INEC: PDP Rejects National Commissioner Nominee [LEADERSHIP]

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has rejected the appointment of presidential special assistant on social media, Ms Lauretta Onochie as a national commissioner in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The party while describing Onochie as a card-carrying member of the All Progressives Congress (APC), said her appointment is a provocative assault on the nation’s constitution and democratic process.

The national publicity secretary of PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, said from the President’s public promises, it would have been expected that he was desirous of leaving a legacy of credible elections.

Meanwhile, the Minority Caucus of the Senate has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately withdraw the nomination of Ms. Lauretta Onochie as a National Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

President Buhari had in a letter to the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, read at plenary on Tuesday, nominated Onochie alongside three others National Commissioners in the electoral commission.

But reacting to the development, Senate Minority Leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, in a terse statement sent to journalists, said by nominating Onochie, Buhari has willfully gone against the constitution

that he swore to uphold.

“Item F, paragraph 14 of the Third Schedule of 1999 Constitution (as amended) forbids a card-carrying member of a political party to be a member of INEC.

In the same vein, a three-time member of the National Assembly, Senator Dino Melaye, has also asked President Buhari to immediately rescind the nomination of his Special Assistant on Social Media, Ms. Lauretta Onochie, as a National Commissioner of INEC.

In a press statement personally signed by Melaye on Tuesday, the former lawmaker described the nomination as unconstitutional, affront on the patience of Nigerians and an insult to the institution of INEC.

 

Salaries: FG May Consider ASUU’s UTAS Over IPPIS _ NASS [LEADERSHIP]

The federal government yesterday said it may consider the adoption of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS), a software developed by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), for payment of salaries to University teachers, as an alternative to the governments Integrated Payroll Personnel Information System (IPPIS).

Consequently, the new software will be presented to the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation today Wednesday for further verification.

While addressing journalists after about two-and-half hours of closed-door meeting last night at the National Assembly complex, minister of Labour, Dr Chris Ngige said the alternative platform presented by ASUU was a home-grown technology, which deserves to be assessed thoroughly.

“We agreed at the meeting to give the required consideration to the UTAS alternative they came up with as a way of finding lasting solution to the lingering crisis over the implementation of IPPIS.

“We have neither jettisoned the implementation of the IPPIS nor fully accepted UTAS. The level we moved to now is to subject ASUU’s UTAS to integrity test and in doing so, it will be presented to users like the

Office of Accountant-General of the Federation on Wednesday.

“After that, it will be sent to the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and from there to the office of the National Security Adviser for a second look.

“The platform is an option grown device that requires stage-by-stage consideration and from the look of things, it’s good,” Ngige said. For his part, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Tertiary

Education and TETFund, Senator Ahmad Baba Kaita (APC, Katsina North), said the interface had not ended but close to a stage of compromise by the two parties.

“The meeting brokered by the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, among the various stakeholders achieved a lot today with agreement on the need to subject the UTAS alternative brought forward by ASUU for integrity test by all relevant departments of the government,” Kaita said.

The stakeholders meeting was convened by the leadership of the National Assembly in order to find a middle ground in Federal Government-ASUU impasse.

 

Soldiers confront protesters, NBA demands audit of SARS evil centres [PUNCH]

The Nigerian Bar Association on Tuesday urged the Federal Government to show sincerity in its disbanding of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad by throwing all detention centres of SARS open.

The NBA president, Mr Olumide Akpata, who made the call at a press conference in Abuja,  listed some of the  SARS’ infamous detention centres in the country as Abuja “human abattoir” as well as the squad’s detention centres in Lagos and Port Harcourt.

He called for a comprehensive audit of all detention centres of the disbanded squad to take stock of detainees.

The NBA made the call on Tuesday as the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, said he had set up the Special Weapons and Tactics Team that would replace the disbanded SARS.

Recall that the IGP on Sunday disbanded SARS following protests by youths, who alleged high-handedness and extortion by the squad.

The NBA president, who warned security agents against attacking anti-SARS campaigners, said the association would provide legal support for protesters.

Akpata said the association had set up a platform, publicinterest@nigerianbar.org.ng, for submission of complaints by members of the public.

According to him, the FG should throw SARS’ detention centres open to prove that the squad has been truly disbanded.

He said mere pronouncements of the disbandment of SARS would not put an end to protests against police brutality.

“What is key now is sincerity,” Akpata said while answering a question on what the government needed to do to end the protests.

He added, “First and foremost, the issue to address is that the issue of detention centres of SARS around the country where people are detained for alleged offences. They should be addressed.

“As a mark of good faith, and good disclosure, it will be important for the police to throw open these centres just to convince us that not only has SARS been disbanded,  but also  that indeed its activities have been brought to an end.”

Akpata also said the public must see that culpable SARS operatives were either disciplined or prosecuted depending on the degrees of allegations established against them.

NBA lists Abuja human abattoir, Lagos, P’Harcourt,  others as  SARS’ infamous  detention centres

He identified the most notorious SARS detention centres in the country to include “the infamous ‘human abattoir’ in Abuja”, the one in Awkuzu, Anambra State and the others in  Lagos,  and Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

The NBA president,  who categorised the group’s demands into short, mid and long terms,  called for “an immediate audit of the detainees” in the notorious centres “and other facilities”, as part of its mid-term demands.

He also demanded “an expedited audit of the various SARS detention centres across the country.”

As part of its short -term demands, Akpata said the right of the citizens to protest “is inalienable and fundamental right that is not only recognised by the Nigerian constitution,  but has also been consistently upheld by  Nigerian courts at all levels”.

Aside condemning any ban on protests, the NBA president called on “governments at all levels to protect the rights of all citizens participating in the peaceful protests across the country.”

SWAT replaces SARS

Also on Tuesday, the IGP, Adamu, explained why SWAT was set up to replace SARS.

A statement by the Force spokesman, DCP Frank Mba, in Abuja stated that the prospective members of the new team would undergo tactical training next week.

It said they would undergo a psychological and medical examination to ascertain their fitness and eligibility for the new assignment.

It disclosed that the personnel from police commands in the South-East and the South-South would be trained at the Counter-Terrorism College, Nonwa-Tai, Rivers State.

Those from the police commands in the North and the South-West will be trained at the Police Mobile Force Training College, Ende, Nasarawa State and the Police Mobile Force Training College, Ila-Orangun, Osun State, respectively.

The statement was titled, ‘IGP orders all defunct SARS personnel to report at the force headquarters for psychological and medical examination.’

It also disclosed that the IG had ordered all personnel of the defunct SARS to report at the Force Headquarters, Abuja, for debriefing, psychological and medical examination.

The statement read, “The Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, today, 13th October 2020, in accordance with section 18 (10) of the Police Act 2020, ordered all personnel of the defunct SARS to report at the Force Headquarters, Abuja for debriefing, psychological and medical examination.

“The officers are expected to undergo this process as a prelude to further training and reorientation before being redeployed into mainstream policing duties.”

Commenting on the setting of SWAT, two leading anti-SARS protesters, Aisha Yesuf and Deji Adeyanju, in separate interviews with The PUNCH, called for a commission of inquiry into the extrajudicial killings, illegal detentions and other unlawful activities by the disbanded SARS.

IG meets govs today

On his part, the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu,  said the IGP would meet with governors on Wednesday (today).

Sanwo-Olu stated this in an interview with State House correspondents in Abuja on Tuesday after meeting with the President, adding that he had earlier met with the IGP.

“Part of the takeaway for me is that all the governors are on the same page. We are having a governors forum meeting tomorrow. The IG will be briefing us at that meeting and further clear directives and decisions will be taken by all the governors,” he added.

Sanwo-Olu said he had presented protesting youths’ letter to Buhari. As proofs of government’s commitment, Sanwo-Olu said all protesters arrested on Monday have been released.

On its part, the Presidency said the Presidential Panel on the Reform of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad had approved the demands of   #EndSARS protesters.

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, disclosed this in a statement titled,  ‘Presidential panel on police reforms swings into action, okays five-point demands of protesters.’

Adesina said following directives by the President on the dissolution of SARS, the IGP convened a meeting with stakeholders, agreeing to meet the demands.

According to the presidential spokesman, the meeting, organised by the Office of the IGP and the National Human Rights Commission, was a multi-stakeholders’ forum attended by leaders and representatives of civil society organisations, activists from the entertainment industry and the EndSARS movement and development partners.

He quoted a communiqué of the meeting signed by the Inspector General of Police and Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission, Tony Ojukwu, as, “Following the public protests regarding various forms of human rights violations by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad and the consequent disbandment of the unit by the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, there arose the need for stakeholder engagement to build trust and restore public confidence in law enforcement.

Presidential committee  approves setting up of panel within one week  to probe SARS’ human rights abuses

According to the presidential aide, the forum approved the proposal to set up an independent investigation panel to look into the violations of human rights by the  SARS and other segments of the police.

“The forum agrees to the setting up of this independent panel by the National Human Rights Commission within the next one week;  an open call for memoranda from members of the public whose rights have been violated by the defunct SARS and other segments of the police will be released by the Commission within one week,”   he added.

In the National Assembly, a bill seeking amendments to the NHRC  Act passed first reading in the Senate on Tuesday.

The proposed legislation, titled, “National Human Right Commission Act CAP N46 LFN 2004(Amendment) Bill,2020”, was sponsored by Senator Solomon Adeola.

The bills seeks to curb the rampant  extra-judicial killings by amending the NHRC Act, CAP N46, Law of the Federation of Nigeria,2004.

Meanwhile, the Senate also observed a one-minute silence for Jimoh Isiaka and other youths who were killed during #EndSARS protests.

This was sequel to a motion by Senator Abdulfatai Buhari, who drew the attention of the Senate to the ongoing protests by the youth.

He particularly regretted the protest in Ogbomoso which degenerated into a confrontation between the security operatives and the youth. Isiaka was killed recently in Ogbomoso,  Oyo State when protesters and the police clashed.

Lagos to set up panel of enquiry

In  Lagos State, Governor  Sanwo-Olu said he would set up a panel of enquiry that would comprise youth leaders appointed by #EndSARS protesters, members of the public, government officials and security agencies to look into allegations of human rights abuses levelled against SARS operatives in the state.

According to a statement titled,  ‘Sanwo-Olu moves to get justice for victims of SARS brutality, sets up panel,” by his Chief Press Secretary, Gboyega Akosile,   the governor said the panel would bring indicted police officers to book and get justice for victims killed and maimed by operatives.

The governor disclosed this while addressing anti-SARS protesters at the State House, Ikeja.

In a related development,  an  artiste, David Adeleke, aka Davido, on Tuesday met with the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.

According to a statement by the Speaker’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Lanre Lasisi, titled ‘Gbajabiamila assures of key reforms in Nigeria Police,’  Davido demanded the release of all detained protesters.

Also, the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr Sunday Dare, has written the IGP,  demanding the release #EndSARS protesters in different parts of the country.

In the letter, the minister described the disbanding of SARS as the right step following the nationwide outcry of high-handedness, human rights violation and harassment of the youth and other Nigerians by some of the officers of SARS.

The Kogi State Governor Alhaji Yahaya Bello, at a press conference in Lokoja on Tuesday,   urged protesting youths to trust  Buhari, adding that the President would carry out police reforms he promised.

But the Christian Association of Nigeria demanded an administrative or judicial investigation into the activities of SARS with a view to bringing the culprits to book.

The organisation in a statement by its President, Dr Samson Ayokunle,  commended Buhari and the IGP for being sensitive and responsive to the clarion call for the disbanding of SARS.

Makinde visits Ogbomoso, gives Soun N100m, victims N1m each

The Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde, visited the families of slain victims of #EndSARS protest in Ogbomoso on Tuesday.

The governor also inspected the palace of Soun of Ogbomoso, Oba Oladunni Oyewumi, following the attack on the palace during #EndSARS protest on Sunday.

The Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Taiwo Adisa, said this in a statement on Tuesday.

Makinde said the sustained protest in many parts of the country was a wake up call to leaders to address the problems facing the people especially the youths.

The governor approved an immediate release of N100m to the Soun of Ogbomoso for the renovation of the palace.

He also gave N1m each to the families of the deceased and made a commitment to the families to work with them to know the areas the government could be of help to them in order to cushion the effects of the losses of their loved ones.

 

Oshiomhole pleads for out-of-court settlement in Ortom’s N10bn suit [PUNCH]

A former National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Adams Oshiomole, on Tuesday, sought for an out-of-court settlement in the N10bn libel suit instituted against him by Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom.

Ortom had filed the suit against the former APC chairman over his comments against him at a press conference on July 27, 2018, where Oshiomhole accused the governor of having a hand in the death of two Catholic priests and other parishioners at Mbalom Community, Gwer East Local Government Area on the grounds that one of the priests had preached a “very critical sermon” against him (the governor).

Earlier on the suit,  Oshiomhole had filed six preliminary objections which the court resolved all in Ortom’s favour.

However, at the resumption of the case on Tuesday, counsel for Ortom, Samuel Irabor, submitted that he was ready to call his witnesses, but said that Oshiomhole’s counsel, Festus Jumbo had informed him that they have considered putting up a retraction of the publication and it would be ready within a week.

He said he was applying for another date to take a look at the terms of settlement canvassed by Oshiomhole.

Titus Akhuwa who held the brief of Oshiomhole’s counsel, Festus Jumbo confirmed the submission of Governor Ortom’s lawyer.

The Presiding judge, Justice Augustine Ityonyiman of State  High Court sitting in Makurdi, after listening to both parties, adjourned the case to October 29, for a report on the out-of-court settlement.

 

ASUU strike: Ngige foresees end, team meets Senate on UTAS [PUNCH]

A delegation of the Federal Government led by the Minister of Labour, Employment and Productivity, Dr Chris Ngige, met behind closed doors with the leadership of the Senate on Tuesday to appraise the University Transparency Account Systems payment platform developed by the Academic Staff Union of Universities.

The meeting, chaired by the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, also had in attendance, the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, the  Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris and the ASUU leadership led by the President,  Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi.

Ngige had before the commencement of the meeting, said the parley was at the instance of the Senate President, as part of efforts to resolve the lingering crisis between the Federal Government and ASUU.

Addressing journalists after about a three-hour closed session on the issue on Tuesday, Ngige said,  “ASUU has demonstrated to us,  how the UTAS they developed could work but the demonstration will continue.

“We will involve other government agencies who would also come and assess it. Discussions on it are not foreclosed yet.

“UTAS is homegrown software. It is what we call local content that Mr President is encouraging.  It will be considered by the government,” Ngige added.

ASUU had rejected the IPPIS as it embarked on indefinite strike on February.

The Senate President,  Ahmad Lawan, told the meeting that the current impasse between ASUU and the Federal Government was an ill-wind that would not do any of the two parties any good.

The Senate President asked the two parties to find a middle ground to resolve their differences.

“It has to be a win-win situation,” Lawan said.

Tuesday’s meeting with the Federal Government delegation was after a similar dialogue with ASUU by the Senate leadership on Monday.

 

Protesters adamant despite govt’s approval of requests [THE NATION]

EndSARS protesters are yet to back down despite the government’s overtures.

Inspector-General of Police Mohammed Adamu announced on Tuesday the decision of the government to accede to all requests made by the protesters.

He also announced measures to reform the police system, including summoning operatives of the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) to Abuja and the creation of the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team to take over the duties of SARS.

The protesters rejected the creation of SWAT and announced that the protests, which spread to Kaduna, Enugu and Warri, among other cities, will continue today.

They took to their Facebook accounts and twitter pages to register their displeasure about the SWAT squad.

To them, creating SWAT is like renaming SARS.

In the reactions posted on the social media, they announced various protests points and locations today.

On twitter, they launched a hashtag against SWAT. This started trending on the microblogging site last night. There were over 55,400 tweets rejecting the new anti-robbery unit as at 10pm on Tuesday.

Many argued that SWAT was like giving SARS operatives new uniforms to wear.

Hip hop artiste and Ruggedman @RuggeddyBaba said: “We thank God for that and wait to see implementation.”

J.J. Omojuwa @omojuwa posted: “This is a great start. We need quick arrests of the officers that shot and killed citizens. And we need to advance #PoliceReforms immediately.

“After all the protests, it’s time to hold government to their commitments on #PoliceReforms

“It’s time to now focus on a post-protest plan. After all the agitations and efforts over the last few days, it’d be sad to lose on the implementation front. That’s where the crux of the matter becomes policy. We need to be strategic #PoliceReforms.”

Segun Awosanya @Segalink said: “Let me tell you this for free. The Govt bent over backwards and approved all the demands including the #5for5. The President even gave the Presidential order as demanded. As we speak they are constituting an independent panel to investigate these crimes in the next five days.

“It was a long one but the demand for the immediate release of all that may have been arrested and some even charged with murder should be released unconditionally. The IGP and the panel agreed to all the terms as presented and will show this in their action.

“Progress is being made regardless and actions will speak louder. All the officers that shot at peaceful protesters will be prosecuted and you will see the outcome transparently. This affects us all. Never have I imagined living in a country where these kind of things happen.

“While the meeting was going on, we received live updates on ground and the meeting was interrupted with orders given for immediate report on what actually transpired in SURULERE. @koredebello demanded that the IGP order the police officers to stand down & stop shooting at people.

“The attempt to hijack the #EndSARS #ReformPoliceNG Movement by known elements who were against it from day one, and had to be a part now for fame & earnings is not surprising. They felt they can demonize me & take ownership by force. But they’ll fail again as always.”

Inspector-General of Police Adamu announced the decision after meeting with National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) leaders, representatives of civil society organisations, activists from the entertainment industry, the ENDSARS movement and the development partners.

The five-point demand, which the government approved are:

.               Immediate release of all arrested protesters

.               Justice for all deceased victims of police brutality and appropriate compensation for their families

.               Setting up of an independent body to oversee the investigation and prosecution of all reports of police misconduct (within 10 days)

.               In line with the new police act, psychological evaluation and retraining (to be confirmed by an independent body) of all disbanded SARS operatives before redeployment

.               Higher police salary so that they are adequately compensated for protecting lives and property of citizens.

The Ministry of Police Affairs and the Police Service Commission (PSC) were also present at the meeting.

A communiqué of the Stakeholders’ Meeting on the Implementation of the Recommendations of the Presidential Panel on the Reform of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) said:

“Following the public protests regarding various forms of human rights violations by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and the consequent disbandment of the unit by the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, there arose the need for stakeholder engagement to build trust and restore public confidence in law enforcement.

“The agitations also brought to the fore, the need to implement the recommendations of the Presidential Panel on the Reform of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

“The Forum was addressed by the Inspector General of Police and the Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission.

“The Forum collectively welcomed the dissolution of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) by the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu; Reaffirmed the constitutional rights of Nigerians to peaceful assembly and protest; Further affirmed the sanctity of life of every Nigerian and the role of the Police in protecting this right; Affirms the five-point demands of the protesters and the ENDSARS movement are genuine concerns and will be addressed by the Government.’’

According to the communiqué signed by the Inspector General of Police and Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission Tony Ojukwu, Esq, the Forum noted that the dissolution of SARS presents an opportunity to embark on comprehensive reforms aimed at repositioning the Nigerian Police Force as a modern, responsive and citizens-centred law enforcement organisation.

“The Forum further notes that the proposed reforms should be anchored on the basis of the White Paper on the Report of the Presidential Panel on the Reform of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad which was jointly authored by the National Human Rights Commission, the Federal Ministry of Justice, and the Nigeria Police Force.

“The Forum affirms that reform proposals for the Nigerian Police Force will be based on Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and existing legislations such as the Nigeria Police Act, 2020, the Nigeria Police Trust Fund Act, 2019, the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 the Anti-Torture Act, 2017, and the National Human Rights Commission Act, 2010 amongst others.

“Following the dissolution of SARS, the Forum calls for the following immediate steps to be taken in restoring public confidence and trust in the Police: An order by the Inspector General of Police to all State Commands to halt the use of force against protesters; Unconditional release of arrested protesters and citizens; Open communication and outreach to citizens to establish trust and confidence and a roadmap for the implementation of the White Paper of the Presidential Panel on the Reform of the SARS.

 

Bedridden boy, 10, needs surgery to stand, walk again [THE NATION]

MRS Ebele Odofin is a newspaper vendor in Awka, the Anambra State capital with over 20 years of experience. Her son, Prince Ayo Daniel Odofin has been bedridden for three years following an ailment earlier suspected to be partial stroke.

A mother of three from Akwa village Ifitedunu in Dunukofia Local Government Area of Anambra state but married from Ogun state, Odofin has suffered untold hardship taken care of the 10-year old son.

Odofin, who said he had committed thousands of naira towards finding lasting solution to the protracted illness, said she needed N750,000 for a special surgery for her son to bounce back to life.

“It all started in January 2018. We thought it was a minor thing because it started as if he had a partial stroke after he woke up one morning.

“But what baffled us was that getting to the night of that day, he could not urinate nor defecate. The next thing we did was to rush him to the hospital thinking it was an infection.

“When we got there, they conducted all manner of tests and told us that nothing was wrong with him. Though they referred us to another hospital, but we had to bring him back to the east because the case started in Lagos, thinking it would be better.

“When we came to Anambra, we took him to a bone stretcher who told us he had a disjoint at the waist, but not knowing that was not the problem. The moment the woman touched him, he stopped working till date.

“We were again referred to a neurological hospital in Enugu. We later went for MLR test which read that he had a tummor behind the chest, which they said was what surgery can handle at the cost of N5m.

“Since I don’t have that kind of money, I had to bring my son back home. Since then, we’ve been carrying him from one place to another, thinking there will be solution, but all to no avail.

“Just last September, I came across a woman whose daughter had a similar issue, and she referred us to the doctor that treated her own daughter.

“He promised to handle it, but gave us a bill of N750,000, including the drugs and other materials. But he demanded a deposit of 75percent of the bill before he could commence treatment,” she said.

The woman added: “My husband stays in Lagos, but has nothing serious doing. He lost his job in the course of running around for this same ailment. Since then, he’s been searching for another job to earn a living. But none has come.

“Most times when I call to request for money, sometimes he’ll cry. But you know crying does not solve problem, including the one at hand.

“If I tell you that I’ve not given up, I’m just telling you a lie. Sometimes, I’ll sit down and keep crying.  I’ll lock myself up because this has really tied me down. I can no longer move out, and do the business that can fetch money for the family because you can’t leave only him and his siblings alone at home. I’m a mother of three kids, taking care of them plus the situation at hand has really been devastating.

“It’s so bad that friends and family members have deserted me, they no longer ask after me unlike before, you see them coming around to ask. Nobody cares, no calls, except my younger brother who used to come and assist me. Being a pastor, most times he makes out time from his tight schedule to come around.”

 

JAMB shuts down seven exam centres in Bayelsa [THE NATION]

THE Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) has shut seven examination centres across Bayelsa State for allegedly violating its rules and regulations.

It was learnt that the shutting of the centres leaves the state with only four centres to cater for about 24,000 candidates.

The State Coordinator of JAMB, Abdusalam Mohammed, spoke during a visit to the leadership of the state chapter of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) at the Ernest Sese Ikoli Press Centre in Yenagoa, the state capital.

Mohammed explained that some of the examination centres were delisted for alleged duplication of the Virtual Private Network (VPN) of their routers.

He said: “Initially, Bayelsa State had 11 examination centres. So far, seven of this number have been delisted from our platform for various infractions. The owners of some of these centres tampered with the VPN of our router. And that is a very big offence.

“They duplicated the VPN by moving the router from one location to another location where they did whatever they liked. This is a very big offence. Others were delisted for overcharging candidates.

“During registration, we sent out a monitoring team and they came back with the report that candidates were charged N5,000 for a service that should ordinarily cost N2,500.”

Mohammed also gave insight into the level of preparedness of the board to conduct examinations amid fear of COVID-19 spread.

He said: “Even before the lockdown was lifted, we had started training our workers on how to attend to candidates. We have also embarked on sensitisation of candidates and provided personal prevention equipment.

“In order to reduce the crowd at our office during registration, we have introduced what we call ‘appointment for candidates’. This means that candidates can only come to us when they have an appointment. The intention is to reduce body contact between workers and candidates.

 

After SARS, more agitations for police reforms [THE NATION]

WHEN Ndubuisi Dele Udoh, a Nigerian-American athlete, died in the 1980s, Nigerians didn’t cry the way they did because the cold hand of death had felled a prominent Nigerian. They cried profusely because of the way he died. Dele Udoh was shot dead by a policeman.

Early in the 1980s when he visited Nigeria, a policeman shot him dead over a mild altercation. That was the first time Nigerians heard about “accidental discharge” as put up by his superior as to what caused Udoh’s death. When the trigger-happy police officer shot the victim dead, many thought it was an aberration. It was no coincidence either. It was definitely premeditated murder.

The list of extra-judicial killings is endless and the Nigeria Police Force is now looked upon as harbingers of sorrow.

In the circumstances, Nigerians have endured what they termed police brutality. For too long, they have suffered from an arm of the Nigeria Police Force is known as the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) which was under the Force Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (FCIID).

A Lagos-based lawyer, Chief Babajide Tanimoowo recalled how his client was embarrassed when he was arrested in Ibadan, Oyo State in July by some police officers.

He said the police operatives wrongfully tagged his client, Ojo Olumide Stephen, a kidnapper even though the young man was accused of involvement in a fraud case in the organisation where he was working. The police officers also recorded the incident and released the video on social media.

The incident, it was learnt, involved Ojo and a lady called Towobola. The man, who was involved in a fraud case, was arrested in Ibadan alongside the lady on July 19.

He said in the Nigerian legal system, every accused person is presumed innocent until such a person is proven guilty in the court of law. He insisted that police officers had no right to declare anyone they arrested guilty of any offence.

“This is equally enshrined in Section 36 (5) of 1999 Constitution of Nigeria as amended and other fundamental rights which every accused person is entitled to. This right should not be the subject of ridicule or abuse by personnel of our security agencies and people who assist police in the discharge of their lawful duties,” Mr. Tanimoowo said.

In the video, the lady said she was just meeting the man and denied any amorous relationship with the suspect. But the said Wyclef, described as a police informant, accused the lady of sleeping with the man for money, intimidating her and threatening to slap her.

“If I want to date you now, would you agree? You were sleeping with him because of money. Look up! Show your face to the world,” Wyclef shouted at the lady in the video.

Many Nigerians condemned the action of the police officers, noting that they shot the video all in a bid to further shame and embarrass the accused man and his innocent female acquaintance.

It was gathered that when Inspector-General of Police Mr Mohammed Adamu saw the video, he ordered an immediate investigation into the matter. Subsequently, the said Wyclef was pronounced culpable. He was thereafter arrested and subsequently arraigned at the Yaba Magistrate’s Court in Lagos.

Tanimoowo, praised the IG for coming to the aid of his client, regretting that the video did substantial damage to his client and his female acquaintance.

Amnesty International’s 2016 Report noted that “SARS is responsible for human abuse, cruelty, degrading treatment of Nigerians in their custody, and other widespread torture. Some of the human right abuses by SARS include the shooting of their detainees in the leg, mock or threats of execution, hanging and severe beating.”

On Sunday, October 11, Adamu announced the disbandment of SARS. A statement by the Force spokesperson, Frank Mba, a Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), said the unit had been dissolved in the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

The scrapping of SARS was seen as immense relief for the majority of Nigerians who commended Mr Adamu for aligning with the vast majority of the people as against support for the unit that had been accused of inflicting pains on innocent Nigerians.

For days, Nigerian youths took to the streets in several parts of the country, demanding an immediate end to the illegal activities of SARS.

Using the hashtag #ENDSARS, aggrieved youths marched on streets of Lagos, Abuja, Ibadan, Onitsha and several other cities. They called for an end to police brutality and justice for innocent people killed by SARS operatives.

Since the SARS dissolution, some ordinary Nigerians have commended the leadership of the police, especially the Inspector-General Adamu for acquiescing to the demands of the people. They urged Mr Adamu to ensure that officers who were indicted in the killing of innocent Nigerians are prosecuted.

 

 

 

 

 

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