a person, trust is placed in the borrower and his or her willingness and ability to repay.

“When we say that there is a credit crunch, we are referring to a lack of trust. This has significant implications for the economy.  Banks cannot lend to people when fraud is widespread, and enterprise and industry cannot flourish without credit.”

Explaining further, Prof. Osinbajo said “financial institutions may also be reluctant to lend because they cannot trust that the government will remain consistent with regulatory policies. For the same reason, investors may be discouraged from investing. When we speak of investor confidence, we are merely describing the level of trust investors are willing to place in an environment.

“Citizens who do not trust that their taxes will be embezzled due to official corruption are unlikely to see any value in paying their taxes. If people stop trusting the media, they are more likely to fall prey to merchants of fake news which can have a destabilizing effect on a nation. Where everyone is self-seeking there can be no trust and without trust, it is impossible to sustain an open society. The significance of trust for the workings of the economy and society are far-reaching.”

In a speech that clearly proposes that merit can also be worked into the implementation of the Federal Character Principles, the Vice President submitted that stakeholders must focus their attention on merit as a crucial factor for society’s economic survival, social justice and in having an economically viable value system.

According to him, “Meritocracy is crucial as a value in and of itself. The moment that we depart from meritocracy, we cannot tie our value system to develop in any meaningful way. Our public institutions must be equipped to provide opportunities, regardless of tribe, religion or gender, but the primary criterion must be merit.”

The Vice President noted that the nation’s value system must provide “a causal connection with our economic development. In other words, we must be able to say that these sets of values conduce to economic development in a particular way. And it must also be one that is capable of showing us or the individual, that happy society, a community of people that are prepared to live and work together, is possible on account of this value system.”

“While inequalities may be addressed by affirmative provisions such as Federal Character, the primary consideration should be merit,” Prof. Osinbajo noted.

Providing more insights, he said “time and time again, we get arguments around the question as to whether the dominant principle in appointments to public institutions should be Federal Character. The dominant principle should be merit, Federal Character is essentially affirmative. What it seeks to do is to create a balance. But even if we are to create that balance, it should still be based on merit.

“For example, if we say that a particular zone should produce a particular candidate for whatever position, that zone should be able to produce the best.  What you find, repeatedly, is the situation where the choices are not based on merit, and everything goes around the question of trying to create a balance.”

Situating the values system in the context of society’s development aspirations, the Vice President said: “shaping our discussion on values as a fundament of development is also important because it helps to focus the individual and communal mind on survival especially economic survival which is dear to the heart of all.”

He said “the value system that we need is one that promotes national development, especially economic development and especially socio-economic development. And it must be capable of engendering unity and a shared vision. It must provide a causal connection with economic development. The end result is the creation of a happy society.”

Continuing, he maintained that “for purposes of national unity, for example, we must accept that unity and peace are important outcomes, but the condition predicate for both unity and peace is justice (both legal and social justice). So, in our context, justice includes the notions of fairness, equity, and equality.

Citing relevant portions of the Nigerian Constitution to explain the relevance of merit in a viable value system, the Vice President said: “in our context, justice includes the notions of fairness, equity, equality and it is significant that our Constitution is actually replete with references to these themes”.

“Our Constitution affirms that “the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be a state based on the principles of democracy and social justice”, and it also asserts that “the State social order is founded on ideals of Freedom, Equality and Justice.” So, it is obvious that the mandates of our public institutions must be to transparently ensure that there is fairness in the availability of opportunity to all regardless of tribe, religion or gender, or any other considerations.”

Underscoring the importance of the rule of law to the subject matter, the Vice President said “the administration of justice, is at the heart of the beneficial value system. The uncompromising prosecution of criminal activity, the fair and just adjudication of civil disputes, are fundamental to any notion of a strong value system.”

He noted that “institutions that must deliver these values, must themselves be deliberately invested in, both in terms of material infrastructure and the quality of personnel. Where the institutions for the resolution of conflicts and disputes are trusted and judicial outcomes are preponderantly fair and predictable, unity and stability are more likely. And this is very important especially with respect to judicial institutions.”

On his part, former Head of State, Yakubu Gowon (Rtd) emphasized the need to re-engineer the National Youth Service Corps scheme and reinvigorate the studies of History in schools, to reclaim lost values in the society.

He said the nation’s reward system should be linked to a renewed national value system, noting that Nigerians should be defined by established core values.

In the same vein, the President of the Senate, Sen. Ahmed Lawan, pledged the support of the National Assembly in ensuring curriculum alignment to the value rebuilding processes and called for a re-engineering of family ethics to support the entire reconstruction process.

Other speakers at the event include former Nigeria High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Dr Christopher Kolade; Chairman of First Bank, Nigeria, Mrs Ibukun Awosika, among other notable Nigerians.

Laolu Akande

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity

Office of the Vice President

4th October 2020

SERAP To Buhari: Emulate Kebbi Deputy Governor’s Steps And Publish Your Assets

 

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo to “follow a good example of Mr Yombe Dabai Samaila, deputy governor Kebbi state, by immediately publishing their asset declaration forms.”

The call was made on Sunday via a statement issued by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare.

According to the group, Mr Samaila forwarded his asset declaration form to the organisation last week in response to SERAP’s suit.

While making reference to the form dated May 28, 2019, and sworn to before the High Court of Justice, Birnin Kebbi, Kebbi State, the organisation claimed that Mr Samaila declared assets, including landed property and cash in banks, valued at N353,136,378.56.

In a suit with number FHC/ABJ/CS/65/2020 filed in January 2020, SERAP asked the Federal High Court, Abuja to order President Buhari, Vice-President Osinbajo, 36 state governors and their deputies to “make public details of their assets, specifically property and income, contained in their asset declaration forms submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) since assuming office.”

“We welcome Mr Samaila’s demonstrated commitment to transparency and accountability, especially at a time when many government officials and institutions continue to exhibit a blatant disregard for Freedom of Information requests by refusing to even acknowledge several of such requests.

“President Buhari and Vice-President Osinbajo should show leadership by immediately widely publishing their asset declaration forms, just as Mr Samaila has rightly done.

READ ALSO: Pastor Adeboye Calls For The Restructuring Of Nigeria

“We also call on Mr Abubakar Bagudu, governor Kebbi state and other governors and their deputies to emulate and learn from Mr Samaila’s good example by immediately publishing their assets,” the statement partly read.

 

SEE FULL STATEMENT HERE:

SERAP to Buhari, Osinbajo: Follow Kebbi deputy governor’s example, publish your assets

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice-President Professor Yemi Osinbajo to “follow a good example of Mr Yombe Dabai Samaila, deputy governor Kebbi state, by immediately publishing their asset declaration forms.”

Mr Samaila while responding to SERAP’s suit had last week forwarded his asset declaration form to the organization. The form dated 28 May 2019, and sworn to before the High Court of Justice, Bikebbi, Kebbi state, shows that Mr Samaila declared assets, including landed property and cash in banks, valued at N353,136,378.56, from which he stated that he receives N61,500,000.00 yearly as income.

SERAP had in suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/65/2020 filed in January 2020 asked the Federal High Court, Abuja to order President Buhari, Vice-President Osinbajo, 36 state governors and their deputies to “make public details of their assets, specifically property and income, contained in their asset declaration forms submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) since assuming office.”

In a statement dated 4 October 2020 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “We welcome Mr Samaila’s demonstrated commitment to transparency and accountability, especially at a time when many government officials and institutions continue to exhibit a blatant disregard for Freedom of Information requests by refusing to even acknowledge several of such requests.”

SERAP said: “President Buhari and Vice-President Osinbajo should show leadership by immediately widely publishing their asset declaration forms, just as Mr Samaila has rightly done. We also call on Mr Abubakar Bagudu, governor Kebbi state and other governors and their deputies to emulate and learn from Mr Samaila’s good example by immediately publishing their assets.”

SERAP also said: “President Buhari and Vice-President Osinbajo should stand up for transparency in asset declarations by public officers as a sign of their oft-repeated principled stand on transparency and accountability in the management of the country’s resources. This government’s stated commitment to fight corruption will ring hollow as long as Buhari and Osinbajo continue to ignore repeated requests to publish their asset declaration forms.”

Mr Samaila’s letter dated 4 September 2020, and signed on his behalf by Nura Abdullahi Koko, Director of Administration, read in part: “In reference to your Freedom of Information request and suit, I am directed by Mr Samaila Yombe Dabai, Deputy Governor Kebbi state to forward herewith a copy of his assets declaration as requested by SERAP.”

“While thanking you for your understanding, please accept the assurance of the Deputy Governor best regards always.”

Mr Samaila’s assets declaration form, read in part: “Cash in Nigerian banks: N364,420, in a bank in Lagos, which is money from my military pension. N1,471, 958.56 in another bank in Kaduna, which is money from my personal income. I have no cash in foreign banks.”

“I bought a 3-bedroom flat [upstairs] in Kebbi state through my military savings and business income in 1984, and the property is valued at N16m. I also have a 6-bedroom and 2 Guest House of 3-bedroom in Kebbi state, valued at N38m. I have a 4-bedroom duplex in Asokoro, Abuja, which I bought in 2017 through personal income. I have no vacant/undeveloped plots.”

“I have a 2-bedroom flat in Kaduna state, and the property is valued at N30m. I bought it in 2001 through savings from business income. I earn N1m yearly from the property. I also have 48 hectares of farmland in Kaduna state, as a gift from the Emir of Dande in 1983. The property is valued at N10m. I make N2.5m yearly from the property.”

“I have a company named Yomed Nigeria Limited, Kaduna, which deals in air services, primary school and agriculture service equipment. The company was established in 2007 and is valued at N98m. I make N28m monthly as income from the company.”

“I also bought CESSNA 206 Aircraft, Kaduna in 2014, and it is valued at N99.6m, and I make N30m yearly as income from this.”

“I bought a Ford Bus Caravan in 2017, valued at N1.5m; Toyota Tundra in 2012 valued at N3m; Range Rover Jeep in 2013 valued at N7m; and another Ford Bus Caravan in 2016 valued at N5.2m.”

“I have 2 set of furniture and electronics in Kaduna and Zuru, which I bought between 2013—2019, and the property is valued at N3m. My wife owns a property valued at N25m but my children own no property. I have no government securities, no shares in and outside Nigeria.”

It would be recalled that SERAP had in its suit asked the court to grant “an order for leave to apply for judicial review and an order of mandamus to direct and/or compel President Buhari, Vice-President Osinbajo, 36 state governors and their deputies to make public their summary of assets; disclose whether they have had any reason to review and update their asset declarations submitted to the CCB, and if the declarations have been made as constitutionally and statutorily required.”

In the suit, SERAP is seeking “an order to compel President Buhari, Vice-President Osinbajo, 36 state governors and their deputies to disclose whether they have received any confirmation of the verification of their asset declarations by the CCB and to disclose whether they have taken any steps to encourage members of their cabinet to also submit their asset declarations to the CCB, and to make such declarations public.”

SERAP is also seeking: “a declaration that the failure of President Buhari, Vice-President Osinbajo, 36 state governors and their deputies to provide SERAP with the requested information on their assets constitutes a breach of SERAP’s right under the FoI Act, 2011, and such further order(s) the Honourable Court may deem fit to make in the circumstances.”

The suit followed SERAP’s Freedom of Information (FoI) requests dated 3 January 2020, expressing concern that: “The non-public disclosure by public officials of their summary of assets undermines the effectiveness and integrity of the constitutional and statutory obligations to submit asset declarations.”

The FoI requests, read in part: “By a combined reading of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), the FoI Act, and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, President Buhari, Vice-President Osinbajo, 36 state governors and their deputies ought to be directed and compelled to make public their asset declarations as submitted to the CCB.”

According to SERAP, two states — Lagos State and Niger State — have responded to its FoI requests. But both states declined the requests to make public the assets of their governors and deputies, on the ground that “the FoI Act is inapplicable to state governments, their agencies and officials, and that only houses of assembly of states are constitutionally empowered to make laws on public records of states.”

Also, while reacting to SERAP FoI request to President Buhari, Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, had said: “SERAP asking the president to declare publicly, on the basis of what law? The president will do what the law requires of him and what the law requires is that he should declare his asset which he has done. Declaring publicly is not in our laws; it can only be a voluntary thing.”

Kolawole Oluwadare

SERAP Deputy Director

4/10/2020

Lagos, Nigeria

We Will Focus On Autogas As Alternative To Petrol –Osinbajo

File Photo: Vice President Yemi Osinbajo

 

The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, says the Federal Government would focus on autogas as an alternative to the Premium Motor Spirit (PMS).

In a statement issued on Saturday by Osinbajo’s spokesman, Laolu Akande, the Vice President disclosed this during a virtual interactive session hosted by the Africa Report magazine on Thursday.

SEE FULL STATEMENT HERE:

STATE HOUSE PRESS RELEASE

OFFICE OF THE VICE PRESIDENT

We Will Focus On Auto Gas As Alternative To Petrol –Osinbajo

*Use of Compressed Natural Gas part of ESP

*VP says no plan to increase taxes

In a determined effort to offer Nigerians an effective option to petrol, the Federal Government will focus on developing Compressed Natural Gas otherwise known as autogas, which is priced significantly lower than PMS.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, stated this during a virtual interactive session hosted by the Africa Report magazine on Thursday.

Answering a participant’s questions regarding the removal of petrol subsidy, the Vice President said: “we have experienced a severe downturn in our finances over the years, so at 60 per cent less revenue, we are in a position where sustaining fuel subsidies is practically impossible simply because we do not have the resources.”

According to him, “what we have decided to do is to focus on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) which is about half the price of petrol today. So, if we use CNG for our cars and for our buses, it will cost between N78 and N80 or so per liter.”

Under the Nigerian Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP), the Federal Government’s objective is to promote domestic use of CNG and support the creation of 1 million jobs by maximizing the domestic use of CNG while reducing reliance on refined petroleum products like kerosene and Premium Motor Spirit (PMS).

Responding to a question regarding increase in taxes, the Vice President noted that the administration has no plans of increasing taxes, stating that “our position really is that, this is hardly the time to raise taxes”.

According to him, “It is even more difficult for people to pay taxes now than ever before, I mean, given the state of affairs, but this is why we’re doing everything now.

“We are trying to ensure that businesses survive this period by providing as much support as we can, and by relieving them of as much burden as possible and ensuring that they are able to get some moratorium so that they can at least continue to run their businesses and by all the other interventions and support that we are giving, we hope that those interventions will help businesses.

“Our approach is first to ensure that we save jobs. If we save jobs and save businesses, and then do the best we can in agriculture, the housing scheme and all of that, we will actually be able to improve spending and if we are able to improve spending, taxes will definitely improve, and if businesses survive, taxes will improve. So, those are the sort of projections that we are looking at.”

It would be recalled that the 2020 Finance Act exempts businesses generating less than N25 million in annual turnover from Companies Income Tax. Also, businesses with a turnover of between N25m and N100m will only pay 20% Companies Income Tax instead of the 30% which was the former applicable rate.

The Vice President had recently said it is the plan of the Buhari administration to put money in the hands of Nigerians.

Addressing concerns raised about electricity tariffs, the Vice President said the era of subsidizing petrol and electricity was over, noting that government has adopted measures of addressing the situation.

His words: “What we are trying to do is to ensure that we are able to reform the electricity industry. The industry is privatized except for the transmission sector. But what we have seen is that the distribution companies (DisCos) are just not able to meet their targets or to even provide electricity on any kind of stable basis now.

“The DisCos have been hankering all these years for a cost-reflective tariff and government has been paying the subsidy. In fact, in the past few years, we have spent about N1.3 trillion on subsidies for electricity. Again, here is a situation where that is completely unaffordable.

“We want to ensure that new companies come into the market. So, that will be decentralized completely. This way, in several parts of our country, we can have micro-grids, small grids, and all of that. We are doing 5 million solar connections as part of the Economic Sustainability Plan. We think that, with all these, we can electrify our country within a short period of time.”

The Vice President added that the overall target of government in the Economic Sustainability Plan is to save existing jobs and revamp businesses by improving the spending capability of Nigerians through the various initiatives in industry, agriculture, mass housing, and the solar connectivity projects.

Over 1, 200 persons on different platforms across the world, participated in the virtual event tagged by Africa Report, the organisers as Digital Dialogues.

 

Laolu Akande

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity

Office of the Vice President

26th September 2020

COVID-19: Our Recovery From The Pandemic Must Be Innovative, Says Osinbajo

Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo

 

How Nigeria harnesses and deploys technology and innovation to address emerging challenges will be crucial to the country’s recovery from the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

Prof. Osinbajo stated this on Monday at the virtual conference of the Centre for Lion Gadgets & Technologies (University of Nigeria, Nsukka) themed “Technological Innovation for Holistic Sustainable Development”. The event also featured a virtual interaction between the Vice President and students both from the university and the secondary school in the UNN campus.

Speaking about the importance of technology and innovation in resolving society’s numerous problems, the Vice President said “we must creatively imagine and pioneer our way out.”

According to him, “we are in one of the worst health and economic crises in living memory and our recovery must be innovative – we must employ never-before-seen methods to fight the never-before-seen plethora of issues before us. Whether we are discussing the delivery of social services to vulnerable communities and promoting financial inclusion or we are talking about boosting agricultural productivity and promoting the security of our communities, how we harness technology is crucial.

“The future will be decided in groups such as yours, where young Nigerians are actively thinking about how to deploy technology in creative ways for problem-solving.”

The Vice President however noted that such innovative ideas must be deployed in a manner that is inclusive and accessible to all Nigerians including the poor and vulnerable.

“…in thinking about solutions to our developmental issues, we are expected to be both creative, relevant and ingenious, which is what innovation is all about. But we must also be faithful stewards of our environment, we must be inclusive, innovation must be accessible to all especially the poor and vulnerable.

“So, innovating for sustainable development involves creating environmentally friendly low cost and contextually relevant technological solutions to our most pressing challenges,” Prof. Osinbajo added.

In his words, “recently the Nigeria Climate Innovation Center concluded its Climate LaunchPad, and some very innovative ideas were unveiled. One of the innovator companies, New Digits, generates power from water, the product uses water and conformed solar cells to generate energy for electricity and cooking. It actually works by collecting water automatically from any piping channel in the house, breaks down the water into Hydrogen which is used to cook and to power the entire house without the need for batteries of any kind.”

He gave another example: “PowerStove Energy, founded by three young Nigerians, Okey, Abdulaezze and Glory. What they did was that they produced a low-cost, clean smokeless cookstove. PowerStove Energy is the first clean cookstove to be fitted with self-powered Internet of Things (IoT) cloud system to monitor in real-time, every day that cooking is done, the amount of Co2 that is used and biomass saved, black carbon prevented and total electricity generated. All of that is monitored in real-time every day.”

Continuing, the Vice President said “…everyone is turning to technology in search of new ways to solve age-old problems. So, we have health tech firms like 54Gene who are using technology to harness African genomic data and transform how we are able to study and diagnose diseases. This is so that you can grow up in a society where healthcare research can serve you better, an illustrative example of how technological innovation can be used for sustainable development.

“In education too, Covid-19 has shown us just how adaptive we can be and there are a number of ed-tech firms such as lessons, where students can take lessons and tests on an app. If scaled, this could revolutionize how we approach challenges with access to education.”

Acknowledging that the relationship between industry and the Universities can be better, the Vice President pledged the support of the Federal Government to universities especially in enhancing their capacity for research and innovation.

He said “Government is prepared but the university needs to do more by being proactive in the links with industry. Industry, as you know, is interested in commerce. If it will make a profit and money, the industry is interested. I think that a lot of the innovations we are seeing are certainly profitable and can be lucrative. But where the government can come in is where there are needs for additional support to make the research easier or cheaper for the public to access. So, I certainly look forward to the cooperation between the Federal Government and the University of Nigeria.”

Interacting with Nigerian Students drawn from both the University and the campus secondary school in the South-Eastern part of the country at the event, Prof. Osinbajo spoke about specific innovation projects especially among young people across the country.

“We started the Students Innovation Challenge for all universities in Nigeria. We came as far as the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. There is a hub called the Genesis Hub where the competition took place for the South East. Three winners emerged from the University of Nsukka. And each of them got N1 million, and there were 25 of them that emerged winners at the competition. The Innovation Challenge is our commitment. We are committed to ensuring that innovation is done on a continuous basis,” the Vice President stated.

Earlier in his remark, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Nigeria Nsukka, Prof. Charles Igwe, said the university has, over the years, prioritized the deployment of technology in achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Other participants at the conference include former Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi; Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, the Most Rev. Paulinus Eze Okafor, among others.

Laolu Akande
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity
Office of the Vice President
21st September 2020

ECOWAS Heads Of State Agree To Reject Forceful Change Of Govt In Mali

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo meets with other ECOWAS leaders in Ghana on September 15, 2020.

 

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Heads of State have unanimously agreed to reject the forceful change of government in Mali.

Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo disclosed this on Tuesday while speaking after representing President Muhammadu Buhari at the extraordinary summit of the ECOWAS on the situation in Mali.

He said the region’s leaders agreed that the transition to democratic rule in Mali must take a maximum of 18 months and the transitional government should be heeded by a civilian.

The Vice President was accompanied by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Mr Zubairu Dada and is now on his way back to the country from Ghana.

The West African leaders said they hope to see a civilian-led transition government installed in Mali “in days” following the talks with the military junta that seized power in the fragile state last month.

ECOWAS slapped sanctions on the country after the putsch, including closing borders and a ban on trade and financial flows, and has called for elections within 12 months.

Read Also: ECOWAS Hope For Mali Civilian Transition ‘In Days’

“We need a civilian leadership of the transition,” Ghana President Nana Akufo-Addo, who currently chairs ECOWAS, told journalists after hosting the meeting.

“The minute that leadership is put in place through the processes they themselves have agreed upon in Mali, the sanctions that have been placed against Mali will be lifted by ECOWAS.”

Akufo-Addo said that a mediator from the bloc would travel to Bamako in a week and that regional leaders wanted the process finished.

“I’m hoping that by the time he gets there these things would have been completed,” the Ghanaian leader said.

“We’re talking hopefully in days not in weeks.”

ECOWAS had given Mali’s new military rulers until Tuesday to name a civilian president and prime minister to head a transitional government.

The junta missed that deadline but its leader Colonel Assimi Goita, who was appointed interim head of state, attended the talks in Ghana on his first trip abroad since his seizure of power.

Victims Of Sexual Abuse Can Not Be Blamed For Harassment, Says Osinbajo

The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, gives a speech virtually

 

The Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, has urged Nigerians, not to blame victims of sexual abuse for their harassment.

He noted that the victims are not the architects of their fate especially by their attitude, dressing or willingness to be in a compromising place with their violators.

“The victim must always be seen as the victim and not to be blamed,” the Vice President said.

“There cannot be an excuse, especially given the power configuration between students and lecturers, that the victim could have somehow invited the abuse upon themselves. I think it is an important consideration to be made and we must not allow that notion to persist.”

He stated this on Wednesday at a webinar on Anti-Sexual Harassment themed “Finding Safe Spaces for Female Students in Nigerian Universities”, organized by the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife.

 

Read Full Statement Below

OFFICE OF THE VICE PRESIDENT
PRESS RELEASE

WE REJECT NOTION THAT SEXUAL HARASSMENT VICTIMS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ABUSE, SAYS OSINBAJO

*Adds: “offenders should be visited with the strictest possible consequences”

The notion that victims or potential victims of sexual harassment are architects of their fate especially by their attitude, dressing or willingness to be in a compromising place with their violators is wrong and should be resisted in every situation. The victim must always be seen as the victim and not to be blamed.

This was the views of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, in his contributions on Wednesday at a webinar on Anti-Sexual Harassment themed “Finding Safe Spaces for Female Students in Nigerian Universities”, organized by the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife. The event was based on the book authored by notable journalist and former presidential spokesman, Mr Olusegun Adeniyi, titled NAKED ABUSE: SEX FOR GRADES IN AFRICAN UNIVERSITIES.

According to him, “the victim must always be seen as the victim. There cannot be an excuse, especially given the power configuration between students and lecturers, that the victim could have somehow invited the abuse upon themselves. I think it is an important consideration to be made and we must not allow that notion to persist.”

Advocating stricter punishments for rape offenders especially in situations involving lecturers and their female students, Prof. Osinbajo said “there cannot be an excuse especially given the power configuration between students and lecturers that the victim could have somehow invited the abuse upon themselves. I think it is an important consideration to be made and we must not allow that notion to persist.”

Continuing, the Vice President said “there is also the comparison sometimes made between demanding bribes for service and sex for grades. Sometimes people will argue that a bribe is a bribe and there is no reason why the punishment for sex as the currency of the bribe, should be stricter than an ordinary bribe.”

Referring to Adeniyi’s book, Prof. Osinbajo said developing and adhering to a set of ethical codes of conduct for conversations and interactions involving lecturers and students in universities would greatly address the problem.

He said: “to ensure that both faculty and students are sufficiently clear about the issues and rules, there is a need for a code of conduct or ethical guidelines based on best practices in appropriate student/lecturer interactions.

“It is important that these are clearly defined in ethical guidelines that are contained in some documents that people can refer to and see. It is important both for the lecturer and the student that there is some reference to some code of conduct.”

Speaking further on ways of resolving issues around sexual harassment in Nigerian universities, Prof. Osinbajo said the search for answers to creating safe spaces for female students in universities must begin from the question of why is it that such an evidently rampant crime is so under-reported?

According to him, “there are obviously many cases of people who share their anecdotal experiences without necessarily reporting to the authorities. I think the answer is clearly that this low reportability is on account of the fact that many victims do not feel confident that they will get redress, or that they will be treated fairly or that they will not be visited with the same fearful consequences that was the subject of the demand in the first place.

“The fear that they will neither get a sympathetic nor understanding hearing, let alone justice, and that they will end up suffering the same consequences the predator had threatened would occur if they did not submit to their demands. Then there is of course, the shame and stigma that could attend speaking up.”

“I think that in ensuring that we create safe spaces, we must do at least the basics, which is providing the support and resources they need to report abusers. Every institution must make it easy for victims or potential victims to report perpetrators to trusted formal structures or secure channels created specifically for the purpose of resolving such cases,” the Vice President added.

Prof. Osinbajo also recommended the adoption of a mandatory “well-thought-out whistleblower process emphasizing confidentiality, professional legal and medical help for victims or potential victims.”

Dignitaries who also spoke at the webinar besides Adeniyi, the Guest Speaker, included the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege; the Kwara State Governor, Alhaji Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq; the First Lady of Ekiti State, Mrs Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi; and the Vice-Chancellor of OAU, Prof. Eyitope Ogunbode.

Meanwhile, in another development, Prof. Osinbajo has underscored the synergy between the legislature and the executive in supporting policies and programmes of the administration especially those geared towards boosting the nation’s economic base.

The Vice President stated this on Wednesday at a virtual Citizens’ Dialogue on the Green Imperative Project. The Green Imperative Project is a bilateral initiative between the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Brazilian government to develop Nigeria’s agricultural production base through a mechanization programme that is spread across the 774 Local Government Areas in the country.

Laolu Akande
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity
Office of the Vice President
9th September 2020

CAMA: Religious Leaders Are Worried About Abuse Of Processes – Osinbajo

File: The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, gives a speech virtually at the NBA Annual General Conference on August 27, 2020.

 

Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, has said that the major concern of religious leaders with the recently enacted Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) 2020 is the fear that the processes are not abused in a way that compromises the entire structure and operation of the organisation

Professor Osinbajo who spoke during the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Annual General Conference on Thursday stated that these leaders want to be accountable, contrary to views based on reactions to a section of the act.

He maintained that the CAMA 2020 is massive legislation that covers a wide range of issues on companies and if a section is contentious, what the aggrieved parties can do is to approach the National Assembly and propose an amendment.

“As a general position, I do not think it will be right to say that pastors don’t want to be accountable. I believe that several Christian organizations and pastors are willing to be accountable. The problem that they may have is ensuring that processes are not abused in such a way as to compromise the entire organization. And I think that if all that is required is some process of accountability, I think it will be easier for organizations to accept that.

“The concern of the Churches is that it could lead to a situation where practically anybody could be appointed as a trustee to oversee the Church and a Church or a Mosque is a spiritual organization and if you do not share the same faith with the Church or Mosque, you may be the wrong person and if a wrong is appointed, you may create more trouble for the organization.

“What can be done is that, whatever the proposal for amendment may be, whatever the views of the leadership of the church may be, regarding the question of how the trustees, whether they are interim trustees or not, can be put in the form of a proposal that will be taken to the National Assembly for consideration for an amendment to the law, that is the process which is entirely opened and ought to be pursued,” the Vice President added.

READ ALSO: Nigeria’s Capital Investment Inflows Drop To $1.29bn In Q2 2020

CAMA Fears

President Muhammadu Buhari signed the CAMA bill into law in August, repealing and replacing the extant 1990 act, with the aim that the new legislation will be the most significant in three decades, promoting the ease of doing business, while reducing regulatory hurdles in the country.

However, a portion of the legislative piece tagged Incorporated Trustees, states that religious bodies and charity organisations will now be strictly regulated by the Registrar-General of the Corporate Affairs Commission and the supervising minister.

Additional clauses in the act show that the commission can suspend the trustees of an association and appoint an interim manager to run the affairs of the organisation

But Vice President Osinbajo clarified that the section will affect these organisations; “Churches, Mosques, and church organizations are regarded as charities. It is the Incorporated Trustees Section of the Companies and Allied Matters Act that has become controversial. And because churches are charities, the provisions in the incorporated trustees’ section obviously affect the churches.

“What the Churches are concerned about is a provision that says that in the event that some wrong-doing is found to be perpetrated by the trustees of the particular organization or Church, the Registrar-General of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) can go to court and get an order to appoint interim administrators or interim trustees for the Church or whichever charity organization and manage the organization.”

C.A.N Talks Tough

Meanwhile, the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) kicked against the act and called on President Buhari to suspend the law in the interest of the country.

“While we are not against the government fighting corruption wherever it may be found, yet we completely reject the idea of bringing the Church, which is technically grouped among the NGOs, under control of the government. The Church cannot be controlled by the government because of its spiritual responsibilities and obligations. This is why we are calling on the Federal government to stop the implementation of the obnoxious and ungodly law until the religious institutions are exempted from it.

“How can the government sack the trustee of a church which it contributed no dime to establish? How can a secular and political minister be the final authority on the affairs and management of another institution which is not political? For example, how can a non-Christian head of Government Ministry be the one to determine the running of the church? It is an invitation to the trouble that the government does not have the power to manage. Let the government face the business of providing infrastructure for the people.”

FG Will Effectively Deal With Southern Kaduna Crisis, Says Osinbajo

The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, gives a speech virtually at the NBA Annual General Conference on August 27, 2020.

 

The Muhammadu Buhari administration will not sweep the major issues underlying the crisis in Southern Kaduna under the carpet, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said.

Professor Osinbajo gave the assurance on Thursday during a special conversation featuring him and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, at the ongoing Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Annual General Conference.

He listed the issues to include ensuring justice, fixing economic marginalisation and the prosecution of persons responsible for the murders.

The Vice President who stated that the government would ensure that the impunity does not worsen urged those who have concerns about the recently signed CAMA legislation to approach the National Assembly for possible amendments.

“I have been involved since 2001 through the work of the Macedonian initiative, an NGO that focused on providing relief materials to displaced persons in Southern Kaduna and several other places, especially in the north-central part of Nigeria,” he said on the way forward in the Southern Kaduna conflict and making reference to his personal experience.

Professor Osinbajo added, “There have been judicial commissions and all sorts, but the problem remains. So, there is the need to address the underlying issues. You can’t sweep under the carpet, justice and the cries of economic marginalisation.

“The fact is that we must prosecute persons responsible for these murders or otherwise impunity will worsen, and also support those who have lost their breadwinners.”

According to the Vice President, the mindless callous killings in Southern Kaduna are heart-breaking and unacceptable as they are avoidable.

He stressed the need to condole those who lost loved ones and those injured or who have suffered loss of property in the crisis.

 

Possible Peace-Making Efforts

Professor Osinbajo highlighted what the Federal Government has done and was doing to deal with the situation.

A file photo of a residential building set ablaze during an attack on a community in Southern Kaduna.

 

He said, “First is the improvement of security in Southern Kaduna. Now, we have a military base there, for the first time. We also have a lot of Air Force surveillance.

“We have about 500 conventional and Mobile Policemen in Zangon-Kataff and Kaura Local Government Areas and then, the combined military team of the army and the navy who are also on ground 24 hours. This is basically to just take care of the volatile situation there.”

The Vice President noted that President Buhari had several security council meetings where the issues were discussed, and the possibilities of engagement have also been discussed.

On a personal note, he revealed that he has engaged community leaders in Southern Kaduna and the state governor to look at what peace-making efforts were possible.

Professor Osinbajo was optimistic that the issues would be resolved, noting that some of the peace-making efforts have been fairly successful.

“But there is also a lot of work going on to ensure that some of these fundamental issues are being addressed and it’s an evolving situation, but it’s something we can’t afford to ignore and it’s gone on for far too long and it’s redressable and possible for us to resolve,” he stated.

On his part, Gbajabiamila spoke about the collaboration between the Executive and the Legislature under the present administration in addressing some of the critical issues facing the country.

He said the actions of the lawmakers would continue to be guided by the legislative agenda adopted by the House at its inauguration in 2019, in line with the vision of the President.