Sahara Reporters Latest News Sunday 30th December 2018
Sahara Reporters Latest News Today and headlines on some of the happenings and news trend in the Country, today 30/12/18
target=_blank>Former Lagos Police Commissioner Fatai Owoseni, Nine Others Retire From Service
Benue State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Fatai Owoseni
Fatai Owoseni, a former Commissioner of Police in Lagos State, has joined nine other senior Police officers in retiring from the Nigerian Police Force after 35 years of service.
Owoseni was Police Commissioner in Lagos from July 1, 2015 to September 1, 2017.
According to NAN, the officers kicked off their retirement on Saturday at a colourful ceremony in Lagos, attended by family members, colleagues and other dignitaries.
Peace Ibekwe Abdallah, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Force Criminal Intelligence Investigation Department (FCIID), who represented Ibrahim Idris, the Inspector General of Police, commended the officers for their service to the nation.
“Congratulations to all the retiring senior officers and to their families, we say a big thank you for the support. As you bow out today, the IG, the entire Police and the nation say a big thank you. You have served well and God will reward you abundantly,” she said.
Tunji Alapini, a retired Assistant Inspector General of Police, who represented the Chairman of the Police Service Commission (PSC), Musiliu Smith, also advised the retiring officers to be cautious of the “new world”.
“You are retiring into a new world. The world of the Police is different from the world of retirement. A lot of people are waiting for you, thinking you have money to invest, you have to be wary and careful. Please, be faithful to your family,” Alapini said.
In his remarks, Oba Saheed Ademola, the Elegushi of Elegushi Ikate, commended the police officers for their service to the nation.
“I know how passionate you are about the country. How you work to keep the country safe. We Nigerians often forget where we come from. Nigeria’s problem has been there for a while and it will take more than four years to solve. It is just for our government to the right thing,” he stated.
Oba Rasheed Akanbi, the Oluwo of Iwo, also commended the officers, saying: “I understand what the Police stand for as they have made Nigeria more secure; they are the greatest law enforcement agents.”
Among the retiring officers are AIG Abdul Bube, AIG Hilda Ibifuro-Harrison, CP Agyole Abeh, CP Joseph Agaji and CP Gbemisola Akinpelu. Others are CP Bello Ahmed, CP Abdullahi Ibrahim, CP Bello Yahaya, CP Adekinte Ademoju, CP Wakili Maye, CP Fave Semili and CP Ahmed Magaji.
Fifty-five officers of the ranks of Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG), Commissioner of Police (CP), Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) and Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) retired from the Police Force across the country.
SaharaReporters, New York
target=_blank>Inside The Hidden, Inaccessible Lagos State Inclusive And Special Schools
“Having an inclusive school is a welcome development but what is the value of an inclusive school that is not accessible to the students?”
This was the curious question of Oluwakemi Odusanya, a visually impaired On Air Personality (OAP) at Unilag FM, who spoke with SaharaReporters at Pacelli School of the Blind and Partial Sight’s old students meetup.
Lagos State, with 31 inclusive units spread across primary schools in all its 20 Local Government Areas (LGAs), is one of the four states in Nigeria that have introduced a semblance inclusive learning to cater for children with different disabilities, according to Razak Adekoya, Public Awareness and Communications Manager, USAID SACE Project. Although, some of the special education experts who spoke with Sahara Reporters argued that the state is yet to achieve true inclusive education, rather what it has done is mainstreaming of special education.
Inclusive education is a system that allows all children regardless of their peculiar challenges to learn together in the same classroom but with special support to cater for their specific needs within the same space. Mainstreaming, on the other hand, is a system where special schools are situated within the same premises of the regular schools.
However, regardless of the disagreement on the classification of the schools, accessibility is at the center of educating children with disability. Unfortunately, investigation by Sahara Reporters revealed that many of the inclusive school are not only physically inaccessible for the pupils but are also unknown to Lagos State residents.
The old building that houses classrooms of the inclusive unit at the Local Government Primary School at Church bus-stop in Igando, is a potential hazard to many of the physically challenged pupils in the school. Entrance to the classrooms has elevated platforms with multiple potholes, and steps that make mobility on wheelchair almost impossible.
It is the same condition in almost all the twenty-one schools with inclusive units visited by Saharareporters. The stairways have no ramp, neither are there facilities for the hearing impaired to be notified during general activities like the morning devotion and break time. At the inclusive unit of Maryland Primary school, SaharaReporters observed as the class teacher in one of the classes for the hearing impaired pupils had to call the attention of the pupils for them to know it was lunch break.
Locating these schools is also a herculean task for residents as there is little information about the schools on the Lagos State website neither are the officials in some Local government secretariats aware of the inclusive units within their Local Government Areas (LGAs). In one of the newsletters on the Lagos State website, the number of inclusive units across the state was stated but there was no further information about the specific schools with inclusive units out of the 1,010 schools in the state.
Sahara Reporters was at the education department of Ikeja Local Government Council at Obafemi Awolowo road, as a parent seeking information on how to enroll her child in the inclusive unit within Ikeja LGA but the officials had no information.
“I don’t know any school with inclusive units in the Local Government. Go to Ministry of Education at Alausa to find out” a dark plump lady who was seated at the education secretary’s office said. It was the same scenario at the Yaba Local Council Development Area (LCDA). The lady at the education department simply said she is only aware of Modupe Cole Memorial Child Care and Treatment Home School.
At the Basic Education Service Department in the Ministry of Education, the elderly woman who attended to this reporter gave no information. She simply picked a piece of paper, jotted the address of the child care department in Akoka and handed the piece of paper to the reporter without as much as uttering a word or even acknowledging her greetings.
The Lagos State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) only made the list available to SaharaReporters following a Freedom of Information (FoI) request.
Video of Inclusive Education Is Not In Existence Anywhere In Nigeria
Inclusive Education Is Not In Existence Anywhere In Nigeria
Deaf School with No Sign Book
Investigation revealed that there are no government provided sign language books for the hearing impaired pupils at Wesley School for the Deaf. One of the teachers in the school who spoke with SaharaReporters on condition of anonymity said the government has no sign book for the students.
“It’s hard for the children to fully learn their own language because there are no adequate materials to really teach. The government does not even make provision for them. Some of them come to school, sit down and leave when it’s closing time without learning any tangible thing.
“Except few of them whose parents can afford to buy either the local or international sign language textbooks for, they rely on what the teachers teach them in learning the sign language. The Lagos State Government does not have a sign language textbook for the students,” he said.
This was confirmed when SaharaReporters visited the school. In the basic four, only one of the twenty pupils has a sign language textbook, The Joy of Signing, which he provided by himself. The Lagos State Government gives the same textbooks it provides for those in the regular schools. While this is a not absolutely wrong, hearing impaired children who are not adequately grounded with the sign language, would find interpreting printed letters difficult.
The President of the National Handicap Carers Association of Nigeria, Adewale Adeyanju, also told SaharaReporters that there is no locally produced sign language book in Lagos State.
“LASG doesn’t have sign language books. LASG just recently started to experiment with production of sign language pamphlets,” he said.
“Sign language is very key for the deaf,” Shehu Adebayo, a Disability and Development Consultant, told SaharaReporters in an interview, “because that is the language they can speak and that is also the way they communicate with the outside world. If there is a challenge in learning this language, that child is going to have problem.
“We expect that the priority of the education of the deaf child should start with the learning of the sign language because it is only when they learn the sign language that they can interpret the alphabet and the words and numbers. That is when they can grow their numeric and literacy skills. So, they need to know all of these things and whatever learning materials that are being used should follow the line of proper professional guidelines of their curriculum.”
One Type Fits All Curriculum
16 year old Dada Joshua (not real name) has been in a class for six years at Modupe Cole. His teacher Mr. Adeife, said he will be promoted only when he has learnt and retained enough information to proceed to the next class. Joshua, who is educable though intellectually challenged, is subjected to the same curriculum and learning materials as the regular students in normal schools.
Mr. Adeife explained that the school receives free books from the Lagos State government but the books are not adapted for the special needs pupils admitted into the school. “You have to repeat a lesson multiple times before the pupils get it. If you teach once, they forget,” Mr. Adeife said, justifying the need for the pupils to have material adapted for their mental capacity. He said, though with caution not to indict the government, that effort to ensure the government design appropriate materials and curriculum for the pupils has been unsuccessful.
The pupils with different disability who are put together in the same classrooms, in all the inclusive units also use the same textbooks and are expected to learn at the same pace. Adebayo opined that it is impracticable to put children with different disabilities together without providing adequate manpower to cater for their individual educational needs. Explaining the downside of having children with intellectual disability together in the same classroom with children with other forms of disability— as it is in the 21 inclusive schools visited by Sahara Reporters— Adebayo stated that; “intellectual and developmental disability have various subs (sic) under it; there are those with autism, down syndrome, dyslexia, cerebral palsy etc.
“All of these come with different learning challenges that may present some difficulties if trying to introduce them into mainstreaming or other level of inclusion without having the requisite manpower and equipments because their pace of learning is completely slowed down and they cannot be taught at the same pace with other nonintellectual disabled children,” he added.
This is however the reality in all the Lagos State inclusive units; the pupils are put together in the same classroom with a teacher assigned them.
Mr. Abdulsalam—the teacher, driver and cleaner
Lack of resource persons is one of the inadequacies of Lagos State inclusive and special schools. In some of the schools visited, the unit has only one teacher assigned to all the children with different disabilities that ranged from hearing impairment, to intellectually challenge.
Mr. Abdulsalam, a tall, slim, bearded man, is the resource person in charge of the inclusive unit at the Roman Catholic Mission (RCM) School, in Okunraye, Ibeju Lekki. On Monday, September 19 2018, when SaharaReporters was at the school as a parent seeking to enroll her visually impaired child, Mr. Abdusalam was preparing to drive the children to their houses.
“That is how he does it” a teacher in the school said “he is the only person in the inclusive unit. He is the teacher, the driver and also the care giver. If some of the children who cannot clean for themselves poop, he is the one to clean them up. He does everything for the pupils.”
Mr. Abdulsalam is not the only special education teacher who takes up other care giving responsibilities. At Amosun Primary School, Agege, the inclusive unit has one teacher who specializes in hearing impairment. In her class, she has pupils with Down syndrome and cerebral palsy. These set of pupils should have specialists who can handle their peculiarities.
Also, at Central Primary School in Festac, there are two teachers assigned to take care of over thirty pupils with different disabilities. At Bola Memorial Anglican Primary School, Bank Anthony Way, there is only a teacher who will be retiring in February of 2019.
Lack of sufficient resource person is not only peculiar to the inclusive units; the special schools also grapple with the same challenge. At the Stimulation Class in Modupe Cole, two teachers cater for over 30 students. Mrs. Nzeh Mabel, a teacher at Wesley School, also complained about inadequate specialized and qualified teachers.
Mr. Adebayo stated that the lack of manpower is one of the impediments to achieving inclusive education.
Lagos State Is Breaking Its Law
The Lagos State Special People’s Law (2010) was passed by the Lagos State House of Assemble and assented to by Babatunde Fashola, a former governor of Lagos State, to protect the rights of people living with disability in the state. The law enshrined in it the right of children with disabilities and the roles of the government in protecting these rights.
Section 29 of the law mandates the government to make public facilities accessible for special people.
Sub-section (1) says: “ A person living with disability shall have the right and necessary facilities to access public buildings and public places.
“(2) A public building shall not be constructed without the necessary accessibility aids such as lift (where necessary), ramps and others that shall make them accessible and usable to persons living with disability.
“(3) A Landlord or Landlady shall allow a person living with disability lawfully occupying the property as a tenant to make such access related modifications to the building as would allow him or her access his or her apartment provided he or she shall remove such modifications before vacating the premises.
“(4) The Government shall ensure that roads, side-works, pedestrian crossings and all other facilities made for public use shall be made accessible to and usable by persons living with disability including those on wheelchairs.
“(5) There shall be a transitory period of five (5) years within which all public buildings, roads, pedestrian crossings and all other structures shall be modified to be accessible to and usable by persons living with disability.”
Contrary to this provision, not only are some of the inclusive units in the much newer buildings not accessible, in violation of section 29 (2) and (4), the inclusive schools in old structures have also not been modified as mandated by section 29 (5).
Inibehe Effiong, a human rights lawyer, also said that the state government is violating Section 33 (7) and (8), with the failure to provide appropriate curriculum and learning materials for children with disability in its schools.
Sub-section 7 says: “the curriculum of every primary, secondary and tertiary school shall include— (a) learning of Braille; (b) sign language; (c) augmentative and alternative communication skills; (d) peer support and; (e) mentoring.
“(8) Government shall ensure that the education of persons living with disability, particularly children who are blind, deaf or with multiple disabilities, is delivered in the most appropriate languages, modes and means of communication for the individual, and in environments which maximizes academic and social development.”
No Respite in Sight
Six months ago, before the political impasse in the ruling All Progressives Party (APC), the Lagos state government announced that it would recruit 1000 teachers to fill in the vacancies across primary schools—including inclusive schools— in the state.
The announcement was made by the Deputy Governor of the state, Mrs. Idayat Adebule, who is also the state’s Commissioner for Education, at a seminar organized by Teachers’ Establishment and Pensions Office (TEPO).
This much needed intervention has been shelved following the political tussle that crippled the second term chances of Akinwunmi Ambode led Lagos State Government, an anonymous source close to the current state governor told SaharaReporters.
“Every government ministry is in limbo now; nobody is paying attention of any defect anywhere anymore” the source said, “the boards of all agencies and parastatals are struggling to curry favor with the next administration as it is clear the current governor is not coming back.”
This was also corroborated by another source in SUBEB who declined to be named because she has no authority to address the press on the issue but conversant with the issue. Speaking with SaharaReporters, she said the board is aware of the challenges in the schools, not just the inclusive schools, but there is no political will to address any of them just yet.
Video of Why Lagos State Established Inclusive Schools
Why Lagos State Established Inclusive Schools
“We already set recruitment in motion; the inclusive schools were going to get personnel from the 1000 teachers that the government wanted to recruit months ago. But at it stands, the process has been stopped. We can only hope the new board that will be favored by whoever becomes the next governor, pay attention to inclusive education.
“Board appointment is earned by loyalty to wherever becomes the governor, I am sure most of the current board members will not be reappointed, which also means the focus might change.”
All effort to get an official response from the board was unsuccessful.
How Inclusive Schools Can Work
The President of the National Handicap Carers Association of Nigeria opined that inclusive education is a great initiative but it can only work if the special pupils are provided appropriate learning aids and personnel they need to thrive.
“Inclusive Schools though are good,” Adeyanju said, “but it has its shortcoming. When in a classroom set up, only one teacher is available who cannot sign all through the lesson but talking and expecting the Deaf students to grasp what he’s talking, it will lead to disadvantage for the deafstudents concerned.
He explained further that science courses are difficult to teach in a class where there is no dedicated teacher for the hearing impaired pupils.
“If you want to sign Tetraoxo permanganate, nitrate acid forexample, you have to finger spelled the words. It can be strenuous forteacher to teach both the hearing and the deaf together because hewill soon find that the hearing grasp the knowledge faster while hehas to be slowed for deaf to catch up.
“If Inclusive school setting must work, special students must be ableto have plenty education aid materials including books, laptop,computer PCs and others needs. If a teacher is compelled to teach onregular basis without adequate remuneration, they (teachers) will get bored and may opt out to seek for a greener pasture. Thisis why there are few serious teachers for the deaf in Nigeria. The remuneration is too low.
“The solution to the challenges lies in the change of attitude and mindset of our leaders and the society at large so that priority will be given to special education. If they truly desireeducation for the deaf, we need huge investment in education; trainingof many teachers to use sign language, books and education aids mustbe supply in large quantity and wages paid as at when due plus otheremoluments and benefits.”
Our Monitoring and Evaluation Team will Swing to action—LASODA
The Lagos State Office for Disability Affairs (LASODA), a state agency empowered by the Special People’s Law to collaborate with state agencies to ensure that their facilities and operations accommodate pople with disabilities, expressed surprise at the anomalies found in some of the inclusive schools.
Mr. Ademuluyi Adebowale, the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the agency lauded the effort of the state government in ensuring children with disability get quality education but promised to investigate the state of the schools and make recommendations to the appropriate agency.
He, however, agreed that physical accessibility should have been a paramount consideration for the government when setting up the inclusive units.
He said: “Even where there are no accessibility in such school before but by the time they have it as an inclusive school, they ought to give accessibility major consideration.
“This is an information to me, we cannot claim to know it all and we cannot claim to have done the best of everything but it is a continuous process. I have heard this as a feedback… we will of course, do something about it.”
He further explained that is it not the responsibility of LASODA to run the school but to ensure that they are not just accessible to the target audience but also useful.
“I can assure you that our monitoring and evaluation team will see to it” he said.
Video of Funding and Implementation of Inclusive Education System In Nigeria
Funding and Implementation of Inclusive Education System In Nigeria
For the record: List of Inclusive Schools In Lagos State
LIST OF NAME OF 31 INCLUSIVE UNITS (PRIMARY), LGEA AND THEIR LOCATION
Amosun Primary School, Agege
Dairy Farm Complex, Near District 1, Agege
Ore Ofe Primary School, Dopemu
86, Abeokuta Express Way, Dopemu, Agege
L.G. Primary School, Igando
Ikotun Rd, Church Bus Stop, Igando
Oki Primary School, Alaguntan
1, TenibegilojuStr, Off Ikotun Rd, Alaguntan
All Saints Primary School, Iju Road
Agege Pen Cinema Bus Stop, Iju Garage, Iju Road
New Oko Oba Primary School
AkinsegunStr, Off Charity Rd, New Oko Oba
G.R.A Primary School, Ogudu, Ojota
Emmanuel Str, Off Ogudu, Ojota
Maryland Primary School, Maryland
Maryland Schools Complex, Maryland
L.G. Primary School, Ipakodo
Adeyemo Close, Ipakodo, Ikorodu
Army Children Primary School
Bonny Camp Cantonment, Victoria Island
Ado Primary School
Ado Langbasa Rd, via Ado Roundabout, Ajah
Ereko Methodist Primary School
35, Beckley Street, Off King George Rd, Lagos Island
St. Joseph Primary School, Elegbata
16, Cole Street, Elegbata, Apongbon, Lagos
R.C.M Primary School, Okunraye
Okunraye Town, Ibeju Lekki
R.C.M Primary School, Ayeteju
Ayeteju Town, Ibeju Lekki
A.U.D Primary School, Epe
Alawaye Street, Epe
Methodist Primary School, Agbowa
Local Govt. Education Authority, Epe
Methodist Primary School, Apapa
32/34 Randle Road, LGEA Compound, Apapa
Sari Iganmu Primary School, Apapa
4, AdekunleDeen, Sari Iganmu, Orile
Anglican Primary School, Araromi
11, Yaya Crescent, Ajegunle
AmuwoOdofin Primary School, Mile 2
Mile 2 Housing Estate
Central Primary School, Festac
5th Avenue, Festac
Aganju Aka Primary School II, Ojo
Along Kemberi, Abule Aka Rd, Okokomaiko
Community Primary School, Afromedia
Afromedia Ajangbadi, Ojo
Muslim Primary School, Badagry
Along Kemberi, Abule Aka rd, Okokomaiko
L.A Primary School, Badagry
Ajara Road, Badagry
Bola Memorial Primary School, Ikeja
Abule Nla Bus stop, before EKO Hospital
Estate Primary School, Ogba
Opposite Oluwole Estate, Ogba
Ojuwoye Comm. Primary School
35, Damengoro Street, Mushin
Olisa Primary School, Mushin
Dada Olisa Street, Papa Ajao, Mushin
Central Primary School, Oshodi
Beside Council Secretariat, Oyetuga, Oshodi
This report was supported by Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ) Regulators Monitoring Programme (REMOP) for the Education Sector.
target=_blank>Police Cut Power Supply To Dino Melaye’s House
As the hide-and-seek game between Dino Melaye, the senator representing Kogi Central District in the National Assembly, and the Nigerian Police Force continues at his residence in Abuja, SaharaReporters can authoritatively report that the power supply to the lawmaker’s house has been cut off by the security operatives, who have been keeping vigil at the house.
The Police had invaded Melaye’s house on Friday, over allegations he was culpable in the shooting of a police officer in July 2018.
JUST IN: Melaye Refuses To Come Out As Police Invade His House In Abuja
1 Day Ago
The Police had also insisted that its officers would wait at the house until the lawmaker surrenders himself.
We’ll Continue Waiting At Melaye’s House Until He Surrenders Himself, Say Police
1 Day Ago
According to a source, policemen have disconnected the building from the national grid with the view to rendering the home inhabitable.
Speaking on the incident via phone call on Friday, the lawmaker had said he would not be intimidated by the pressure and promised to honour the Police invitation as soon as he arrives Abuja.
SaharaReporters, New York
target=_blank>BREAKING: Ex-President Shehu Shagari Buried In Sokoto
Former Nigerian President Shehu Shagari has been buried in Sokoto.
Shagari died on Friday evening at the National Hospital, Abuja.
BREAKING: Former President Shehu Shagari Dies At 93
1 Day Ago
His body was committed to the earth at some minutes past 3pm in Shagari town in Sokoto State on Saturday.
Afterwards, special prayers were offered for the soul of the late President.
Present at the event were President Muhammadu Buhari, who was represented by Boss Mustapha, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, as well as politicians, elderstatesmen, friends and well wishers of the departed.
SaharaReporters, New York
target=_blank>PHOTOS: Shehu Shagari’s Body Leaves National Hospital Abuja For Sokoto
The late Shehu Shagari, leaving the National Hospital, Abuja.
The body of Shehu Shagari, a former Nigerian President, has arrived Sokoto.
Shagari passed on on Friday evening at the National Hospital in Abuja.
BREAKING: Former President Shehu Shagari Dies At 93
1 Day Ago
He was 93 years old at the time of his death.
The late Shehu Shagari, leaving the National Hospital, Abuja.
His body arrived Sokoto from the National Hospital, Abuja, on Saturday and was received by Aminu Tambuwal, Governor of Sokoto State.
The funeral prayer for his burial in Shagari town, Sokoto, is currently ongoing.
SaharaReporters, New York
target=_blank>BREAKING: Saturday Impeachment! Adamawa Assembly Removes Deputy Speaker
Emmanuel Tsamdu, Deputy Speaker of Adamawa State House of Assembly, has just been impeached, SaharaReporters can report.
In a rare sitting on Saturday, the Assembly also sacked the Majority Leader, Hassan Mamman Barguma (Hong Constituency); Deputy Majority Leader, Abubakar Isa (Shelleng Constituency); and Deputy Chief Whip, Abdullahi Nyapak (Verre Constituency).
Consequently, Lumsabani Dilli (Demsa Constituency) is now the Deputy Speaker, while Hayatu Mohammed Atiku (Uba-Gaya) was elected Majority Leader to replace his kinsman from Hong.
Others elected as principal officers are Safiyanu Aminu Aliyu (Song Constituency) as Deputy Chief Whip and Sani Shehu (Mubi North Constituency) as Deputy Majority Leader.
However, embattled Tsamdu has rejected his impeachment, saying “13 people cannot impeach me”.
The Adamawa Assembly is made up of 25 members, meaning those who carried out the impechment were not up to two-thirds the assembly.
SaharaReporters, New York
E2%80%8B target=_blank>INVESTIGATION: Millions Meant For Combating HIV/AIDS In Nigeria End Up In Private Pockets
NACA’s logo, erected at its office in Abuja
The companies’ address at 169 Ademola Adetokunbo Crescent, Wuse 2, Abuja was a residential apartment now being converted to a plaza
John Idoko, former Director General of NACA between 2009 and 2016
Office building of Benue State Agency for the Control of AIDS in Makurdi
NACA’s logo, erected at its office in Abuja
Hundreds of millions of naira released for HIV campaigns, counselling and testing services may have ended in private pockets of contractors and government officials, as companies were specifically registered to siphon funds meant to save the lives of the infected.
Brazenly stolen money
In October of 2015, National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) awarded 38 contracts to 23 firms at the cost of N1.2 billion. Their shared responsibilities were to conduct HIV counselling, testing and demand creation for HIV services in 26 out of Nigeria’s 36 states.
That year, NACA broke its own fiscal record as its capital budget of N1, 930,500,120 was fully released and spent to the last kobo. Three years down the line, The ICIR investigations reveal, the award of contracts for these services were a smokescreen to siphon public funds. No services were meant to be rendered and none were eventually delivered. Yet, monies were released from state coffers and supposedly accounted for.
In the global efforts to rid the world of HIV, the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), causative agent, reports say that new HIV infections are not going down in Nigeria and, thus, still poses a public health threat. Advocates continue to argue that prevention and treatment programmes need to be scaled up.
But rather than scale up prevention in the country, The ICIR investigations show the companies NACA awarded contracts are, to a large extent, questionable. In addition, three of these firms made away with N289 million, without executing any traceable HIV counselling and testing services.
Two of the companies — Duxford Integrated Services Limited (DISL) and Carsons Global Services Limited (CGSL) were, according to records scrutinised, registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) on the same day — May 2, 2014. The third company, Corn Idea Limited (CIL), was registered on November 26 of the same year.
Another striking discovery was that the three companies have common ownership and are located in the same address. Ifeanyi Iyizoba doubles as a director and majority shareholder in all, while Afunanya Jude Chinweze is the sole secretary of the three companies.
Each of the companies has N1 million share capital. In the breakdown, Iyizoba has N600, 000 shares each in Duxford Integrated Services Limited and Carsons Global Services Limited, while a different person, named Martin Samuel, owns the remaining N400, 000 share capital each.
In the third company, Corn Idea Limited, Ifeanyi Iyizoba is found to be the main shareholder with N900, 000 share capital, while a new name, Ndubuisi Iyizoba, owns just N100, 000 shares in the company.
Also, DISL and CGSL have the same main objective: “to carry on the business of trading of general contracts, sales and distribution of general goods”.
The third company, CIL, has a different objective: “to carry on the business of communication, telecommunication services and software design”.
Thus, none of the three companies that secured contracts from NACA to conduct HIV counselling and testing services in nine states renders any form of health services as their main objectives indicate.
A breakdown of the contracts awarded to the three companies by NACA shows that DISL got N37 million for Kebi, N27 million for Imo, and N29 million for Benue state. CGSL got two contracts at N32 million for Bayelsa and N34 million for Plateau states.
Corn Idea Limited received the highest number of contracts with N27 million for Katsina, N37 million for Federal Capital Territory (FCT), N38 million for Bauchi, and N28 million for Zamfara states.
The companies’ address at 169 Ademola Adetokunbo Crescent, Wuse 2, Abuja was a residential apartment now being converted to a plaza
By the awards of these dubious contracts, NACA did not only violate requirements of the Public Procurement Act (PPA) of 2007, the agency also disregarded its own laid down procedures and processes.
Earlier in July 2015, NACA advertised expressions of interest from competent firms. The requirements were that interested companies should be ones with high knowledge and experience in HIV services. They were asked to apply for the contracts in order to enhance rapid scale-up of HIV services in the communities as well as Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) of HIV/AIDS.
A key factor in NACA’s eligibility criteria was that prospective applicants must have completed at least three successful similar consultancy services.
However, findings by The ICIRshow that the three companies never handled any project or service of any kind prior to their getting the HIV counselling and testing contracts from NACA.
Even till date, there is no record to ascertain that the three companies being investigated have done any works since they were registered. The only ‘credible’ information about them was that they were awarded contracts for which they lack professional competence by NACA.
In advertising the contracts, NACA asked applicants to provide: “evidence of tax payment for the past three (3) consecutive years; that is, for years 2012-to-2014, evidence of VAT registration and proof of past remittances, and audited statement of account for same previous three (3) consecutive years of 2012-to- 2014.”
But, evidently, the three companies were found not to have been able to meet the specified requirements because they were only established the previous year 2014. In fact, CIL which got the highest contracts was registered eight months before NACA advertised for the expression of interest.
Furthermore, NACA asked applicants to provide “detailed company profile, technical experience/qualification of key personnel, registered address, name, functional location, telephone numbers, and e-mail address” to boost their eligibility to bid for the job. Surprisingly, the only item that attests to the companies’ existence is the proof of registration with CAC.
When The ICIRtraced the address of the three companies located at 169, Ademola Adetokunbo Crescent, Wuse 2, Abuja, as filed in their registration with CAC, extensive reconstruction was ongoing in the building. The building’s foreman who identified himself as Lewis said the structure was a residential apartment converted into a plaza.
After having a phone conversation with someone whom he believed knew about the previous residents, Lewis later told our reporter that the person said neither the companies nor the individuals mentioned ever rented any work space in the building.
An amazing twist in the course of investigation is that Ifeanyi Iyizoba, the beneficial owner of the companies, could not be identified till the time of this report. All attempts to trace him on social media amid other media drew blank. In fact, a NACA official told The ICIRthat no staff of the agency admitted about knowing whom Iyizoba is.
The ICIRalso contacted several staff of other organisations that provide HIV services but none of them knew Iyizoba. Even few journalists reporting the heath beat said they too did not know Iyizoba.
Similarly, on the social media, accounts associated with Ifeanyi Iyizoba appear inactive making his online presence hazy. In particular, a Facebook account with his name was last updated in 2014. The profile picture by the name remains the only uploaded photo on the account till date. Also, other three names associated with the companies do not have reliable online presence.
Every effort made by TheICIRto ascertain the reality of the companies’ existence as well as the credibility of the persons behind them led to a dead end. Available facts show that the individuals behind the companies remain faceless.
As popularly known in the procurement circle, the stance of these companies fit into the picture of “briefcase companies”, a term used to describe those offices operating from their portfolios. They also assume that these kinds of companies are commonly registered and sponsored by public civil servants to award contracts to themselves under feigned names.
Shielding the fraud
John Idoko, former Director General of NACA between 2009 and 2016
After two months of investigations, The ICIR found no evidence that the companies that were awarded contracts by the NACA conducted any form of HIV counselling and testing services in the supposed states.
The ICIR earlier reached out to NACA by sending Freedom of Information (FOI) request to seek clarification on the status of the contracts with the companies. But the agency delayed to respond to the request to provide the exact names of the communities or health facilities where the companies administered the HIV counselling and testing services.
Not only that NACA hesitated, but also that The ICIRwas not the first organisation that NACA denied information on the details of the HIV counselling and testing contracts.
The Auditor General for the Federation, Anthony Ayine, in the 2016 audit report submitted to the National Assembly (NASS) in June 2018 noted that: “during the examination of sampled payment vouchers, it was observed that contracts for HIV counselling and testing outreach and campaign at the community level across the states and the FCT were awarded to various contractors during the year 2015.” He added that “all efforts made to obtain the contract files for audit scrutiny were not successful.
Ayine noted that the implications of his being denied access to the contract files is that, “NACA broke the law.”
He stressed: “This was a violation of Section 85(2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (1999) and Financial Regulation 110 which expressly provide that my Office will have unfettered access to all required documents, accounts and other records.”
The AGF then urged the NASS to compel the Director General (DG) of NACA to make available all the relevant contractors’ files for audit scrutiny. But the NASS, according to findings, has not yet acted on Ayine’s request.
John Idoko was the DG of NACA in 2015. Before becoming NACA’s DG from April 2009 to August 2016, Idoko was a professor of medicine at the University of Jos in Plateau State and President, Nigerian AIDS Research Network. He was replaced by the current DG, Sani Aliyu.
NACA, established in 2001, initially named National Action Committee on AIDS, was set up to coordinate multi-sectoral response to HIV/AIDS, including collaborating with international organisations. It became an agency of the Federal Government in 2007, under the presidency and directly supervised by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
Trailing the HIV projects in the states
Office building of Benue State Agency for the Control of AIDS in Makurdi
Not giving up on the intent to unravel the truth of the situations, The ICIRtrailed the purported HIV counselling and testing services coordinated by the three companies – DISL, CGSL and CIL to three states and the FCT. Amazingly, no such services were rendered in the specified states.
A Community Mobilisation Specialist in the Federal Capital Territory Agency for the Control of AIDS, Angela Emenalo, told The ICIR that she never heard of Corn Idea Limited.
“No organisation by that name has ever done any such HIV work in the nation’s capital,” she affirmed.
Emenalo continued: “If any HIV project was done by the company you mentioned in any part of FCT, I will know because the mobilisation officers in the six area councils report to me.”
Emenalo explained that every HIV projects will have reports on the number of people tested and contacts of those that tested positive, and concluded emphatically, “I insist, I don’t know anything about this contract you are talking about. I never heard of it. Go and ask NACA for the report.”
Similarly, Ileimokumo Ogregade, Director General, Bayelsa State Agency for the Control of AIDS, could not find records of a 2015 NACA’s N32 million contract of HIV counselling and testing activity purportedly conducted by any company called CGSL in the state.
Ogregade, who was by 2015 not the DG, instructed his monitoring and evaluation officer to run through their archives. Again, there was no reference to any HIV activity by CGSL in Bayelsa State. There were also no staff of the agency who had ever heard of the company.
In Bauchi State, the director of HIV and AIDS programme, Danladi Mohammed, said he had no knowledge of N38 million contract awarded to CIL by NACA in the state. Mohammed referred The ICIR back to NACA as he noted: “I think the best thing is maybe you ask the agency to specify exactly when they conducted this activity and where.”
Then, after calling his predecessor to enquire about the project, Mohammed was told that NACA once came to Bauchi to implement HIV-related activities, but the state did not have the record of any activity by the company being investigated.
The DG said: “we cannot say Corn Idea Limited was here. And we’ll not be fair to them if we say they were not here. Honestly, we all need clarification from NACA.”
He took The ICIR through the way they operate. He explained that health facilities take record and upload data on HIV counselling and testing to the National Health Management Information System (NHMIS).
So, for them to know the number of people tested in a particular month in the state, Mohammed said, “I will simply check the NHMIS platform.”
He emphasised that any organisation that conducts HIV testing in a community must share the data with the nearest health facility there. The health facility will then record the names and contacts, as well as basic biological information of those that tested positive into its HIV testing services register.
Director General, Benue State Agency for the Control of AIDS, Gideon Dura, refused to confirm or refute whether a 2015 NACA N29 million HIV counselling and testing project awarded to DISL ever held in the state or not.
“If you ask me about HIV prevalence in Benue State, I will begin to elaborate on it. But when you come specifically for a particular organisation whether came and did something here, you don’t have a letter from those people up there, I will not attend to you,” Dura said sternly.
Insisting that he needed to see a letter from either NACA or Federal Ministry of Health before he could confirm whether the company did HIV counselling and testing in the state, Dura said: “in Benue State, I’m the eye of DG of NACA. And as you know, we don’t answer journalists like that. It is deadly to answer journalists without due approval from the top.”
A few days later, The ICIR contacted a subordinate staff who helped to rummage through files in the office. He later confirmed that the state never had dealings with DISL on any HIV activity.
To get a reaction from the agency, The ICIRshared its findings with Toyin Aderibigbe, Head of Corporate Communication for NACA.
But rather than respond directly to the findings in the states, NACA sent its reply to the FOI request it had earlier ignored. The ICIR, had on November 13 sent the FOI request to NACA. On November 20, a copy of the FOI acknowledgement receipt was presented to Aderibigbe to facilitate prompt response.
In a letter signed by Adeolu Aiyewumi, Head of Legal Unit, NACA, and dated December 17 but received by The ICIRon December 21, the agency apologised for not providing the requested information within the seven days specified by the FOIA “as these activities were conducted in 2015 and a manual of our archived files had be done to retrieve the information required to provide you with a robust response.”
Aiyewumi acknowledged that The ICIRspecifically requested for the names of communities or health facilities where the companies conducted HIV counselling and testing but he provided only the Local Government Areas (LGAs) where the activities were purportedly conducted.
He also confirmed that NACA engaged the companies to conduct HIV counselling, testing and demand creation for HIV services in nine states in 2015.
According to Aiyewumi, the companies submitted reports with the following results:
DUXFORD NIGERIA LIMITED
CORN IDEA NIG. LIMITED
ISAFE & BUGUDU
CARSONS GLOBAL NIG. LIMITED
However, NACA’s data stands in sharp contrast to the realities found in the visited states. It also fails to address The ICIR’s original request which was for the names of communities or health facilities that the HIV counselling and testing services took place.
In the data provided by Aiyewumi, only names of LGAs were presented as communities thereby making the document vague, given that respective LGAs has about 10 wards with hundreds of settlements.
And, were the HIV counselling and testing services actually done as NACA claimed, records of those that tested positive would have been given to the nearest health facilities to commence treatment. And if the counselling and testing were done in health facilities, those health facilities would have the records of those that tested positive in their registers.
To resolve the disparities, NACA’s spokesperson, Toyin Aderibigbe, promised to facilitate a meeting between The ICIRand NACA on December 24 to address the fresh concerns to jointly examine the reports purportedly submitted by the three companies. Come this day, NACA’s spokesperson reneged on her pledge to arrange the meeting.
NACA’s reply to FOI request did not answer why states’ agencies did not know about the companies and the HIV activities claimed to have been conducted in their locale. It also did not provide the names of the communities or the health facilities that the counselling and testing took place. This slip has also made confirming the figures a difficult task.
In the face of the contradictions, the suspicious figures purportedly submitted by the three companies could have formed part of the 7,238,594 persons that were claimed to be counselled and tested across Nigeria in 2015.
It was out of this number that NACA also presented in its annual report that 264,476 tested HIV positive. Consequently, Nigeria may not yet have dependable figures on numbers of persons counselled and tested for HIV.
Health experts say HIV data dilemma limits the fight against the virus and that is why the world’s largest ever population-based HIV/AIDS survey is currently being conducted to determine the distribution of the disease in Nigeria. Also, the result of the donor-funded Nigeria HIV/AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey, which began in June, is expected to be released in the first quarter of 2019.
On December 26, NACA’s long awaited response to The ICIR’s findings was e-mailed to the reporter. The agency reiterated its stand that the companies conducted HIV counselling and testing services in the states. Here is the NACA’s full statement:
“In your follow-on email to our Head of Corporate Communication dated 5th December 2018, you shared the findings of your investigation. We commend your organisation for conducting an independent investigation and sharing the findings with us. We have reviewed your findings and wish to provide the responses below. It is our hope that these responses will further enrich your report and support the good work you are doing to promote accountability and transparency in the use of public funds in Nigeria.
The companies were registered a few months before the contracts were awarded and the three companies are owned by one person, suggesting that there is a collusion with NACA in awarding the contracts.
In line with the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) Act 2007, NACA advertised a general procurement notice on July 3rd, 2015, requesting interested companies to respond to the numerous Lots, including that for HIV Counselling and Testing (please see Annex 1). Numerous companies responded and submitted the required documents listed in the advert, including the three companies in question. NACA at this stage has no evidence of collusion by the procurement evaluation committee that reviewed the submissions. Nevertheless, as you are aware, these activities took place before the appointment of the current Director General, Dr. Sani Aliyu. The new DG has already directed that a forensic audit of the entire contract award be undertaken, and a full report submitted to him in the coming weeks. In the event that allegation of collusion with any staff of NACA is substantiated, the staff member(s) involved will not be spared and the full weight of the law will be applied. NACA will not condone any act of misdemeanour or corruption by any of its staff.
We are pleased to inform you that NACA management is fully committed to transparency and accountability of public funds. Our contract award process is robust and strictly follows due process. The DG has instituted a multi-layered evaluation process to ensure any error of omission or commission by the first evaluation team are picked up and rectified by the second level evaluators who are usually discreetly selected and are independent of the first set of evaluators. This process is unique to NACA and has ensured that any errors or collusions as a result of conflict of interest are promptly identified and dealt with. We have also included the submission of CAC Forms C02 and C07 which will enable us identify companies with same directors. Furthermore, in line with new directive by the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), every company is required to print the names and countries of origin of its directors on their letterhead (please see a sample of our recent advert for contracts in Annex 2).
The companies have no capacity to do HIV counselling and testing or health related services based on their main objectives
The companies submitted proposals in line with our terms of reference and their proposal was considered sound enough to deliver the results desired within the contractual framework. The reports submitted by the companies showed good results in line with the objectives and targets of the contracts. These activities were also monitored by NACA staff to ensure technical soundness of the interventions.
The contracts were not executed but the money was released 100 per cent by NACA
These activities were duly executed and were monitored by NACA staff. Please see reports of the activities attached as Annexes 3,4 & 5.
There are no records of HIV testing and counselling conducted by these companies in the states they purportedly did so
Please see reports of the activities attached as Annexes 3,4 & 5.
“We wish to once again commend your organisation for taking up this noble cause which aligns with NACA’s core values and the current administration’s zero tolerance for corruption. While this contract took place prior to the coming of the current DG, we are committed to ensuring that all contracts in NACA follow due process, are transparent and free from any undue interference by external or internal conflicted parties, in line with the DG’s principles of justice, fairness and a level-playing field for all. We are always available to support you in any way feasible in this regard. Should you require additional information on this matter, please do not hesitate to contact the undersigned. Please accept the warm assurances of the Director General.”
NACA’s e-mailed statement was signed by Adeolu Aiyewumi, Head of Legal Unit. The ICIRreceived hard copies of the reports submitted to NACA by the companies on 28 December.
The reports did not mention communities or health facilities where the HIV counselling and testing services took place. The reports did not also contain the names of the health facilities where those that tested HIV positive were referred to.
Based on the reports, there was no information that could lead to confirm that the companies conducted the HIV services they claimed they did.
This investigation is supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
Chikezie Omeje, ICIR
E2%80%99s-first-executive-president-who-led-%E2%80%98ghana-must-go%E2%80%99-project target=_blank>OBITUARY: Shagari, Nigeria’s First Executive President Who Led The ‘Ghana Must Go’ Project
There is nothing as real as death. It puts meaning to life, tragic as it appears, because it serves as the umpire who blows the final whistle at the end of the dicey game of life, thus signaling that life is nothing but an interlude between the womb and the tomb. That interlude-long and eventful life, as it turned to be, came to a solemn end for Alhaji Shehu Shagari, former Nigeria President, on Friday. Shagari died at the ripe age of 93 at the Abuja National Hospital.
Early Life And Education
Shehu Usman Shagari was born in the village known as Shagari on February 25, 1925, in Sokoto State. The village was founded by his great-grandfather Ahmadu Rufai, who would later adopt the name of the village as the family name. His father was the Aliyu Shagari and his mother, Mariamu. As was the trend at the time of his birth, Shehu’s earliest training was in a Quaranic school in his rustic but serene village. The art of rote memorization enhanced by his Quaranic training in his formative years would later serve him in good stead when he started formal education. He lost his father at the tender age of eight but this did not deter him from dreaming big. He attended Yabo Elementary School from 1936 to 1940. He went from there to Sokoto Middle School, from 1936 to 1940, and then proceeded to the Teachers’ Training College in Zaria in 1944 and became a certified teacher in 1952.
He had a spell as an itinerant teacher touring the sedate but vast swathe known as Sokoto province from 1944 to 1950.
His Political Career
Shagari veered into politics in 1951 when he became the Secretary of the then nascent Northern People’s Congress(NPC) in the Sokoto branch. He would later vie for a political post in 1954. He was elected to the House of Representatives for Sokoto West. He served as the Parliamentary Secretary to Nigeria’s first and only Prime Minister, Alhaji Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, from 1958 to 1959. He left the office in 1959 when he was appointed as Minister of Commerce and Industries. A year after, he was given a new portfolio to serve as Federal Minister of Economic Development. He served as Federal Minister of Pension from 1960 to 1962; Federal Minister of Internal Affairs from 1962 to 1965 and Federal Minister of Works from 1960 to 1962.
He was forced into abrupt political break after the first military coup in January 1966 that claimed the life of his erstwhile boss, Tafawa Balewa. However, the break was momentary because he was invited by the Military Head of State, General Yakubu Gown(rtd), in the heat of the Nigerian Civil War, to serve as the Commissioner (Minister) for Establishments, North-West State, between 1968 and 1969. Shagari rose to prominence and assumed more important posts in the post-Civil War (1967-1970) years.
At the heels of the Civil War, while trying to reintegrate the Igbo (known then as Biafrans) people into the Nigerian nation, he was made the Federal Commissioner for Economic Development, Rehabilitation, and Reconstruction. He served in the Federal Ministry of Finance and would later succeed Obafemi Awolowo as Commissioner for Finance from 1971 to 1975. Within this period, he was Governor of World Bank as well as member of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Committee of Twenty.
Nigeria’s First ‘Executive’ President
General Olusegun Obasanjo — after the assassination of his boss, General Muritala Mohammed — initiated the transition process to terminate military rule in 1979. In the buildup to the Second Republic, a new constitution was drafted, which saw the Westminster system of government — adopted in the First Republic — jettisoned for an American-style presidential system. In September 1978, the ban on political activities was lifted. In 1979, five political parties competed in a series of elections, in which Alhaji Shehu Shagari of the National Party of Nigeria(NPN) won. His closest rivals, among other also-rans, was Chief Obafemi Awolowo of the Unity Party of Nigeria(UPN). The victory made Shehu Shagari the first elected Executive President of Nigeria. Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe was once President in the First Republic but his was ceremonial. Azikwe was a titular (having the title without the duties, functions and responsibilities expected of the office) President. This happened because Nigeria was operating the parliamentary system of government, which made the Prime Minister, Tafawa Balewa, the man who called the shots while the administration lasted. Shagari will later go down in the chequered history of Nigeria as the first and only President of the Second Republic. He re-contested and won the 1983 election before being booted out of the seat of power by a military coup by General Muhammadu Buhari.
That Mass Exodus Known As ‘Ghana Must Go’
Due to oil boom, which made Nigeria a cynosure of all eyes in the early 80s, the country witnessed an influx of immigrants from neighbouring countries. The chunk of these immigrants were from Ghana, which was experiencing economic hardship. However, due to poor management and corruption, things worsened in Nigeria. The boom became doom. And in the order to nip the dwindling of fortune in the bud, the Federal Government, led by Shehu Shagari, resorted to deportation of over 2 million Africans who were predominantly Ghanaians. President Shagari said in a statement, “If they don’t leave, they should be arrested and tried, and sent back to their homes. Illegal immigrants, under normal circumstances, should not be given any notice whatsoever. If you break a law, then you have to pay for it.” This statement emboldened most Nigerians to attack immigrants, especially Ghanaians, whom they felt were depriving them of what rightfully belonged to them. Panic gripped other nationalities and they started leaving the country in droves with or without their luggage. Those who could pack their belongings used the biggest of bags available, which happened to be the big bag now referred to today as ‘Ghana Must Go’. Some people would later ascribe the Shagari administration’s decision to purge the nation of immigration to factors other than the economic implication of their huge populations.
The Two-Thirds Drama After Defeating Awolowo
Shagari defeated Chief Obafemi Awolowo of the Unity Party Of Nigeria again in 1983, but in a contentious manner. Shagari polled the highest number of votes but a problem arose when Awolowo inquired to know whether his opponent satisfied the complementary condition given by the Electoral Act for a presidential candidate to be declared a winner, which was that the candidate must have one-quarter of votes in two-thirds of the states of the federation. Nigeria had 19 states then and Kano was the bone of contention. In the long run, after a series of legal rigmarole, the election tribunal ruled in favour of Shagari and the Supreme Court eventually upheld the tribunal’s verdict. But the verdict came with a caveat: THE JUDGEMENT MUST NOT BE CITED AS A PRECEDENT IN ANY COURT. This made Shagari’s victory at the poll suspect.
Awarding Awolowo The GCFR
The Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR) is the highest national honour in Nigeria, and exclusively reserved for past heads of state. However, in 1982, in an outright departure from the norm, Shagari gave the presidential honour to Chief Obafemi Awolowo, making the Ikene-born politician the first person to receive the award without becoming Head of State. It is believed till today, especially in the circle of Awolowo’s loyalists, that the honour was a recognition of Awo’s political savvy and superiority, and that Shagari made the decision to put a salve on his conscience having become President through allegedly foul means.
Though his administration was marred with corruption, posterity will remember him as a peace-loving man.
SaharaReporters, New York
target=_blank>Security Operatives Rescue Two Priests Abandoned By Kidnappers In Anambra
The deployment of Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras on trees, drones and helicopters by the Anambra State government for aerial surveillance, complemented by the use of intelligence reports by the security agencies to monitor flash points to ensure a crime-free Christmas and New Year celebrations has yielded fruits.
Security operatives yesterday rescued two Catholic priests who were held hostage but abandoned after three days by their kidnappers for fear of being tracked by the security hi-technology devices and arrested.
The two priests rescued are Rev Fr. Peter Nwachukwu, Parish Priest of St. Theresa’s Parish Umueze-Anam in Anambra West Local Council and Rev Fr. Cajetan Apeh, his Assistant.
Disclosing this to newsmen in Awka yesterday, the state Commissioner of Police, Garba Baba Umar, said, “The successful rescue operation was as a result of intensive search-and-rescue operations mounted by the joint team for the priests since the incident took place and with the aid of a modern technology and aerial surveillance due to difficult terrain, the abductors were forced to abandon their victims at about 6:45pm last Thursday.
“The victims were kidnapped at Nneyi village, Umuleri area at about 7:30 p.m. of the fateful day while they were returning to prepare for the visit of Cardinal Francis Arinze to the town.
“A patrol team attached to Otuocha Division recovered the light grey Toyota Corolla car marked FST 689 FL in which the victims were traveling, but which was abandoned by the kidnappers on the Nneyi Umueri axis.”
The Commissioner of Police who spoke through the Command’s Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), SP Haruna Mohammed revealed that the two priests were rescued after some successful joint security operations by the police special teams comprising FSARS, PMF, Counter Terrorism, Special Anti-cults units in conjunction with other sister agencies and the Vigilante Group in the state.
He said that the two victims, Reverend Fathers Nwachukwu and Apeh are now in stable condition and have since reunited with their families and congregation.
While reassuring the people of the state of their safety during this festive season, Umar said: “It is worthy to note that safety of the victims is the ultimate priority of the Police in this situation. Consequently, effort is being intensified to apprehend perpetrators of this heinous crime in order to bring them to justice.”
He read a riot act to other criminal elements, “Anambra is not a place to operate as they will surely meet their waterloo and be dealt with decisively in accordance with the law.”
2019 Elections: Army Begins Python Dance Nationwide January
Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai
Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai
The Nigerian Army has announced the commencement of Exercise Egwu Eke III, otherwise known as Python Dance, in all parts of the country in preparation against security challenges anticipated before, during and after the 2019 General Elections.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. – Gen Tukur Buratai, who stated this at a flag-off ceremony in Maiduguri, Borno State, on Friday, said the military exercise would last from January 1, 2019 to February 28, which effectively covered the period of the 2019 elections.
The army chief said the exercise was necessary to tackle the “challenges coupled with other security threats across the country such as terrorism, militancy, kidnapping and banditry.”
Buratai said apart from the identified threats, the military was set to combat criminal groups and elements planning violence before, during and after the 2019 General Elections.
The COAS, who was represented by the Head of Army Training and Operations, Maj.-Gen. Lamidi Adeosun, said, “Egwu Eke, which is an Igbo phrase meaning ‘Python Dance,’ was first introduced in the South-East with Egwu Eke I and II exercises executed successfully in year 2016 and 2017, respectively.
He said, “It yielded positive results in checkmating the security challenges being witnessed in the South-East region then.
“Exercise Egwu Eke III is significant because for the first time it will be conducted simultaneously across the country. It is also a reassurance of the resolve of the Nigerian Army and indeed the entire Armed Forces of Nigeria as well as other security agencies to ensure that law and order are maintained as we approach the forthcoming 2019 General Elections.”
The army had the Python Dance I exercise in 2016 and the Python Dance II in 2017 which covered only the South-East and some parts of the South-South geo-political zones to tackle the incidence of kidnapping, armed robbery and violence reported in the areas.
The exercise had been greeted with widespread criticisms in the South-East, with insinuations that the army exercise was targeted at members of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra.
The army chief said on Friday in Borno that the Python Dance would be conducted in the six geo-political zones of the country, adding that as the general elections approached, an upsurge in stockpiling of arms had been observed by the military.
Buratai added, “As the build-up to the 2019 general elections gathers momentum, an upsurge of security challenges such as stockpiling of arms by criminal groups, formation of ethnic militias and violence induced by political activities has been observed. These challenges coupled with other security threats across the country such as terrorism, militancy, kidnapping and banditry portend that dissident groups and criminal elements could cash in on the situation to perpetrate large-scale violence before, during and after the 2019 general elections.”
Olaleye Aluko and Kayode Idowu
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