FG declares war on rapists [Sun]

  • Pushes for domestication of law in states, prompt dispensation of justice

The Federal Government has announced that it will take decisive action against rapists, henceforth, describing the upsurge as embarrassing.

As part of the measures, it has decided to push for the domestication of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act (VAPPA), 2015, in states, to ensure rapists face deserved punishment for their actions.

Out of the 36 states of the federation, only nine have domesticated the VAPPA law.

The VAPPA defines rape as when a person intentionally penetrates the vagina, anus or mouth of another person with any other part of his/her body or anything else without consent, or with incorrectly obtained consent. Consent can be incorrectly obtained where it is obtained: by force/threats/intimidation; by means of false and fraudulent representation as to the nature of the act, by the use of substances capable of taking away the will of that person; by a person impersonating a married woman’s husband in order to have sex.

Child Rights Act (CRA), provides that sex with a child is rape, and anyone who has sexual intercourse with a child is liable to imprisonment for life upon conviction.

Federal Executive Council (FEC), presided over  by President Muhammadu Buhari, took the decision following a memo presented by the Minister of Women Affairs, Pauline Tallen, following the outrage that has greeted high cases of rape and gender-based violence in the country, as a result of lockdown necessitated by the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Outrage had trailed the death of Vera Uwaila Omozuwa, a 22-year-old Microbiology student, raped and killed in an empty church in Benin City.

Also, 18-year-old Barakat Bello, who was taking her bath, was raped and macheted to death in Ibadan, Oyo State.

Fourteen men in Jigawa State, were reported to have repeatedly raped a minor.

Briefing State House correspondents at the end of the fourth virtual meeting, which lasted seven hours, Tallen said members of council were unanimous in their decision.

She said: “I’m sure you are aware that, for the past few weeks, the country has been witnessed a lot of outrage and outcry because of the pandemic within the pandemic that we are facing.

“I know before COVID-19, we have always had pandemic of rape cases and gender-based violence. But with the lockdown due to COVID-19, women and children are locked down with their abusers and the number has escalated three times. There is no state that is an exception. This has reached an embarrassing situation that a memo was presented in council, calling for immediate intervention, legal and prompt dispensation of justice in the cases. Because, from the statistics we have and from the meetings I had with the 36 states commissioners of women affairs, we have hundreds of cases within our courts that have not been addressed. And out of one case that has been reported, be sure they are 10 others that have not been reported. As a result, we called for aggressive media campaigns, public enlightenment for people to rise up and picket against abuse of minors and rape cases.

“We also called on the judiciary for prompt dispensation of cases and the police to ensure rape cases are not treated with levity or wished away.

“These are issues that were presented before council and I am happy to announce that we got the full support of Mr. President and all members of council, that government will take decisive actions at the highest level to protect women and children in this country.”

Tallen said the council noted that there was a law already, the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act, 2015.

“That act covers everything but our problem is lack of domestication of that act. Out of the 36 states, only nine states. While the council was on, the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, also invited me to come and brief them on the same topic, because it has reached an alarming stage. I am happy to announce that the governors gave me 100 per cent, they are committed to join hands with the ministry to fight this dreaded scourge. Because, it is horrific because embarrassment is an understatement, it doesn’t give Nigeria a good image.

“We are destroying the future generation because, if you rape a child, you have destroyed that child for life and that is not acceptable.”

On the involvement of traditional rulers in the enlightenment campaign, Tallen said not only will the traditional rulers be engaged, religious leaders will be engaged as well. She said the ministries of information and culture and women affairs development will collaborate and launch a media advocacy campaign to aggressively address the issue at all levels because, most of the atrocities take place in rural areas.

“As soon as COVID-19 is cleared, we will move out with the minister of information on advocacy round the country.”

On the issues of minors being mostly affected, Tallen described it as most serious and most disturbing.

According to her, “I have put in place a team, in fact, a research is going on at all the state levels, while we have the national data collection at the ministry.

“We are also working closely with National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), to find out the reasons why a man of 80, 75, 60 will rape a child of one, two years.

“In fact, the recent one in Kaduna is a father raping his daughter of three months. He had been doing that until the child turned nine months and he was caught. So many horrible cases that will break your heart. I think there is more to it. It is either diabolical or mental cases.

“So, these are the issues and a research is going on to identify (them) because the ministry of health is also concerned and we are working with them. There are issues of mental health and other issues that need to be addressed.”

 

Why we’re opposed to Infectious Disease Bill –Govs [Sun]

  • As Reps bars journalists from hearing

The House of Representatives, yesterday, barred journalists from covering the public hearing on the controversial Control of Infectious Diseases Bill organised by the House Committees on Health Services, Health Institutions and Justice.

This is as the governors of the 36 states under the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) said they were opposed to the bill for seeking to emasculate them.

A security personnel from the office of the Sergeant-at-Arm stationed at the entrance of Hearing Room 028 said he was instructed not to allow journalists in.

He said it  was only the chairman of the House Committee on Health Services, Tanko Sununu, and the committee’s clerk, Joyce Umeru, that could permit the admittance of journalists accredited to cover activities of the House into the public hearing.

According to him, they were strictly instructed to allow  only reporters from the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) and Channels Television into the venue.

The Control of Infectious Diseases Bill,  which is sponsored by Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, and two others has been trailed by controversy,  amidst allegations that the bill was plagiarised from a similar bill in Singapore.

The bill had generated furore on the floor of the House, last month, after Gbajabiamila attempted to push it through first and  second reading as well as  committee consideration within a few hours.

Gbajabiamila in his speech at the public hearing,   said the House will treat contributions from members of the public seriously.

“I assure you of three things; the first is that no part of this bill is the product of any external influence. The second is that we will not ignore your contributions and recommendations, as the House of Representatives is wholly committed to refining this bill until we have a document that solves our present problems without creating new ones or exacerbating unforeseen challenges.

“We look forward to producing final legislation that reflects our own best intentions as well as the considered contributions of all people of good conscience. It is necessary to note that a lot of the engagement on this proposed legislation has been ill-informed and outrightly malicious. There are those in our society, who benefit from promoting the falsehood that every government’s action is cynical and every policy proposal must be the product of malignant influence.

“We must never succumb to the impulses that these elements represent, and we must reject them always as doing so is an act of excellent service to a nation we love and are beholden to”.

In his presentation, NGF chairman, Kayode Fayemi,  said the proposed legislation seeks to take away the authority of governors to take specific measures in their states during an outbreak of an infectious disease.

Fayemi, who is also governor of Ekiti State said “a situation where governors do not have any power to make regulations in their states in the event of an outbreak of an infectious disease or to declare any part of the state an infectious area is not only inimical to the country’s federalism, but a recipe for disaster.

“The bill appears to vest overbearing discretionary powers on the Director General of the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the central authorities while making no provision for reviewing and controlling the exercise of such powers,” he said.

Meanwhile, the House has called for a review of the country’s foreign policy  as part of efforts to halt racial discrimination and oppression against the black race across the world.

It also mandated its Committees on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora to organise a conference of local and international stakeholders to fashion out a comprehensive approach to tackle rising cases of discrimination,  oppression against Nigerians,  Africans and other other black people.

 

No result if Edo, Ondo polls’re disrupted –INEC [Sun]

  • Vows to protect integrity of guber elections to avoid what happened in Bayelsa, Kogi

Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has issued a stern warning to politicians ahead of the governorship elections in Ondo and Edo states.

Nigeria has governorship elections scheduled to take place in Ondo and Edo on October 20 and September 19, respectively.

Prof. Yakubu boss, who spoke at a virtual event on Democracy and Elections in West Africa organised by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Washington DC in collaboration with the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), said INEC is committed to ensuring free, fair and credible elections.

The event sought to bring to the limelight, the future of democracy in the West African region.

INEC chairman said where an election is disrupted, the commission will not make a declaration on the outcome due to lack of adherence to guiding rules of the election.

“Where the election is disrupted and the commission cannot vouch for the integrity of the process, we will not go ahead to make any declaration.”

Noting that political parties have been duly noted on this, Yakubu said: “You (political parties, politicians and voters) either behave for the elections to be concluded in a free and fair manner or we do what the law says.”

Yakubu said there will be no point making a declaration in such situation because the commission will not endorse fraud or function outside the minimum standard set for the conduct of credible elections anywhere.

“While elections are disrupted, we should look far beyond the electoral commission. I think you put your fingers on the problem, on the political class and the security challenges. And that is why we have been engaging with them.

“Yesterday, I had a meeting with the national security adviser, we are meeting with all the security agencies. But what pro-active measure is the commission going to take to ensure that if there is a replay of what happened in Bayelsa and Kogi, we will protect the integrity of the process,” he added.

Addressing challenges the commission might face in conducting an election in a Coronavirus pandemic period, he said Nigeria with 10 bye-elections and over 6.2 million voters was determined to ensure democracy is not truncated.

“Our electoral and democratic process can’t be suspended on account of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

He said proper measures have been put in place to contain the possible spread of COVID-19 among voters and officials.

Listing some of the measures, the INEC Chairman said, machines used for voter authentication will be disinfected, the use of face masks and a two-meter (six feet) physical distance between voters will be enforced while infrared thermometers will be provided in voting and collation areas.

He said adequate security during the process will be put in place while officials participating in the conduct of the election will be properly trained in line with advisories and guideline listed by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

 

Governors, Labour, doctors reject Infectious Disease Bill [Nation]

GOVERNORS, doctors and Labour on Wednesday rejected the Control of Infectious Disease Bill during a public hearing on Wednesday.

The Bill seeks to repeal the Quarantine Act of 1926, the Nigeria National Health Act (2004), National Programme on Immunisation Act (2004) and the Environmental Health Officers (Registration ETC) of 2002.

The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) opposed the bill, which passed second reading on April 28.

NGF Chairman and Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi said the Bill gives governors scant operational space to manoeuvre.

“This Bill takes away the only authority the governors have to take specific steps and measures in their domains during an outbreak of infectious disease,” he said.

NGF believes the bill is undemocratic as it conflicts with the Constitution.

He noted that too many powers were given to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) Director-General.

The NGF chairman said such a bill ought to take into consideration public health necessity.

“The public should have an opportunity to participate in the formulation of policies and laws and implementation should be open and clear to promote public trust which is crucial for preventing infection spread.

“Rights of individuals to contest an order or proceeding should be protected as much as possible

“In cases of considerable economic losses as a result of the imposition of such measures, international recommendations proffer that fair compensation be provided to those individuals.

“Any intervention seeking to provide a comprehensive legal and policy framework to ensure the effective management of cases involving infectious diseases…must be conducted within the context of the federation, carrying every stakeholder along and holding extensive consultations.

“The NGF is concerned that the governors were not consulted in putting the Bill together, neither was any role created for them, in utter disregard for their constitutional functions,” Fayemi said.

The NMA disagreed with many aspects of the Bill, such as compulsory invasive medical examination.

Through its President, Prof. Innocent Ujah, the association faulted the provision for compulsory treatment or vaccination, saying it is against the ethics of the profession.

Wabba, who represented the Organised Labour, highlighted 17 grey areas in the bill, which he described as undemocratic.

“Having read through the Bill, the only reinforcing and overwhelming voice is that of dictatorship.

“In presenting this memorandum, we choose to uphold our concern that the claim of commitment to the protection of public health and safety does not turn out to be an excuse for the provision of a tool in the hand of an autocrat, empowered to ride roughshod over the fundamental rights of the Nigerian People,” he said.

NCDC Director-General Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu said he would speak on the Bill today.

Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila said a lot of the engagement on the proposed legislation “has been ill-informed and outrightly malicious”.

Represented by the House Leader, Alhassan Ado Doguwa, he said: “There are those in our society who benefit from promoting the falsehood that every government action is cynical, and every policy proposal must be the product of malignant influence.

“We must never succumb to the impulses that these elements represent, and we must reject them always as doing so is an act of excellent service to a nation we love and are beholden to.”

 

FEC okays N120.7b for projects [Nation]

PROJECTS valued at N120.7 billion were on Wednesday approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) in the Road and Water sectors.

Works and Housing Minister Babatunde Fashola told reporters at the State House in Abuja after on Wednesday’a FEC virtual meeting that three roads were approved for his ministry at N115.65 billion.

He said: “The Ministry of Works presented two memoranda for consideration and award of three roads, all of which the Council graciously approved.

“They are the award of the Jebi-Lamba-Bele Road in Adamawa State, for N26.829 billion. The Achingali-Udobi-Udona-Umuwana-Ubakala Road, including the bridge, across the Imo River in Imo State, for N11.540 billion. The Jarmai-Bashar-Zuruk-Andame-Karim Lamido Road, linking Plateau and Taraba states, for N77.279 billion.

“These projects are consistent with the ministerial responsibilities we are mandated to execute under the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan and the commitment to improving road transport infrastructure because these roads connect critical agriculture, mining and economic areas of the country, to improve the ease of doing business, to reduce journey time and so on.

“For example, the road that links Plateau and Taraba states, when completed along with the Ibi Bridge, will reduce the journey time from Abuja to Jalingo in Taraba State from about 12 hours to about eight hours.

“It will be a significant reduction in journey time. Also, the other roads will be equally beneficial in bringing down cost of goods, cost of transportation and cost of doing business.”

Water Resources Minister Suleiman Adamu said the Council approved N5.02 billion for the revised estimated cost for the completion of Zungeru-Wushishi Water Supply Project in Niger State.

He said: “Today, we presented to Council a request for approval of revised estimated total cost for the completion of Zungeru-Wushishi Water Supply Project in Niger State in favour of Messr R. Services, Zilon Construction Services Joint Venture  for  N5.021 billion, raising the project from N1.93 billion to N6.955 billion, inclusive all taxes.

“This is a project that was started in 1998 by the Niger State government. They could not continue. Eventually, it was transferred to the Federal Government.”

Interior Minister Rauf Aregbesola said the Federal Fire Service responded to 2,615 fire calls, saved 724 lives and assets valued at N1.629 trillion between June and October 2019.

The minister said the figure was evaluated within the operational competence of the fire service to evaluate the values of property to put clear information and message of their activities and what they have done.

“In their intervention therefore what this means is that they have prevented destruction of assets worth N1.629 trillion between June and October 2019,while saving 724 lives and responded to 2215 fire calls,” Aregbesola said.

 

Edo, Ondo: violence will stop results declaration, INEC warns [Nation]

– APC panel screens Obaseki, Ize-Iyamu, others

THE umpire is talking tough on the forthcoming Edo and Ondo states governorship elections slated for September 19 and October 10.

No result will be declared where the poll is characterised by violence, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said.

Its Chairman Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said the experience in the Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections where violence was prevalent had taught the commission a lesson.

Speaking on the preparations for the polls at a virtual workshop organised by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in partnership with the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Prof. Yakubu said: “Where the election is disrupted and the commission cannot vouch for the integrity of the process, we will not go ahead to make any declaration. And this we have told the political parties pointblank; you either behave for the elections to be concluded in a free and fair manner or we do what the law says.

“If we can’t vouch for the credibility of the process, there is no point concluding it and making declaration. That we have committed to.

“The commission will not endorse fraud and what is clearly outside the minimum standard we have set for the conduct of credible elections anywhere.”

The commission reiterated its commitment to free and fair elections in the two states.

Yakubu added: “While elections are disrupted, we should look far beyond the electoral commission. I think you should put your fingers on the problem, on the political class and the security challenges. And that is why we have been engaging with them,” he said.

The INEC chief said he had a meeting with the national security adviser, we are meeting with all the security agencies. We will protect the integrity of the process.

Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki said last night that he was unsure of getting justice from the panel that screened him and five other aspirants contesting for the All Progressives Congress (APC) ticket.

Speaking to reporters after spending about two hours before the panel at the APC secretariat in Abuja, Obaseki said: “The last time I came here, I asked that National Chairman Adams Oshiomhole should recuse himself from the process in the interest of peace and justice. But as a party man, I have had to go through the screening like everybody else.

“Since he is the judge and the jury in this matter, I will just wait for the outcome of the screening. I have given them all the information they need; the controversial certificate from the University of Ibadan has been tendered.

“Like I said, as a party man, I have endured through the screening process but I do not believe that I will get justice because Comrade Adams Oshiomhole is an interested party in the Edo process.

Shedding light on what transpired at the screening session, the aspirant said, “One of the questions that was asked was why did I issue a gazette that will prevent the party from performing direct elections in Edo. That did I not see it as an anti party activity? I just felt that if we put politics above the lives of the people of Edo State, that we may be missing the point”.

Obaseki arrived for the screening at about 8pm in company with Senator Domingo Obende. The governor had earlier in the day reported for the verification process but hurriedly left.

Four of the aspirants – Pastor Ize-Iyamu, Chief Chris Ogiemwonyi, Dr. Pius Odubu and Mr. Osaro Obaze – were screened between 2pm and 4pm.

The last aspirant to be screened was Mr. Mathew Iduoriyekemwen.

Chairman of the screening committee, Prof. Jonathan Ayuba, told reporters before commencement that his committee is not a judical panel of inquiry but assigned to carry out the verification of credentials submitted by  the aspirants.

 

Public hearing: Govs, NMA, NLC, others tackle Reps over NCDC bill [Punch]

Legislation threatens Nigeria’s federalism, a recipe for disaster – NGF

The Nigeria Governors’ Forum, the  Nigeria Labour Congress and the Nigerian Medical Association on Wednesday faulted the Quarantine Act (Repeal and Enactment) Bill 2020, also known as the Control of Infectious Diseases Bill 2020.

The NGF, the NLC and the NMA at the  House of Representatives public hearing on the bill in Abuja, said the proposed law would lead to confusion.

The House organised the hearing following the uproar over the proposals as well as an alleged plan by the lawmakers to block inputs by stakeholders and members of the public.

The House,  a few weeks ago passed the bill for second reading. The proposed law was jointly sponsored by the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila; chairmen of the House committees on Health Institutions and Health Services, Messrs Paschal Obi and Tanko Sununu, respectively.

But protests greeted the proposed law, titled, ‘A Bill for an Act to Repeal the Quarantine Act, Cap. Q2, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004, and Enact the Control of Infectious Diseases Bill, Make Provisions Relating to Quarantine and Make Regulations for Preventing the Introduction into and Spread in Nigeria of Dangerous Infectious Diseases.’

The bill seeks to repeal the Quarantine Act of 1926 and when passed, will also repeal the Nigeria National Health Act, 2004, National Programme on Immunisation Act, Cap N71, LFN 2004; and the Environmental Health Officers (Registration, etc) 2002.

If passed into law,  the minister of health will be empowered by law to declare any premises to be an isolation centre for the purpose of preventing the spread or possible outbreak of infectious diseases.

It also confers on the police, the power to arrest and quarantine violators without warrant.

Section 13 of the bill also seeks to give the NCDC Director-General the power to order the isolation of people having or suspected to have an infectious disease for a period of time subject to the discretion of the DG.

You didn’t consult us, govs tell Reps

At the public hearing, the Chairman of the NGF and Governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, criticised several proposals in the bill, saying that they would have frustrated the response to the COVID-19 pandemic if they had been passed into law.

Fayemi said, “The NGF is concerned that the governors were not consulted in putting the bill together, neither was any role created for them, in utter disregard for their constitutional functions.”

He explained that the current  Quarantine Act gave the President responsibility to provide such sanitary stations, buildings and equipment.

According to him,  Section 8 of the Act gives state governors the power to exercise the responsibilities vested in the President under the Quarantine Act, where these responsibilities are not exercised by the President.

Fayemi stated, “The Act gives governors very scant operational space to manoeuvre and regrettably, the proposed bill took away even that. This bill takes away the only authority the governors have to take specific steps and measures in their domains during an outbreak of an infectious disease.

“A situation where state governors do not have any power to make regulations in their states in the event of an outbreak of an infectious disease, or to declare any part of the state an infectious area, is not only inimical to the country’s federalism but a recipe for disaster.”

The NGF chairman stated that the current situation where the COVID-19 regulations made by the President restricted movements in only two states – Lagos and Ogun –including the FCT “would have been chaotic” had the bill been the existing legislation governing infectious diseases and curbing their spread.

The forum also noted that governors, in exercise of the powers vested in them by the Quarantine Act, issued Executive Orders to ensure the control of the spread of COVID-19 in each of their states, since the regulations made by the President did not extend to the other 34 states.

Fayemi said, “Taking away this power of the state governments in the proposed new bill would cause untold hardship and suffering in states and negate the principles of federalism.”

Vesting all powers in President, a recipe for confusion – Govs

The NGF chairman said, “The bill vests all the powers in the President. The absence of de-centralisation of powers to the states is anachronistic and a recipe for confusion.

“Given the diversity of Nigeria and the country’s varying geopolitical and social dimensions, and learning from the current experiences with COVID-19, it is imperative that state governments are actively involved in helping to curb the spread of infectious diseases in each of their states. The dis-similarity in the country’s composition means that were this bill currently before the House to pass in its present form, the NCDC is ill-equipped to adequately address the peculiarities of each state.”

Fayemi faults powers given to NCDC DG

“It is always dangerous to vest uncontrollable powers in any one person. The bill empowers the NCDC to perform certain acts, which are directly in conflict with constitutional guarantees to fundamental rights,” he stated.

The governors cited the instance of Section 6 of the bill, which mandates the compulsory testing of a person on the mere suspicion of the DG, and Section 10 (3) which gives him  powers to use force to enter any premises without warrant, while the test in Section 6 would be at the expense of the person, failing which he would be liable to stiff penalties.

Fayemi said governors  should be given  the “power to declare a place to be an infectious area and to make regulations and directives towards prevention and further spread of an infectious disease within the state, where the president is yet to do so.”

Bill violates people’s rights – Labour

The President of the NLC, Ayuba Wabba, who  recalled that the legislation had generated “a lot of interests across Nigeria”, stated that any opposition to the bill was not an opposition to the House.

While he noted that the Quarantine Act of 1926 was due for review, the NLC boss said stakeholders were only asking that the right thing be done.

Wabba said, “The first issue I want to posit is that rights are important and inseparable. Some are so fundamental that they have to attain the status of being the hallmark of constitutional democracy. So, in making laws we must also safeguard laws and rights that are already fundamental. Therefore, our presentation will be premised on some of those provisions that we think fundamentally they are going to infringe on existing rights which the governors’ forum has tried to highlight.”

…Bill’ll create draconian laws, lead to abuse – Falana-led group

Also, the Alliance on Surviving COVID-19 and Beyond, a coalition of civil society groups led by a human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana, faulted most of the proposals in the bill, saying they were in  conflict with the constitution.

The ASCAB, in the memorandum presented to the House and signed by Falana, a copy of which our correspondent obtained, stated that the bill “poses  danger to the human rights of the Nigerian people.”

The group partly said, “We acknowledge that all rights are important and inseparable, but some are so fundamental that they have attained the stature of being the hallmark of constitutional democracy. State actors and fellow citizens ought not to put fundamental rights in jeopardy but must duly observe, uphold and respect them. Concerning fundamental rights, all actors must maintain utmost self restraint.

“We observe that the powers conferred on the DG of the NCDC are so pervasive as to touch on every aspect of the life of a citizen, and that no objective standards have been created for preventing arbitrariness in the claimed exercise of these powers; further that there is generally no room allowed for judicial scrutiny which makes the bill in our view a recipe for tyranny.”

According to him, “in the hands of a power-drunk autocrat, the bill, if passed into law as it is, would pose a clear and present danger to the realisation of an ordered society.

He stated,  “Our first position is to ask that the bill as a whole be jettisoned and proceed to make specific proposals in view of existing pieces of legislation.”

Falana said, “With due respect to the leadership of the House, the bill is superfluous, potentially illegal and unconstitutional.” He referred the parliament to the provisions of the NCDC Act 2018.

He stated, “However, having carefully perused the provisions of the bill, we can confidently say that we consider it a potentially dangerous piece of legislation that we recommend should be completely rejected.”

ASCAB also criticised the bill’s definition of infectious diseases as including Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, cholera, leprosy, malaria, measles, polio, typhoid, tuberculosis, yellow fever, gonorrhoea and syphilis, while in another part it listed plague, yellow fever (again) and coronavirus disease as “dangerous infectious diseases.”

Falana said, “ASCAB rejects the wholesale categorisation of common ailment such as malaria as an infectious disease, for which any person may be arrested, detained and isolated. We question the propriety of the listing of all the named diseases as infectious diseases.

Some comments on bill ill-informed, outright malicious –  Gbajabiamila

But  Gbajabiamila, while declaring the event open, said many comments on the bill were “ill-informed and outright malicious.

“There are those in our society who benefit from promoting the falsehood that every government action is cynical, and every policy proposal must be the product of malignant influence.”

The Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, Prof Mojisola Adeyeye,  in her presentation, said some sections of the bill should be amended.

Laws must recognise Nigeria’s federal structure – NMA

Also, the Secretary-General of the NMA, Dr Phillips Ekpe, asked, “The following questions ought to be asked: ‘Why the bill? Why the urgency to pass it into law? Why the public outcry? What are the remedies to assuage the outcry?

He stated, “Such laws ought to recognise the federal structure of the nation, and should not lead to a conflict between the national and sub-national governments in executing their statutory functions.”

 

Taraba killings: Confessions of killer soldiers Malami shields from trial [Punch]

ADELANI ADEPEGBA writes on the alleged involvement of 10 soldiers in the killing of policemen, who were assigned to arrest a kidnap kingpin, Bala Hamisu, in Taraba State, and the statements made by the soldiers at the sitting of the joint investigation panel consisting of the army and the police personnel in 2019

The curious decision of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, (SAN), to drop charges against 10 soldiers in the case involving an alleged Taraba State kidnapping kingpin, Bala Hamisu, could be described as a brazen attempt to make a mockery of the nation’s criminal justice system.

Hamisu, popularly known as Wadume, had in his statement identified his accomplices, including 10 soldiers and two policemen. They are Captain Tijjani Balarabe; Staff Sgt. David Isaiah; Sgt. Ibrahim Mohammed; Corporal Bartholomew Obanye; Private Mohammed Nura; Lance Corporal Okorozie Gideon and Corporal Markus Michael.

Others are L/Corporal Nvenaweimoeimi Akpagra;  Staff Sgt. Abdullahi Adamu, and Private Ebele Emmanuel, ASP Aondona Iorbee, and one Ahmad Suleiman (aka Dan Ball).

Wadume was allegedly assisted to escape on August 6, 2019, by the soldiers attached to Battalion 93, Takum, led by Balarabe after the police team which arrested him came under attack from the troops.

Three policemen and two civilians were killed during the incident while five police officers were injured. The dead included Inspector Mark Ediale, 36, Sgt. Dahiru Musa, 40, Owolabi Babajide, 24, Farouk Bashir, 30, and Usman Danazumi, 44.

The autopsy carried out at the Garki Hospital, Abuja, on August 15 and 16 by a team of pathologists led by AIG Wilson Akhiwu, indicated that the men sustained bullet injuries.

Ediale’s death was attributed to “hemorrhagic shock from lacerated abdominal viscera and fractured vertebra caused by a rifled gunshot to the trunk and mild hypertensive cardiovascular disease.” Musa’s demise, according to the pathologists, was caused by a close-range rifle shot to the head.

Listed as exhibits in the case are the written statements of the defendants, photographs of the victims, autopsy reports, six AK47 rifles recovered from the gang, three empty shells, one live ammunition and six Volkswagen Sharon buses, and one (police) Toyota Hiace bus, among others.

The exhibits also included the station diary of Ibbi police station and other documents; the call logs showing the phone communication between Wadume, Balarabe and the police officers at Ibbi police station.

Indications that the soldiers may not face justice became apparent following the refusal of the military to hand them over to the police for interrogation. The soldiers were also not brought to court despite the March 16 order of Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court, Abuja, directing the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, to produce them for arraignment.

Below are their roles in the incident and their statements at the joint investigation panel headed by Rear Admiral I.T. Olaiya, which had representatives  from the Nigerian Army, the Navy, Nigeria Police, the Department of State Service  and the Defence Intelligence Agency

Capt. Tijjani Balarabe exchanges  191 phone calls with Wadume, collects N200,000

Balarabe,46, commanded the troops who attacked the Intelligence Response Team which was taking Wadume to the Taraba State police headquarters. Wadume was apprehended for killing his victim, Usman Garba, after receiving N106.3m ransom.

Police investigations showed that the army captain exchanged 191 phone conversations with the kidnap kingpin between July 9 and August 6, 2019. In one instance, the logs showed that the two men exchanged 166 phone calls.

Documents also showed that Wadume similarly made several calls to the Ibbi Divisional Crime Officer. The military officer in his statement to the joint investigation panel set up by the Chief of Defence Staff admitted that Wadume was his friend, noting that the alleged kingpin once gave him fish worth N50,000. Balarabe also said that Wadume gave him N200,000 to repair a patrol van which was having mechanical problems.

“The N200,000 he gave me is as a result of the challenges we had with the vehicle for patrolling the community. The local government chairman repaired two patrol vans as the Battalion (military) only gave me N7,000 for four months for fuel,” the captain stated.

On the attack on the IRT team, the commander explained that he was informed by a resident that Wadume was abducted by unknown persons in a bus, adding that he radioed the troops at the checkpoints to intercept the policemen.

He added, “I interviewed one of the men who said they were sent from Abuja to arrest Alhaji (Wadume). We moved the injured to the hospital and the DCO Wukari confirmed that they are policemen.

“When I arrived at my camp, my soldiers, DCO Ibbi, ASP Iorbee and a civilian were removing the handcuffs from Alhaji. After removing the handcuffs, I asked Alhaji to ask the crowd to leave so that we can do our work.” Balarabe disclosed that he asked the DCO to switch off his phone to prevent the military police from reaching him.

There are reports that Balarabe has been rewarded with a course at the Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji, where he is cooling off in a classroom instead of answering hard questions inside the courtroom.

Isaiah hands over police rifle to Army captain

Nothing much was known about Isaiah, save the fact that he was part of the troops who carried out the attacks on the policemen on Balarabe’s orders. He was said to be close to the captain and one of his trusted henchmen.

In his statement, the sergeant who enlisted in the Army in 1994 said he received a call from Balarabe directing him to intercept a Toyota Humber bus in which Wadume was abducted, adding that he was among those who chased the bus which crashed.

He noted, “I discovered one AK47 rifle belonging to the bus occupants on the ground and handed it over to my OC, Capt. Balarabe who ordered us to convey the accident victims to our camp. On reaching there, I saw Alhaji Hamisu in handcuffs and our OC ordered us to chase way the crowd out of our camp.”

My OC asked me to record my conversation with DCO –Corporal Bartholomew Obanye

Obanye who joined the army as a recruit in his statement explained that Balarabe directed him to ask Iorbee not to bring up the issue of the handcuffs on Wadume if he was asked. “There is a voice record of my conversation with the DCO because my OC (Balarabe) asked me to record all my calls with him,” he stated.

Murdered policemen identified themselves –Corporal Micheal Markus

In his statement to the JIP, Markus admitted that the IRT team identified themselves as policemen, but did not tender any proof of identification.

The driver stated, “We saw their vehicle coming and we blocked it. Three of them came down and said they are policemen; we asked them for their ID card but they entered into their bus and drove away. On reaching Gidanwaya, we saw that the bus had somersaulted and then I heard gunshots from the side of the bus.”

 

Family demands justice as rape victim fights for life [Punch]

The family of a rape victim, identified simply as Favour, has demanded justice even as she is currently fighting for her life at the National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi, Lagos State.

It was gathered that Favour was allegedly raped until she became unconscious by 28-year-old Godday Robinson and dumped in a deep pit in the Agbara area of Ogun State.

She was returning from work on April 23, 2020 when the incident happened.

PUNCH Metro learnt that Godday allegedly waylaid the victim and raped her for rebuffing his love advances.

Our correspondent gathered that the suspect allegedly beat and slammed the victim on the edges of the drainage channel and later pushed her into it.

Favour, according to her aunt, Mary Bassey, could not talk nor sit as the injury she sustained affected her spinal cord.

Bassey, who spoke to PUNCH Metro, urged the police to prosecute the suspect.

It was learnt that the Ogun State Government had taken over the medical bills of the victim.

Narrating the incident to our correspondent, Bassey said, “Favour was formerly living with the suspect’s sister, because they work together in the same factory at the OPIC Estate in Agbara. Godday came to visit his sister and saw Favour and after that visit, he started coming frequently and later moved in with his sister till he raped Favour when his sister was not around.

“It was neighbours, who rescued her and took Godday to the police station, where he wrote an undertaken that he would not touch her again, but Favour had to leave his sister’s place and started living with us.

“On the day of the incident, Favour was supposed to come home in the morning after her night duty, but we did not see her; so, we had to call some of her co-workers on the same shift with her, but they said they all left the factory together.

“We started looking for her but we didn’t see her till the next day when someone informed me that they saw a girl inside a gutter claiming that she was raped; so, I went there to check if it was Favour and when I saw her, I could not believe that she would be alive, but people advised that I should go and call the police before we could take her to hospital.

“When the police came, she was able to tell them what happened and who raped her before she was taken to hospital. If the police had not followed us, the hospital would not have attended to us, because her fingernails were peeled off and her face was full of blood.

“She said Godday told her that he was going to kill her and it would be the odour that would make people to know that her corpse was there.

“We moved from one hospital to another before we were finally referred to Igbobi. She still can’t talk or sit as the injury affected her spinal cord. We are passing food through her nose as she can’t eat with her mouth. We want the suspect to be prosecuted for putting Favour’s life in danger; he has cost us a lot of things and we want him to pay for this.”

When contacted, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Abimbola Oyeyemi, stated that the suspect would be charged on Monday as the command had concluded its investigation.

He added that the suspect would be charged with rape and attempted murder.

“The suspect will surely be prosecuted for rape and attempted murder. We can’t allow him to go and commit more atrocities, so he’s going to be prosecuted. The command is just concluding the investigation and he will be charged on Monday,” Oyeyemi said.

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