[ Masterweb Reports: Emma Elekwa reports ] - The Operation Python Dance inaugurated by the Nigerian Army in the South East geopolitical zone has ended with no record of armed robbery, kidnapping, cultism and other associated violence, the Nigerian Army has stated. The operation launched to span from 27th November to December 27, 2016, in the region was targeted at curbing crime in the area during the yuletide.
Speaking with our correspondent on the telephone, the Deputy Director, Public Relations, 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, Colonel Sagir Musa, said the operation also contained inter communal, herders-farmers clashes during the period.
“These menaces are and have been the focus and targets of this exercise and have so far been effectively achieved,” Musa stated.
He added that although “the exercise will end on the 27 December 2016 as earlier indicated, troops will still be massively around in the whole of South East to continue with patrols, road blocks and check points.”
He said that the General Officer Commanding 82 Division, Major General Adamu Abubakar, on Sunday, visited Awka, Agulu, Nnobi, Ihiala and Okija communities in Anambra State to assess the conduct of troops on the exercise, adding that the GOC was also at the Niger Bridge to assess the state of security and vehicular movements.
His words: “It would be recalled that traffic gridlock has for many years, especially during the yuletide been endemic on the Niger Bridge in both Asaba and Onitsha axis inflicting suffering and other inconveniences to the road users. Hence, parts of the targets for the exercise is to checkmate the usual gridlock, chaos and insecurity at the Bridge.This objective has so far been achieved. Since the start of Exercise Python Dance, there has not been cases of gridlock and associated insecurity on the Asaba - Onitsha Bridge. The orderliness, the disposition of combined security personnel and the manner the general public conduct themselves especially the road users is commendable.”
He urged the public to remain security conscious and report any suspicious movements and persons to security agencies close to them.
*Photo Caption - Nigeria Army banner
[ Masterweb Reports: Richard Ngbokai reports ] - The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai has charged troops in the North East to pursue the fleeing Boko Haram terrorists and intercept them. Buratai gave the charge in a remark shortly before Gov. Kashim Shettima of Borno cut the tape to re-open two major roads in the state that were closed since 2013 at the height of the activities of the insurgents.
The roads are Maiduguri-Gubio-Damasak and Maiduguri-Monguno-Baga.
“You must maintain the momentum of the operation. We must pursue the terrorists wherever they are. We must not allow them to regroup,” the army chief said.
According to Buratai, one of them, who fled to Lagos, was arrested on Saturday in Ikorodu area of the state.
He said in spite of the take over of the terrorists’ last strong hold in the Sambisa forest as announced by President Muhammadu Buhari, “we have no time to waste”.
The chief of army staff described the seven-year fight against the Boko Haram terrorists as “quite sober and touchy”, saying that a number of officers and soldiers had lost their lives in the war.
He prayed for the repose of their souls and vowed that the army would recommit itself to the fight until “remnants’’ of the terrorists were cleared.
Maj.-Gen. Lucky Irabor, the Theatre Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, had earlier said that the North East had been secured.
He also said that insurgency had brought untold hardship on the people of Borno people and the entire North East zone.
Irabor said that the roads being reopened were closed three years ago to check the incursion of the insurgents, adding that the reopening of such roads was an indication that the terrorists had been defeated.
In a message, the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin, also charged the military to maintain the tempo of operation and ensure that terrorism was eliminated from the North East.
Represented by the Chief of Administration, Defenc Headquarters, Rear Admiral A. A. Dacosta, Olonisakin restated the commitment of the military to defeating the terrorists.
*Photo Caption - Nigeria Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai
[ Masterweb Reports: Press Release For Immediate Release ] - IDPs need your help. It's winter in Borno. Our displaced brothers and sisters are dying of cold. Hungry and lean, they do not have much body fat to protect them even if they had enough clothes; and the combination is sadly delivering more death.
It is that time of the year again when we do our blanket and sweater drives.
Kind hearted fellow Nigerians and friends of Nigeria abroad, please contact any of our donation agents with your used blankets and sweaters: http://ends.ng/idpclothesdrive-global-collection-agents/
Thank you for your continuous support and kindness. The IDPs pray for you and will never forget you.
Dr. Peregrino Brimah
ENDS ( www.ends.ng )
*Photo Caption - An IDP child
[ Masterweb Reports: Dr. C. K. Ekeke & O. M. Hendricks, Jr., PhD.
report ] - “In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child” (Luke2:1, 4-5).
On December 25, about two billion people on Earth will celebrate Christmas, which is historically and traditionally a day set apart by Christians to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, a birth story that occurred over two-thousand years ago but continues to be the greatest and most solemn, mysterious, and fascinating event of all time.
However, the birth of Jesus—this child, this Son, this wonderful Counselor, mighty God, everlasting Father, and Prince of peace according to prophet Isaiah did not occur in a peaceful and loving environment but occurred during the most distressful social, economic and horrific political crises of that time.
Let us look at the social unrest and political tensions in which Jesus Christ was born.
The decree and political condition during Jesus birth
Although theologians disagree on the actual birth date of Jesus, the fact remains that Jesus was a historical figure, who was born during the most tumultuous and turbulent period of that time. Dr. Luke, though a physician by profession was a great writer and historian, who gave more details than the other gospel writers. He recorded that Jesus’ birth occurred during the reign of Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus.
Caesar Augustus has just been made the official ruler of the Roman Empire in 27 B.C. and he ruled until A.D. 14. In the period during the birth of Jesus, Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken in all the Roman Empire. Luke 2:2 recorded that, this was the census that took place before Quirinius was Roman governor of Syria. He reigned in A.D. 6-7. The Gospel writer, Mathew also records that Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea during the time of Herod the Great. Herod was a Jewish king and Rome’s puppet in the region, who reigned in Jerusalem until 4. B.C. So, Jesus was probably born in the opening decade of the first century.
And so everyone went to their own town to register for the census. Joseph—Jesus surrogate father went to Bethlehem, his ancestral hometown to register for the census. He went with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were at Bethlehem, Mary gave birth to her firstborn, a son. The child was born in a manger, a place where animals were kept because Joseph and Mary did not find a room in the Inn to lodge in order for Mary to give birth. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:1-7).
Historians have recorded that the innkeeper may have noticed that Joseph and Mary were from Galilee and so refused them accommodation because Galileans were despised and loathed. Galilee was a troubled city. They were known for their militancy and freedom fighting against Roman occupation. There has been several uprisings in the Galilee and surrounding communities and it took Rome’s military power to calm the revolt and bring order to the region. According to the historian Josephus, about two-thousand Galileans were crucified as a result, as crucifixion was the official form of lynching reserved for political dissenters. It has been estimated that Roman Emperor Augustus kept up to one-hundred thousand legionnaires battle-ready at all times. Therefore, this may have been the reason the Innkeeper did not rent a room to Joseph and Mary.
And so, this was the environment in which Jesus was born. It was a world under the brutal domination of Rome. It was a period of horrific political oppression of conquered territories, of moral crisis, social unrest and disorder, economic exploitation, heavy taxation of the poor, extreme poverty, disease, injustice and harsh repression of dissidents fighting for liberation and freedom from Rome. It was in that turmoil and tumultuous time that Jesus was born, which prepared him to become a spiritual leader and political activist.
Jesus formative years as political activist and religious leader
More than any other factor, it was the Roman colonial occupation of Israel that created the setting for the formative years of Jesus and a moral leader and activism. The suffering that the Romans visited on the Jewish people was so pervasive and so brutal that its influence on the political consciousness and social witness of Jesus was inescapable. For this reason it must not be forgotten that even while he is worshipped as the Son of God, until his last earthly breath Jesus was also an oppressed Roman colonial subject with all that meant.
The biblical tradition to which Jesus was heir is marked at every step by political issues: justice and injustice, domination and resistance, oppression and liberation. Indeed, the Exodus, the root event of biblical faith, was a liberation event that made the profound and lasting statement that the God of Israel is a champion of justice—that in conflicts between oppressed and oppressor. That is the basis of misphat, the biblical concept of justice: that oppression and exploitation have no rightful place in God’s plan for humanity. For that reason an important aspect of loving our neighbor as ourselves is struggling for the freedom of all.
Fueled by their faith in God’s liberating love, throughout the millennia of biblical Israel’s existence many men and women lived and died questioning justice. Their efforts and their devotion to misphat are shrined in biblical narratives spanning every stage of Israel’s development. Century after century they held fast to malkuth shamayim, their unquestioned conviction that only God has the right to rule, even as their enemies defeated them, exploited them, starved them, broke them in body and in spirit and crushed them beneath the heavy heel of oppression.
It was into this landscape of hunger and poverty, turmoil and tumult that Jesus of Nazareth was born. Unfortunately, the hard truth of his setting in life has been softened by those who either misunderstand the realities of his origins or have sought to mask them for fear that the truth might somehow weaken their own political or ecclesiastical control. In such perennial Christmas favorites as “It Came upon a Midnight Clear” and ‘Silent Night,” Jesus is portrayed as warmly ensconced in an uncomplicated setting of total and lasting “peace;”
Silent night, holy night!
All is calm, all is bright….
Sleep in heavenly peace.
Sleep in heavenly peace.
The truth is that the harsh social, economic, and political factors of Jesus’ life as a colonial subject of the Roman Empire helped to shape the holistic spirituality that under-guided his earthly message and ministry. In this sense, the ministry of Jesus paralleled God’s self-revelation in the Exodus event: both God and Jesus intervened in history in response to the cry for liberation of the oppressed people of Israel. And like the God of the Exodus, Jesus not only responded to a particular system of political tyranny, he also asserted the injustice of God as the basis for struggling to vanquish degrading social practices and oppressive political structures for all time to come. His repeated emphasis on the “Kingdom of God,” that is, the sole ruler-ship of the God of justice, his unrelenting focus on freedom and liberation, on the right of all to have abundance in every sphere of inner life and outer life; and his ever present concern for the poor and unprotected together constitute a platform for liberation that far exceeds in its scope even the most ambitious secular political agenda.
The arrest, trial and murder of Jesus as a religious and political dissident
The pervasive presence of the Roman colonial domination of Israel and other regions is clearly reflected in the Gospels. Luke begins his account of Jesus’s birth by citing an edict issued by the emperor Augustus that all Israelites must return to their home villages to register in a census (Luke 2:1), apparently for reasons of taxation. In the midst of the spiritual loftiness of the Beatitudes, Jesus refers to Roman courts and prisons (Matthew 5:25), as well as to innocent passerby arbitrarily forced to do the bidding of Roman soldiers – including the Jewish religious and political leaders as well as the Priests, who were mostly puppets of the Roman Empire (Matthew 5:41). Mark’s account of soldiers compelling Simon of Cyrene to carry Jesus’ cross to Calvary (Mark 15:21) is an example of this latter practice. Moreover, the presence of the Roman military was so pervasive during Jesus’ life and ministry.
After the death of King Herod in 4 B.C, Herod’s legacy of terror and exploitation for Rome continued under three of his sons: Archelaus, Antipas and Philip – among whom his kingdom was divided. Of those three, the real heir of their father’s legacy of decadence and cruelty was Antipas, whom Rome appointed ruler over Galilee, the home Province of Jesus. It was Herod Antipas who was responsible for the beheading of John the Baptist (Mark 6:14-29) and who sought the death of Jesus as well (Luke 13:31; 23:6-12). The treachery and despotism of the herodians loomed large in the world of Jesus and touched everyone around him for the entire of his life one earth. The cruelty and tyranny reign of Herod and his son Antipas – Rome’s puppet “King of the Jews,” greatly compounded the suffering of the people of during Jesus days. Rome brutality and heavy taxation choked the economic life of Israel and their people.
The contempt with which the Romans treated the people of Israel is most evident in the Gospel’s recounting of the cruelty and contempt to which Jesus was subjugated after his arrest. Jesus was stripped naked, humiliated, and flogged. The Fourth Gospel adds that he was beaten repeatedly by his Roman captors (John 19:3). The crucifixion account in the Gospel of Mark in particular portrays Rome’s contempt and brutality toward its colonial subjects in all of its horror:
In his book: “The Murder of Jesus,” Dr. John MacArthur, the great Bible teacher and pastor of Grace Community Church, wrote
“2000 years ago, an unprecedented conspiracy of injustice, cruelty, and religious and political interests sentenced a man guilty of no crimes to the most barbaric method of execution ever devised. Worse still, the victim was no mere man. Jesus was God in the flesh. The creator of life and universe was killed, murdered and died. The very thought is nearly inconceivable. Yet, mysteriously, from the wellspring of this repugnant historical fact flow unceasing rivers of mercy.”
Depending on whom you read, most theologians agree that Christ trial involved three stages or three personalities: namely - religious, civil, and political trials. The first or religious trial was when Jesus was brought before Annas and Caiaphas, the High Priests of Sanhedrin - the Jewish Ruling Council. The High Priests questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teachings especially His messianic claims. Jesus replied, “I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in Synagogues or at the Temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret. Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.” (John 18:20-21).
When Annas and Caiaphas could not reason with him, they sent him to King Herod. The people blinded folded Jesus, mocked him repeatedly, spat on and struck Jesus in the face as he was taken to King Herod. This was Jesus civil and second trial. King Herod had earlier beheaded John the Baptist - Jesus' cousin. Because Herod's heart was so hardened, Jesus refused to speak to him. In anger, Herod and his men mocked Jesus' claim to be the king of the Jews and sent him to Pilate, the Roman governor in Jerusalem.
Jesus was then brought to Pilate, the Roman governor in Jerusalem to be interrogated. (Matthew. 27:1-26). This was Jesus political and third trial. Jesus was brought to him because under Roman law, the Jews could not legally carry out the death penalty. The people asked for the release of Barabbas, who was a thief and who had caused all kinds of rebellion and insurrection in Jerusalem to be released and Jesus, who did not do any thing whatever to be crucified. Jesus was released to the people again and they flogged him, scourged and handed over to the Roman soldiers to be crucified.
It is important that we understand the position of Herod and Pilate in relation to the person of Jesus. It was already established how Herod's and Pilate's political alliance undermined the arrest, trial, sentencing and crucifixion of Jesus. When Jesus stood before Pilate, he weighed both religious and political consequences and effects of his decision concerning Jesus' case would have on him personally, and on his career.
Religiously, Pilate was afraid that Jesus was whom he proclaimed to be a genuinely divine messenger, the Messiah, the Son of God, and not just a deluded street philosopher who thought himself to be God. The portrait of Jesus as Messiah, a deliverer, a true leader of the people was not easy for the Jewish religious and political elitists to understand and accept. The Scribes and Pharisees considered Jesus a heretic because he claimed to be the “Messiah.” Jesus did not meet the expectations of the hypocritical Pharisees and Sadducees.
Politically, Pilate's sponsor in Rome, Sejanus, had fallen from power, and Pilate was afraid of Tiberius, the Emperor, who was paranoid of any sound of treason. Pilate's investigation in Jesus' case yielded not a guilty verdict, and under normal circumstances, Jesus was to be reprimanded and set free. Pilate was afraid that he could be beheaded by Emperor Tiberius, if he set Jesus, who was accused of insurrection free. When Pilate heard that Jesus was from Galilee, he jumped for the opportunity to free himself of the innocent man's blood. He therefore washed his hands, not for hygiene purposes, but to declare himself cleared of the innocent man's blood. Pilate then sent Jesus back to King Herod Antipas.
Pilate became the symbol of those who made religious decisions based on political expediency rather than truth and justice. Pilate success in his career depended on what he did with Jesus' case. For the high Priests, whose political and spiritual positions were for life, were all interested in the conviction of Jesus. All the way from Rome down to Bethlehem, from Emperor Tiberius to Herod Antipas, they were all paranoid of their positions would be overthrown. Pilate and Herod formed a political alliance over the life of Jesus.
In today’s watered-down Christianity and prosperity gospel, the picture of the non-political Jesus who never challenged the horrors of Roman Empire is the legacy of Roman Emperor Constantine, who officially transformed the faith founded upon the teachings of Jesus from the radical faith of the oppressed to the official religion of the oppressor.
The majesty and incomparable personality of Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ is an incomparable personality in all of human history. Among all the world’s religious leaders, Jesus Christ is incomparable. He is a controversial figure and the most misunderstood moral and spiritual leaders of all time. His birth, his life, his ministry, his death, his resurrection and his ascension to heaven makes him such a mysterious and majestic leader among all moral and religious leaders that have come and gone.
Again, Bible teacher and Pastor, Dr. John MacArthur, in his book: Truth for Today, surmised the majesty and grandeur of Jesus Christ when he wrote,
“Jesus stands incomparable amongst the world's greatest religious, philosophical and moral leaders. Socrates taught forty years, Plato fifty, Aristotle forty but Jesus' public ministry lasted less than three years, yet the influence of his life far outweighs the combined 130 years of the three greatest philosophers of all antiquity. Jesus never painted a picture, yet some of the finest paintings of Raphael, Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, and many other artists found in him their inspiration. Jesus did not write any poetry, but Dante, Milton and other world's greatest poets were inspired by the teachings of Jesus Christ. Jesus did not write any music, yet Hayden, Handel, Beethoven, Bach, Mendelssohn, and myriad of others reached the highest perfection of melody in compositions about him.”
Jesus did not officially write any book, yet millions of books have been written about his life and teachings.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the beloved moral teacher and civil rights icon was inspired by the principles of the teachings of Jesus that guided him with the tangible presence of the Holy Spirit; he challenged White America to free his people from the bondage of slavery, oppression and shackles of injustice. His powerful oratory and wise leadership freed an entire nation from hate, bigotry and self-destruction and gave millions freedom and hope around the world.
Abraham Lincoln – the most admired American president and Father of the nation, Nelson Mandela – anti-apartheid activist and international icon of freedom, Mother Teresa – the cherished Catholic mother and global advocate for love and compassion for the poor, Watchman Nee, Mahatma Gandhi, Marcus Garvey, and many other transformational global religious and political leaders – transformed and changed the world with the word, teachings and compassion of Jesus Christ.
Demosthenes, the illustrious Greek orator was surpassed in eloquence by Jesus, for it is written, “No one ever spoke the way this man does” (John 7:46). The emperors of Rome established a mighty empire, but Jesus builds a greater one: “of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end” (Isaiah 9:7).
Modern surgeons capably do open-heart surgery, but the Great Physician gives transplant: “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you” (Ezekiel 36:26).
Ralph Waldo Emerson said that the name of Jesus "is not so much written as ploughed into the history of this world."
The Apostle John writes, "Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written (John 21:25).
Jesus affected human society like no other. This incomparable Jesus Christ is the reason for this wonderful time of the year.
Joseph Ernest Renan, a 19th century French philosopher and historian once wrote, “Let the greatest surprises of the future come, but never has there arisen, nor never shall there arise another like Jesus Christ.”
Jesus Christ is without debate, the greatest religious leader, political strategist, social change and moral crusader of all time.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
As we celebrate Christmas this year, let us remember the reason for this wonderful season. As songwriters - Eddie Pola and George Wyle penned in 1963, "This season of the year is the most wonderful time of the year."
The birth of Jesus is the greatest event in all of human history. His birthday is always the greatest and most expensive celebration in all of human history. It is also the most gracious and loving season of the year.
However, sin is the greatest enemy of the human race and Jesus was born to free us from the slavery and guilt of sin. He was born to free mankind from the filthy of unrighteousness, shackles of injustice, economic slavery and political oppression.
As Pastors and Christian leaders, let us therefore commit ourselves to study more deeply the words and teachings of Jesus. Let us also commit do the work that Jesus did and calls each of us to do. Let us work to end injustice, oppression, slavery and bondage in our world. Let us work to usher God kind of justice (mishpat) and righteousness (sadiqah), liberty, freedom, peace and prosperity in our world.
And most importantly, as Christians, let us commit this Christmas day to pray for peace and wisdom upon our leaders and their governments so that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness (1 Tim. 2:1-2).
The Word of God teaches, "when the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked rule, the people mourn (Proverbs 29:2).
May God’s favor, joy, peace, love and goodwill be yours abundantly in this coming year! Amen.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you!
Next week: We will explore the leadership style of Jesus and some of his political activism. Stay tuned.
C. K. Ekeke, Ph.D., is a theologian, author, consultant, and leadership scholar.
Obery M. Hendricks, Jr., Ph.D., is a biblical scholar and professor of biblical interpretation at New York Theological Seminary.
*Photo Caption - As seen.
[ Masterweb Reports: Hamisu Muhammad reports ] - President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday approved additional N71.8 billion to augment shortfall in the 2016 budgetary allocation for payment of delayed workers salaries, Daily Trust gathered. This will enable the government pay thousands of workers who are owed November and December salaries.
The amount is part of the N213 billion virement assented to by Buhari yesterday, Daily Trust has learnt. Sources had initially told Daily Trust that the president had withheld assent because the National Assembly increased the budget by N33billion, but he was persuaded to sign the virement to enable some agencies pay workers salaries before Christmas.
The Minister of Finance Kemi Adeosun had explained inability of some government agencies to pay November salaries saying the shortfall is to be augmented through the virement.
She told State House reporters after cabinet meeting on Wednesday that “What we did in the virement we sent to the National Assembly, which the National Assembly approved, was that we listed all the agencies that had problems with their salaries and applied to National Assembly. We had to go back to the National Assembly to ask for an increase in the budgetary allocation of those agencies.”
The president sent the virement proposal of N180.8 billion to the National Assembly on October 26, 2016, requesting the approval for the N166.6billion for special intervention (recurrent) and N14.2 billion for special intervention (Capital Supplementation).
Several government agencies could not pay November salaries including the Federal Roads Safety Commission (FRSC). Adeosun said “All the agencies have an allocated IPPIS which is the salary platform. If for example an agency has a N12bn salary for the year, we insist they continue to pay until that N12bn is exhausted.
“Instead of taking N1bn a month, such agencies were taking N1.2bn or N1.3bn. So, by the time it got to October, many agencies had exhausted their allocations.
The approved virement provides N71.8billion for settlement of the Public Service Wage Adjustment (PSWA). Other provisions are: Contingency N1.2billion; margin for increase in cost (MIC) N2billion; cadet feeding (Police Academy, Kano) N932million and Amnesty Programme N35billion.
There is also internal operation of the Armed forces N5.2billion, Operation Lafiya Dole N13.9 billion, National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) N19.7billion, Foreign Missions N14.6billion and augmentation of meal subsidy/ direct teaching and laboratory cost N900million.
For statutory transfer, N1.2bilion was approved for the Public Complaints Commission.
In the area of capital, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) will get N12.7billion and Presidential Initiative for the North East (PINE) is to receive N1.5billion.
Daily Trust leant that there was little delay on the approval by the president due to the increment of about N33billion by the senate over his original request.
Analysis of the figure by Daily Trust shows that the National Assembly added N25billion for payment of local contractors and other liabilities as well as N5billion for the SDG Housing under the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing. The request for foreign missions was also increased by N1.74 billion from the original request.
*Photo Caption - Naira notes.
[ Masterweb Reports: Ademola Adebayo reports ] - Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has lamented the economic consequence of over-centralization of powers in Nigeria, and hence is calling for a restructuring of the current administrative system.
Atiku in a series of Twitter posts today said it is obvious that the Federal Government can no longer afford to meet its numerous obligations.
The former Vice President also debunked allegations from some questions thrown at him with respect to the lavishness of previous administrations which he was a part of saying; “I was only a VP. What I was assigned to do was economy, and we made bold changes, fixed national debt, bad assets etc.”
*Photo Caption - Atiku Abubakar
[ Masterweb Reports: Olalekan Waheed Adigun reports ] - The relations between unpredictable allies, Russia and Turkey, appear to have deteriorated in the past few years. The relationship between Moscow and Ankara has deteriorated since the Turkish Air Force F-16 fighter jet shot a Russian Su-24 bomber out of the Syrian skies, citing an airspace violation that did not take place. This is one offence Moscow sees as an act of diplomatic betrayal. In response, Russia imposed a range of restrictive measures on Turkey following the incident that has dealt a major blow to the Turkish economy. The implication of the sanctions is what some analysts have described as "unnecessary and extremely burdensome difficulties for both countries.” As though these are not enough, the Russian ambassador to the country, Mr. Andrei Karlov, was shot some days ago in an attack at an art gallery in Ankara where he was delivering a speech. He was reported dead after having received several gunshot wounds.
Like every potentially embarrassing situations like this one, the Turkish government had quickly looked for the best of excuses to explain the unfortunate situation. Whether this will make any sense to Moscow is another matter altogether. The issues involved in the relationship between both countries are more complicated that most people think!
The Turkish government is a fierce opponent of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad who Russia supports. The Syrian crisis and its effect- the Islamic State (ISIS)- became complicated with Russia’s support for the al-Assad government meaning the US needed to handle the matter with care. Syria has no oil, therefore, there is nothing in there for US to die for. The US has none of its interests immediately threatened in Syria, but this is not the case with Russia and Turkey who both have much to lose if any get a foot wrong in handling the crisis.
Both countries, Russia and Turkey, appear to have different interpretations on how best to handle the Syrian crisis based on their respective national interests. Russian authorities, probably wary of the spread of terrorism and radicalization among its domestic Muslim minorities, saw the need to support al-Assad’s regime thereby classifying the opponents of the regime as “terrorists”. On the other hand, the Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s regime may just want to strengthen its hold onto power in Ankara and the same time prevent the further rise of Kurdisan groups like YPG and PKK which the administration as classified as a “terrorist” groups. It is difficult to reconcile both objectives!
Turkey was also a scene during the Cold War. The US, in an attempt to alter the balance of power with its arch-rival, Soviet Union (now Russia) installed some nuclear facilities in Turkey as a deterring measure against the Soviets. Needless to say that the Soviets responded by installing its nuclear facilities in Cuba as a balancing measure.
To further complicate matters, Turkey is a member of US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). There is a growing perception in Turkey that NATO has been apathetic in the aftermath of the July 15, 2016 coup attempt and hasn't shown the appropriate concern a member of the alliance deserves. Statutorily, under Article V of the Alliance Constitution, which deals with collective defence is a principle at the very heart of NATO’s founding treaty. This remains a unique and enduring principle that binds its members together, committing them to protect each other and setting a spirit of solidarity within the Alliance. This is part of the reason Turkey may get away with broad day attack on Russia without immediate reaction from Moscow.
The assassination of the Russian ambassador in Ankara is one of the demonstrations of the worsening relations between two egotistic leaders. This is simply an opinion. I might be wrong!
Olalekan Waheed ADIGUN ( Tel: +2348136502040, +2347081901080; Email: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org ) is a political analyst and independent political strategist for wide range of individuals, organisations and campaigns. He is based in Lagos, Nigeria.
*Photo Caption - Mr. Andrei Karlov
[ Masterweb Reports ] - Nigeria is looking for financial and legal advisers and trustee firms to organise its first Islamic bond in the domestic market, the country's Debt Management Office (DMO) said on Monday. The OPEC member, which is Africa's largest economy, is working on a debut sovereign sukuk but has yet to determine the size of a potential deal.
Nigeria, which is in a recession and needs to raise funds to plug a budget deficit, has set up a government committee to advise on the amount to be raised from the Islamic bond sale, the timing and jurisdiction of the issue.
Issuance of a sovereign sukuk is part of a plan by Nigeria's debt office to develop alternative sources of funding and to establish a benchmark curve.
In a public notice, the DMO said it required the services of banks and an issuing house to serve as financial adviser, a legal firm to serve as a legal adviser and a trustee firm. It said bids for the roles are to be submitted by Jan. 9.
The advisers are expected to work with the debt office towards the sukuk issue at a date that is yet to be announced.
In October, the central bank issued guidelines limiting commercial banks' investment in Islamic bonds issued by state governments to 10 percent of the total amount on offer and fixed a maximum tenor of 10 years for the bonds.
Nigeria has the largest Islamic population in sub-Saharan Africa. Around half of the 180 million people in Africa's most populous nation are Muslims. (REUTERS)
*Photo Caption - As seen.
[ Masterweb Reports: Intersociety reports ] - (Intersociety/SBCHROs, Onitsha Nigeria, 18th December 2016)-The leaderships of International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law (Intersociety) and the Southeast Based Coalition of Human Rights Organizations (SBCHROs) have, again, observed with deepest dismay the recent militarist and undemocratic rulings of Hon Justice Binta Murtala Nyako’s Federal High Court; leading to denial of bail and right to open and public trial of Citizens Nnamdi Kanu, Benjamin Madubugwu, David Nwawusi and Chidiebere Onwudiwe. We totally disagree with the findings or rulings of Hon Justice Binta Murtala Nyako and grounds upon such militarist and undemocratic findings were made.
We hold, in line with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, that that a citizen accused by the State in the open of committing crime of whatever magnitude in the open, must also be tried in the open court and that he who alleges must also prove; that security operatives as witnesses are not more exposed to security threats, if any, than other witnesses who are not security operatives; that Nigeria is not a despotic and militarist republic by its current international status and must not be allowed to be made one by the likes of Retired Gen Muhammadu Buhari, his SSS and hired and conformist members of the Bench; and that any form of secret trial or proceeding unknown to the mandatory sections of the Fundamental Human Rights Chapter of Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution; must be roundly rejected by all Nigerians at all times.
As Nigerians and members of the international community are aware, Citizens Nnamdi Kanu, Ben Madubugwu, David Nwawusi and Chidiebere Onwudiwe have been in indefinite detention or custody of the State Security Services (SSS) since July and October 2015; and June 2016 respectively, over allegations by the Buhari Administration that they committed political crimes, which the Administration tagged “treasonable felony”, “terrorism” and “unlawful of possession of (un-prohibited) firearms”. The four Citizens are chieftains of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB); a non violent self determination and indigenous rights advocacy movement, advocating for the group and citizen’s rights of the Igbo and other Southern Ethnic Nationalities in Nigeria. IPOB and its indigenous rights campaigns are recognized by the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations or ECOSOC under the UN Declaration of the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples; strictly on account of its nonviolent methodology.
According to Buhari Administration, Citizen Nnamdi Kanu committed “a treasonable felony” (i.e. seeking to violently or militarily unseat his government) by operating Radio Biafra London (RBL) with associated agitation messages for a separate statehood and self determination; that Chidiebere Onwudiwe is “a terrorist” by “being caught in Enugu studying how to manufacture Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs)”; that Benjamin Madubugwu is “a possessor of unlawful firearms” by “being caught possessing two Pump Action guns without a license”; and that David Nwawusi is “a reasonable felon” by “being linked to illegal importation of radio transmitters for transmission of separatist and hate messages ”.
By the plain language of the Black’s Law Dictionary: Ninth (9th) Edition 2009; the four nonviolent Citizens under reference are nothing but State’s victims of Prosecutorial Vindictiveness; defined by the globally most respected and widely used law dictionary as the act or an instance of intentionally charging a more serious crime or seeking a more severe penalty in retaliation for a defendant’s lawful exercise of a constitutional right.
We wish to quickly recall that the Hon Justice Binta Murtala Nyako’s Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, Nigeria had on December 1st and 13th 2016 respectively, denied Citizen Kanu and three others bail and deprived them of their constitutional and international rights to be tried and heard in public or openly conducted court proceedings. With the two militarist and undemocratic rulings of Hon Justice Binta Murtala Nyako, mentioned above, it has become clearer that fairness and openness have departed the criminal prosecution of Citizen Nnamdi Kanu and three others. Their prosecution has also changed to persecution with strong circumstantial evidence of convictable verdict already prepared waiting to be delivered at the end of their makeshift trial.
Pieces of circumstantial evidence foreclosing the chances of Citizens Nnamdi Kanu, Benjamin Madubugwu, David Nwawusi and Chidiebere Onwudiwe getting fairness and openness in their criminal prosecution are a long list. Some of them are as follows: 1. Benjamin Madubugwu was arrested and detained indefinitely since July 2015 by SSS without criminal trial till date; a period of seventeen months; 2. Citizens Nnamdi Kanu and David Nwawusi were arrested by SSS and detained indefinitely since October 2015 without criminal trial till date; a period of fourteen months; 3. Citizen Chidiebere Onwudiwe was arrested and detained indefinitely since June 2016 by SSS without criminal trial till date; a period of over six months; 4. Citizen Justice O. Udeh was arrested and thrown into indefinite detention by SSS since July 2016 without any court arraignment or trial till date; a period of over five months;
Others: 5. Citizen Sunday Chukwuka Obasi was arrested; shot at his two legs and thrown into indefinite detention by SSS since August 2016 without any court arraignment or trial till date; a period of over four months; 6. Citizens Ikechukwu Ugwuoha, Asochukwu Ugochukwu, Sunday J. Okafor, Ekene Onuoha and Joseph Okorie (Ogbuawa) were arrested and thrown into indefinite detention by SSS since August 2016 without any court arraignment or trial till date; a period of over four months respectively. In all these, processes and procedures used by the Buhari Administration in arresting and detaining the eleven nonviolent citizens grossly run contrary to the Fundamental Human Rights Chapter of Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as well as the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights of 1981 and the UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1976, all ratified by Nigeria in 1983 and 1993 respectively.
Other persecutorial elements foreclosing fair and open trial as well as fair justice in the criminal prosecution of Citizen Nnamdi Kanu and three others are: total disregard and disobedience of several court pronouncements for the enforcement and protection of the detained Citizens’ legal and constitutional rights such as court bails; mindless killing of over 250 Pro Biafra campaigners and attempted murder of over 300 others by army, police and navy; languishing in prisons and other detention centres across Nigeria of over 150 Pro Biafra Campaigners; criminalization and stigmatization of IPOB’s nonviolent campaigns by the Buhari Administration and its killer-security forces; high executive meddlesomeness in the judicial proceedings of the detained citizens; SSS continued onslaught and crackdown on nonviolent and unarmed IPOB and other innocent Pro Biafra campaigners by way of indiscriminate arrest at odd hours or times of blue law and their long detention without trial; enforced disappearances of scores of IPOB activists; recent militarist and undemocratic rulings of Hon Justice Binta Murtala Nyako’s Federal High Court and associated scripted proceedings; to mention but few.
As we had earlier held, the ongoing criminal proceedings of Citizens Nnamdi Kanu, Ben Madubugwu, Dave Nwawusi and Chidiebere Onwudiwe have disastrously moved from Prosecution to Persecution in all its ramifications; and it may most likely be safe to declare same as political trial and non-judicially triable!
Further, by the plain and unmistakable language of the Black’s Law Dictionary: Ninth (9th) Edition 2009; Prosecution is a criminal proceeding in which an accused person is tried or a conspiracy trial involving trial of more than one person over alleged commission of same offence. The respected global law dictionary further says that the opposite of Prosecution is Persecution; which it defines as a political or judicial violent, cruel and oppressive treatment directed towards a person or group of persons because of their race, religion, sexual orientation, politics, or other beliefs.
The globally respected and widely used law dictionary also provides the following terms and their precise definitions: Criminal Trial: A formal judicial examination of evidence and determination of legal claims in an adversary proceeding; Closed Trial: A trial that is not open to the public usually because of some overriding concerns such as a need to protect a child’s anonymity; Open Trial: A trial that is open to the public; Nemo Judex In Sua Causa: No one or no man should be a judge in his own case or cause; Audi Altarem Partem: Let the other side be heard as well; or nobody should be condemned unheard; Fair Trial: A trial by an impartial or disinterested tribunal in accordance with regular procedures, especially a criminal trial in which the defendant’s constitutional and legal rights are respected.
Hearing: A judicial session, usually open to the public, held for the purpose of deciding issues of facts or of law, sometimes with witnesses testifying; Fair Hearing: A judicial or administrative hearing conducted in accordance with due process; Due Process: The conduct of legal proceedings according to established rules and principles for the protection and enforcement of private rights, including notice and the right to a fair hearing before a tribunal with power to decide the case. Source: Black’s Law Dictionary: Ninth (9th) Edition 2009.
Constitutionally speaking, the express or literal meaning of (optional or exceptional) secret or non public trial, provided under Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria is that it is optional and not mandatory. What is constitutionally mandatory is the trial of accused citizens in open and fair court in Nigeria. In the context of optional or exceptional secret trial, which Hon Justice Binta Murtala Nyako crookedly interpreted, every accused citizen in Nigeria is also left with a constitutional option or choice to accept or reject his or her trial in secrecy or outside open court particularly if he or she reasonably suspects that he or she shall not get fair hearing and fair trial under such a militarist circumstance.
It is on account of these, therefore, that we strongly advise the Defense Counsel or Legal Team of Citizens Nnamdi Kanu, Benjamin Madubugwu, David Nwawusi and Chidiebere Onwudiwe to critically and strategically rethink and re-jig. That is to say that time is here, apt and ripe for them to evaluate and re-evaluate the ugly goings on so as to thwart and scuttle nimbly and courageously all attempts and efforts of the Buhari Administration to “rot “ their “probono” clients in jail at all costs. The rethinking and re-jigging under firm advocacy demand of ours must incorporate the reasonable opinions of their “probono” clients and other leaders of the IPOB. The Pro Biafra nonviolent struggle led by IPOB and others has indeed entered advanced and critical stage and requires commensurate lawful and legitimate response from the defense team and the IPOB leadership in general.
As the Defense Legal Team are aware, there are no guesswork, gambling, sentiments and rigmarole in criminal adjudication and law; just as orbita dicta, not ratio decidendi, are immaterial in judicial findings. Where it is elementarily clear to the defense legal team that the Hon Justice Binta Murtala Nyako’s proceedings; likewise other subsequent proceedings have been brutally operated upon by the Buhari Administration and laid outside the confines of open and fair trial, fair hearing, due process, fair prosecution and fair findings; it is our strong and informed advice that the defence team and their “probono” clients should publicly back out or withdraw from the makeshift trial until the reverse becomes the case.
On no account must Citizen Nnamdi Kanu and three others be allowed to be convicted and despotically jailed by the Buhari Administration under the prevailing biased, militarist and undemocratic circumstances. It is far better to remain in despotic custody without any form of trial than to be convicted and sent to jail under prosecutorial and procedural vindictiveness and despotism.
IPOB, on its part, should remain sticky to its nonviolent stand at all times, in spite of State provocations and persecution, but must add more techniques, tactics and strategies in the overall midwifery of its nonviolent campaigns. Part of these is the need to engage in strategic global campaigns to draw the attention of respected international governments, institutions and personalities over intensified persecution against it by the Buhari Administration. Its nonviolent campaigns must be taken beyond the confines of surface approach; synchronous and asynchronous web conferencing and radio/web jingling and sarcasms; to strategic and critical approaches grounded in information numeracy and literacy and letters of the law.
On our part, we renew our earlier call and reminder to the authorities of the Human Rights Watch, USA and their research team in Nigeria that the world and Nigerians still await their reportorial position on indiscriminate killing and maiming of unarmed and nonviolent Pro Biafra Campaigners by the Buhari Administration since July/August 2015 as well as indiscriminate arrest and long detention without trial of hundreds of IPOB members and supporters by SSS, police and soldiers. To convince Nigerians and international watchers that its Nigerian research team headed by a female South-westerner; are not caught in the web of ethnic bias, the world respected rights watchdog should toe the commendable line of Amnesty International, UK, just as it (HRW) did in the Zaria Shiite Massacre of December 2015.
For: International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety)
Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chairman
Mobile Line: +2348174090052
For: Southeast Based Coalition of Human Rights Organizations (SBCHROs)
1. Comrade Aloysius Attah (+2348035090548)
For: Civil Liberties Organization, Southeast Zone
2. Comrade Peter Onyegiri (+2347036892777)
For: Centre for Human Rights & Peace Advocacy
3. Comrade Samuel Njoku (+2348039444628)
For: Human Rights Organization of Nigeria
4. Engineer Rufus Duru (+2348037513519)
For: Global Rights & Development International
5. Comrade Chike Umeh ( +2348064869601)
For: Society Advocacy Watch Project
6. Obianuju Joy Igboeli, Esq. (+2348034186332)
For: Anambra Human Rights Forum
7. Comrade Alex Olisa (+2348034090410)
For: Southeast Good Governance Forum
8. Jerry Chukwuokoro, PhD (+2348035372962)
For: International Solidarity for Peace& Human Rights Initiative
9. Mr. Tochukwu Ezeoke (+447748612933)
For: Igbo Ekunie Initiative (Pan Igbo Rights Advocacy Group)
10. Comrade Vincent Ezekwume (+2348171793911)
For: Civil Liberties Organization, Anambra State Branch
*Photo Caption - As seen
[ Masterweb Reports: Dr. Peregrino Brimah reports ] - Quran 4:10 - (As for) those who swallow the property of the orphans unjustly, surely they only swallow fire into their bellies and they shall enter burning fire. Proverbs 22:22-23 - Don’t steal from the poor, because they are poor. Don’t oppress the needy in the gate. For Jehovah will plead their cause, And despoil of life those that despoil them.
But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
Have you considered him who calls the judgment a lie? That is the one who treats the orphan with harshness, And does not urge (others) to feed the poor.
And give to the orphans their property, and do not substitute worthless (things) for (their) good (ones), and do not devour their property (as an addition) to your own property; this is surely a great crime.
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.
So woe to those praying ones, Who are careless of their prayers, Those who (want but) to be seen (of men), But refuse (to supply) (even) neighbourly needs.
Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.
Some people are always greedy for more, but the godly love to give!
Whoever gives to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to poverty will be cursed.
Righteousness is not that you turn your faces to the east and the west [in prayer]. But righteous is the one who believes in God, the Last Day, the Angels, the Scripture and the Prophets; who gives his wealth in spite of love for it to kinsfolk, orphans, the poor, the wayfarer, to those who ask and to set slaves free. And (righteous are) those who pray, pay alms, honor their agreements, and are patient in (times of) poverty, ailment and during conflict. Such are the people of truth. And they are the God-Fearing."
A Makhzoomi noblewoman (from the tribe of Makhzoom) stole at the time of the Prophet sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allah exalt his mention ) and Usaamah Ibn Zayd, may Allah be pleased with him, wanted to intercede for her. The Prophet sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam (may Allah exalt his mention) became angry and said: “Do you intercede concerning one of the Hadd set by Allah? Those who came before you were destroyed because if a rich man among them stole, they would let him off, but if a lowly person stole, they would carry out the punishment on him. By Allah, if Faatimah Bint (daughter of) Muhammad were to steal, I would cut off her hand.”
...and oppression is worse than slaughter!
Dr. Peregrino Brimah ( Email: email@example.com ) reports.
*Photo Caption - As seen.