Sahara Reporters Latest News Today Tuesday 14th July 2020

Sahara Reporters Latest News Today Tuesday 14th July 2020

Sahara Reporters Latest News Today and headlines on some of the happenings and news trend in the Country, today 14/07/20

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602 Ex-Boko Haram Terrorists Prepare For Freedom After Repentance, Training By Nigerian Government

Some 602 repentant Boko Haram terrorists on Monday denounced membership of the group and swore oath of allegiance to the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
They took the oath before an 11-man quasi-judicial panel headed by Justice Nehizena Afolabi of the Federal High Court, Gombe.
The denunciation followed months of participation in Operation Safe Corridor, a multi-agency humanitarian effort led by Defence Headquarters, that was launched in 2016 to encourage Boko Haram terrorists to surrender.
The programme is based on De-radicalisation, Rehabilitation and Re-Integration of former members of the insurgent group that has terrorised the North-East region for over 10 years. 

Speaking during the exercise, Maj.-Gen. Bamidele Shafa, Coordinator, Operation Safe Corridor, said the appearance of the repentant insurgents before the judicial panel was a major requirement before their reintegration into the society.
He said, “The panel is for the clients to appear before it to confess their pasts and denounce their membership of Boko Haram, Islamic State’s West Africa Province as the case maybe.
“And swear oath of allegiance to be loyal, discipline and obedient citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and then make commitment.
“The commitment is that at the end of the programme, where they commit any offence, they stand to forfeit all privileges that they have acquired today and will be liable of offence against the state.”
Shafa revealed that since the operationalisation of the DRR programme in 2016, it had admitted 893 clients into camp while 280 including two Chadians had been transferred to their various national and state authorities.
The Borno State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajiya Zuwaira Gambo, said there was already a structure on the ground in the state to continue from where the DRR programme stopped.

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#MalamiGate: Multi-billion Naira Properties Of Nigeria’s Attorney-General Abubakar Malami’s Family Acquired After He Got Appointed As The Minister Of Justice

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#MalamiGate: Multi-billion Naira Properties Of Nigeria’s Attorney-General Abubakar Malami’s Family

Multi-billion Naira Properties Of Nigeria’s Attorney-General Abubakar Malami’s Family Acquired After He Got Appointed As The Minister Of Justice…

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Group Demands Probe Of Ekiti Governor, Fayemi, Over Alleged Fraudulent Ajaokuta Steel Company Transaction

The Ajaokuta Development Anti-corruption Vanguard has asked the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to probe allegations of financial impropriety linked to Kayode Fayemi, governor of Ekiti State, when he served as Minister of Solid Minerals.
The group in a statement by its Coordinator, Stephen Audu, on Monday said the deal was supervised by late former Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Abba Kyari.
It alleged that Fayemi at the time had proposed a technical audit that would determine the actual cost of fixing Ajaokuta Steel Complex to be completed in six weeks. 
“Up until today and despite the enormous amount spent, the result of that audit has not been published or made known to members of the public or the legislature,” the group said. 

The group added that in 2016 the House of Representatives through a request made by the Ministry of Solid Minerals then headed Fayemi duly appropriated N2,096,500,000 for the concession of the Ajaokuta Steel Complex in the 2017 Budget.
“The ministry engaged the services of some Ukrainian engineers who came down to Nigeria to conduct the technical auditing. Price Waterhouse Coopers was also contracted to collaboratively review the company’s indebtedness and statutory liabilities.
“The current Solid Mineral Minister, Olamilekan Adegbite, recently revealed that the Russian Government was about to carry out another technical audit on Ajaokuta Steel Company, meaning the initial contract awarded by Governor Fayemi was never executed and funds budgeted for the project were misappropriated by then minister.
“Also, It was said that The Society of Engineers was involved in the audits. But in an appearance by the society before the House of Representatives, they went on record to say that that never happened. Up till now, there is no proof that Society of Engineers participated in the audit. 
“Now the ministry is about to embark on another round of audit to take money from the system for the same thing that Fayemi claimed to have. Again, Otunba Niyi Adebayo as Minister of Trade and Industry, working with the present minister we learned, has appointed a non-reputable company known as Metprom to do another audit for N5bn,” the group said.                      
“Under Fayemi over N2bn study which translated to about $6.55 million in 2017, there was indeed an offer by a technically capable company to carry out the same study for a thirteenth of this sum, or $500,000 (Five Hundred thousand US dollars) which was rejected by the minister in favour of his cronies at PWC and some  Ukrainian engineers – despite the plant being Russian built.
The group further alleged that, “Fayemi and Engr Ataba, now Sole Administrator of Ajaokuta Steel, alongside others cooked up the need for a technical audit, got money for it; and with the help of a few staff of Ajaokuta steel, put up a shabby document which has since been rejected. 
“He also hired his friend’s company- Greenwich, current Minister of Trade from Ekiti, Otunba Niyi Adebayo’s company to consult for the National Ore Company at Itakpe. The former minister and current one were also said to have siphoned billions of naira from that.”
The group therefore called on the anti-graft agency to probe the allegations in the interest of the public.
 

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Investigate Akpabio And NDDC, Prove You Are Fighting Corruption, PDP Tells President Buhari

Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio

The Peoples Democratic Party has asked Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, to probe Godswill Akpabio, Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, over allegations of gross corruption.
The PDP in a statement by its Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbodiyan, said Akpabio should step down following revelations by the sacked Acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Develpment Commission, Joy Nunieh, who revealed alleged corrupt practices within the commission.
The PDP said, “The allegation by the former NDDC MD that a certain NDDC top notch said he can kill if Senator Akpabio asks him to do so, shows the level of recklessness and victimization in MDAs under the APC rule.
“More distressing is that the Buhari Presidency and the APC had remained silent even when the embattled minister has not provided any concrete defense to the allegations beyond personal attacks on the whistleblower. 

Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio

“Nigerians will recall that our party had in April alerted of massive looting in the NDDC and called for an investigation, which was however not addressed by the government.
“Our party had also alerted that the NDDC management has not been able to give a cogent explanation to the reported Lassa fever contract fraud through which over N4 billion Naira NDDC fund was alleged to have been frittered on hazy procurement deals. 

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EXPOSED: How Niger Delta Affairs Minister, Akpabio, NDDC Interim Management Committee Fraudulently Paid Over N600m For ‘Media Support’ To Cover Corrupt Activities

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“This is in addition to alleged N5.5 billion COVID-19 scandal which trails reports that the NDDC had already spent over N1.045 billion purportedly for supply of kits and palliatives to Nigerians in nine states.
“The PDP holds that any credible administration like the one the APC and the Buhari Presidency would want Nigerians to believe as running would have spoken out and commenced an immediate investigation into the matter if its officials are not complicit.”
VIDEO: I Slapped Minister Of Niger Delta, Akpabio, For Sexually Harassing Me –Ex-@NDDCOnline Managing Director, Nunieh WATCH FULL VIDEO: eth;ŸŽ¥:@ARISEtv pic.twitter.com/ucLxQMQypA— Sahara Reporters (@SaharaReporters) July 13, 2020

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Evidence Indicates COVID-19 Might Be Airborne, Wear Face Masks, NCDC Tells Nigerians

Chikwe Ihekweazu

The Nigeria Center for Disease Control has said new evidence indicates that the Coronavirus might be transmitted by air.
Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director-General of the agency, made this known during the COVID-19 Presidential Task Force briefing on Monday.
Ihekweazu said in the past research showed that the virus was transmitted through droplets only but new research was suggesting otherwise. 

Chikwe Ihekweazu

He said, “Understanding the modes of transmission of any new virus is very critical for defining response strategies. For COVID-19 from the very beginning, our understanding based on other coronaviruses was spread primarily through droplets.
“Droplets are excretions from the respiratory tracts that can’t stay on in the air. They ultimately fall to the ground after a few minutes. However, as we have studied transmission, studied clusters of these infections, we saw increasing evidence from clusters of infections. Clusters’ transmissions did not seem to be enough to explain the clusters that we are seeing.
“Diseases that are commonly spread by what we call airborne infection are things like measles and influenza that can be suspended in the air and transmit over longer distances. Over the past few weeks, increasing evidence has emerged that in addition to droplet infections, we cannot rule out that airborne transmission is also possible as a mode of transmission of COVID-19.”
He called on Nigerians to wear face masks and strictly adhere to social distancing guidelines.

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Displaced Persons Protest In Adamawa, Accuse Deputy Governor Of Taking Sides In Tribal Conflict

Crowther Seth

At least 3,000 displaced persons on Monday in Adamawa State embarked on a peaceful demonstration, booing and accusing the state’s deputy governor, Crowther Seth, of taking sides in the recent communal clash that claimed many lives.
Governor Ahmadu Fintiri had visited Guyuk Local Government Area to broker peace and commisirate with surviving victims of the violent conflict when the displaced persons expressed their anger. 

On July 9, 2020, no fewer than 26 persons were reportedly killed in violence involving the indigenous Lunguda people and their Waja settlers, who are predominantly found in Gombe State. 

During the demonstration on Monday, The displaced persons condemned the deputy governor, insisting that he had taken sides in the conflict. 

The people alleged that one Halilu, a close associate of the deputy governor, thrives on violent crimes including cattle rustling and war mongering and was benefitting from the situation through Seth.

Crowther Seth

Governor Fintiri however, promised to apprehend all those linked to the violence no matter their status in society.
 

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E2%80%93-drop-them-now-david-hundeyin Social Media Bill And Hate Speech Bill – Drop Them Now! By David Hundeyin

David Hundeyin

In November 2019, there was a furore in the Nigeria civil society space when two bills were introduced into the House of Representatives. Officially known as the “Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulation Bill 2019” and the “National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speeches Bill, 2019”, they quickly gained public notoriety as the “Social Media Bill” and the “Hate Speech Bill.”
There is little to say about these controversial pieces of legislation that has not been said already, but it is always worth pointing out that since the return of electoral democracy in 1999, these were two of the most anti-democratic and aggressively-worded bills ever proposed. There were clauses that contradicted separation of powers as stipulated in the constitution, clauses that placed unelected bureaucrats above the Supreme Court, clauses that made Nigerians guilty until proven innocent – it was a mess.
After a few weeks of rancour, both of these bills were quietly put on ice, pending another attempt at sneaking them through at a time when public attention is elsewhere. It is important for Nigerians to note that the bills in question have not been withdrawn, but are merely in cryogenic sleep, waiting to be reactivated at the right time. 

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This is why the time to demand for their unconditional withdrawal is now. It is always much easier to prevent bad legislation from passing than to get rid of it after it becomes law – especially when the proposed law would give unelected people the power of emperors and reduce Africa’s largest democracy to the level of the tiny South Asian island state they were allegedly plagiarised from.
Nigeria is not Singapore
In what has since become a recurring theme with legislation aimed at curbing social freedoms and shrinking the democratic space in Nigeria, both of these bills were largely sourced from similar laws in the South Asian island of Singapore. For different reasons, Singapore has become regarded as the gold standard of society and government that Nigeria should aspire to. In the popular Nigerian imagination it exists as a paradise state – a utopia with perfect social cohesion, world class infrastructure and a great economy.
From the point of view of the current Nigerian government, the fact that Singapore apparently achieved such results without bothering itself with little things like democratic debate, free speech and political representation is proof that Nigeria can be successfully governed and developed using the authoritarian template of Lee Kuan Yew. Far from being the utopia it is often portrayed as however, Singapore is in fact a conflict-riven society with deep social and ethnic divisions that are barely covered by an external veneer put in place by a dictatorial regime.
For example, Singapore ranks at number 158 on the 2020 Global Press Freedom Index – 43 places below Nigeria at number 115. There are intractable problems with ethnic discrimination and racial stratification that Lee Kuan Yew’s iron-fisted tenure intensified and masked. These draconian anti-free speech laws were used to persecute Singaporean political dissidents and pro-democratic individuals, with unreasonably long prison terms and even forms of torture like daily floggings being commonplace.
The Hate Speech bill in particular, is absolutely incongruous with the reality of Nigeria as a multi-ethnic electoral democracy with up to 500 distinct languages and dialects covering 993,000 sq km. In Singapore, it may have been possible for the government to enforce its single media narratives on barely 5 million people from two major ethnic groups – one of which is an overwhelming majority population – packed into just 721.5 sq km. For reference the Lekki Peninsula in Lagos (755 sq. km) is significantly bigger than Singapore and it has greater ethnic diversity.
Trying to replicate that model in a country ? the size of the USA with three equally populous majority groups and several minority groups which themselves are the size of mid-sized European countries, can only end in disaster. If the dangerous, autocratic powers being created by these bills come into effect, there is almost no possible scenario where it will not end up with a small group in power using tyranny as a political strategy.
Nigeria will once again start having thousands of political prisoners, unexplained disappearances, kangaroo courts and political exiles. Opposition politicians including those in office will inevitably be targeted, and even those on the right side of power will have to watch their backs constantly as the incubating strongman becomes impulsive and paranoid.
We have all been there before,
Social Media Bill, Hate Speech Bill, NGO Bill, NCDC Bill and NBC Amendment – Plus ça Change
While we may hold elections and have all the paraphernalia of a democratic state, creeping authoritarianism is good at insinuating itself into the national fabric and spreading undetected before people become aware. It is useful to think of these repeated attempts to legislate away Nigeria’s internal freedoms as an animal virus trying out different mutations before eventually finding one successful one that makes the jump to humans. Like our current battle against the novel coronavirus, the best strategy is widespread awareness and prevention.
This sensitisation and constant vigilance is a key part of the work that several CSOs like the Centre For Liberty carry out, with support from Voice Nigeria. It is however important to make the point that we will all be individually affected if Nigeria incrementally makes its way down the slippery slope to totalitarianism again. Such legislation is not just a problem for CSOs, journalists and politicians – it is a problem for every Nigerian who wants life, liberty, prosperity, health and hope for the future. This is our collective fight.
For anyone who has kept abreast of legislative and regulatory developments in Nigeria since President Muhammadu Buhari’s reelection in 2019, it comes as no surprise that no fewer than four separate attempts have been made to gut Nigeria’s constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech through the back door. In an analysis last year, I wrote that even though the bills were stood down from consideration, there would certainly be a ‘next time.’
That next time came in May in the form of the proposed Infectious Diseases Bill which like its Singaporean-influenced cousins, also proposed to end most constitutionally guaranteed freedoms including assumed innocence, right of legal recourse, property rights, freedom of speech and Habeas Corpus. Happening quietly and almost simultaneously, was an undebated amendment to Nigeria’s broadcasting code, which also quietly attacked the freedom and objectivity of the media by gutting its economic independence and sneaking in yet another prohibition on social media content.
All four legislations and regulatory codes have these elements in common:
1. They completely disregard the constitutionally guaranteed rights of Nigerians including assumed innocence, freedom of speech, freedom of association, Habeas Corpus, and especially the right to fair hearing and legal recourse, instead elevating unelected Director Generals into unquestioned Führers who exist above the court system.
2. They attack the economic and property rights of ordinary Nigerians, with special focus on those of media platforms and journalists, effectively trying to make the State its own regulator, and the sole determinant of what can and cannot go into the civil space for public discourse.
3. They elevate the government’s desire to control narratives above the citizens’ right to free speech by arbitrarily labeling such as ‘Hate Speech’, without any clear and justifiable explanation of what exactly such consists of. Such sweeping powers make these laws the perfect vehicle for open widespread censorship and castration of the civil space, including shutting down NGOs, censoring print and broadcast media and using internet blackouts to target social media users.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has overseen the period with the most frequent and brazen frontal attacks on press freedom, democratic engagement spaces and public discourse since the start of the Fourth Republic. Mr. Buhari’s antecedents as a military dictator under whom “Decree 4” entered the Nigerian political lexicon are well known. Prior to taking office, Mr. Buhari went to great lengths to assure local and international stakeholders that he would not attempt to repeat the mistakes of 1984.
Now is the time to walk that talk. As the de-facto leader of his political party which holds a majority in the National Assembly, it is time for Mr. Buhari to have some frank and much-needed conversations with his party members in and around Three Arms Zone about what year it is and which country we are in.
The so-called Social Media Bill and ‘Hate Speech Bill’ must be withdrawn from consideration unconditionally, so that Nigeria can continue on its long but promising road to becoming a prosperous open society. Everyone from concerned individuals to civil society organisations to people in and around the government must recognise that the highway to destruction is paved with good intentions. Most people involved in drafting and pushing these pieces of legislation do not necessarily have any intention of creating and nurturing a monster. However, out of 10 attempts to create a “Singapore”, 9 will yield an authoritarian hellscape with none of what makes Singapore great and all of what makes it terrible.
And even the one time that you get a “Lee Kuan Yew,” Singaporeans will tell you that it is not at all what it is made out to be.

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E2%80%93-post-mortem-adeola-soetan Magu – A Post-mortem By Adeola Soetan

Adeola Soetan

Which President does that?
The Senate rejected your nominee, Magu, based on the DSS report, an agency that you directly supervised, and you still went ahead to appoint him? Quite laughable!
By the time you appointed Magu, you should have fired the DSS Director General immediately for giving the Senate “false report” on Magu, if you felt so, insubordination and embarrassment of your high office for sending their damaging report against your favourite nominee “without” your knowledge when you supposed to be the first recipient of such report as their master.  You didn’t do that? Quite laughable.
I remember some Abobakus in their “their Buhari is infallible” chorus defended that obvious laxity in coordination to mean that “Buhari is giving his agencies free hand to operate” Idiocy!
Or in the alternative, you should have simply withdrawn Magu’s nomination and replaced him with another competent person, after all, no one including the President himself, is indispensable. 

Adeola Soetan

But you insisted that Magu would continue to serve as Ag. EFCC Chairman and he did that for 5 yrs! That itself was scandalous and ridiculous. It’s symptomatic of a very poor leadership and a president lacking coordinating ability to mobilize his subordinates with divergent views and interests for optimal performance.
Throughout my experience as a Corporate Relation Consultant, I never came across any organization that put any of their top management staff in acting capacity for five years.
Instead of taking a firm, prompt and decisive decision by adopting the principle of elimination by substitution or substitution by elimination or harmonization to resolve the pecking order peacefully but firmly as president,, Buhari preferred to dance to the gallery of the “Corruption is Fighting Back” Orchestra by insisting on Magu for 5 years while he didn’t resolve the problems in his kitchen cabinet that made the rejection of Magu by the Senate possible in the first instance and to re-present him to this pliable Senate for confirmation after one year of its Inauguration.
Your Chief  Hunter who has been doing his best  in the jungle of wild dangerous animals cannot be hunting with the mind of uncertainty of what his status is and will be eventually. You have definitely set him up to overdrive or misbehave at times in order to impress you for confirmation at the same time you have set him up for hunting by his powerful traducers in their game of mutual destruction, evidence piling and blackmail.
Even in the village, when an Oluode (head hunter) is to be appointed, a good Baale (village head) knows that all the Ode (hunters) must be in agreement after resolving conflicting interests and factions before final announcement of the Oluode with 21 gunshots procession to the Ogun shrine for appeasement of Ogunlakaye Oshimole (God of iron). If not, there will be endless conflict which may lead to the head hunter being hunted in the jungle.
Eventually, what Mr. President did was to allow contending power blocks in his power corridor to engage in endless battles of mutual destruction, blackmail, sabotage and hunting. And, at the end of the day, Magu the Head Hunter got hunted by other hunters. Magu edifice was built ab initio on a faulty and shaky foundation. What a pathetic story!

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Gunmen Kidnap 30 Persons In Kaduna

At least 30 persons have been reportedly kidnapped on the bridge linking Kaduna town and Millennium City in Kaduna State.
According to a source, one person, who tried to escape was killed by the gunmen. 

The source added that the heavily armed men in military uniforms pretended to be checking if people wore face masks by blocking the bridge on Sunday night and taking away victims to unknown destinations.

The incident has since sent panic across the area with road users now afraid to pass through the axis.
 

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Premium Times Publisher, Olorunyomi, Four Others Named CPJ 2020 International Press Freedom Awardees

Clockwise from top left: Svetlana Prokopyeva (Artiom Avanesov); Dapo Olorunyomi (Dapo Olorunyomi); Shahidul Alam (Shahidul Alam); Mohammad Mosaed (Farid Kamran Nia)

The Committee to Protect Journalists will honour four courageous journalists from Bangladesh, Iran, Nigeria and Russia with the 2020 International Press Freedom Award.
All four have been arrested or faced criminal prosecution in reprisal for their reporting.
CPJ will also honour lawyer, Amal Clooney, with the Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award.
“Like brave and committed journalists everywhere, CPJ’s honourees set out to report the news without fear or favour for the benefit of their communities, their country, and the world,” said Joel Simon, CPJ Executive Director. 

Clockwise from top left: Svetlana Prokopyeva (Artiom Avanesov); Dapo Olorunyomi (Dapo Olorunyomi); Shahidul Alam (Shahidul Alam); Mohammad Mosaed (Farid Kamran Nia)

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“They understood that they would confront powerful forces, enemies of the truth, who would try to stop them from doing their work. What they did not foresee was COVID-19. The global pandemic has not only made their jobs more difficult and dangerous, it has fuelled a ferocious press freedom crackdown as autocratic leaders around the world suppress unwelcome news under the guise of protecting public health,” Simon added.
Olorunyomi was described by the CPJ as a fierce defender of press freedom in Nigeria despite repeated government harassment.
He was arrested twice before having to go into hiding in 1995, and more recently he was arrested alongside a colleague in 2017 when police raided the Premium Times’ office on allegations of defamation.
The winners will be honoured on November 19, 2020, at CPJ’s annual benefit gala to be chaired this year by Patrick Gaspard, President of Open Society Foundations, and hosted by veteran broadcast journalist, Lester Holt.
Due to health and safety restrictions related to COVID-19, organisers say this year’s gala will be virtual, with video profiles, compelling press freedom stories, award presentations, and acceptance speeches streamed online and shared around the world.

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