*Intersociety Writes AG, Demands Revamp of Nigeria’s Archaic Laws
Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke, SAN
Attorney General of the Federation & Minister of Justice
The Federal Ministry of Justice, Plot 71b, Shehu Shagari Way
The Federal Secretariat Complex
Abuja, FCT, Nigeria
64th Anniversary Of UDHR (World Human Rights Day): Revisiting & Upgrading Nigeria’s Body Of Archaic Laws Is Long Overdue
Above subject matter refers.
(Onitsha-Nigeria, 13th December 2012)-As you know sir, Monday, 10th day of December 2012, marked the 64th anniversary of the “World Human Rights Day” and Sunday, 9th day of December 2012 also marked 11th anniversary of the “World Anti-Corruption Day”. While the World Anti-Corruption Day anniversary resulted from the enactment in 2003 of the UN Convention Against Corruption courtesy of the UN General Assembly and its office on Drugs & Crime (UNODC), the World Human Rights Day anniversary came as a result of its declaration by the UN General Assembly on 10th day of December 1948 courtesy of Madam Elizabeth Roosevelt’s 18-member committee set up by the UN in 1947.
Globally speaking sir, the two important events particularly the UDHR, are not only times to raise global awareness on the need for all State-actors/parties to protect and respect the rights of the governed and stamp out corruption in their body polity at all times, but they are also times for laws and policies of the member-States or State-parties to be reviewed and upgraded to fall in line with the core aims and objectives of the two locally, nationally, sub-regionally, regionally and globally important documents.
Therefore, sir, it is on the basis of the foregoing that this very important letter to you from the leadership of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law is predicated. The ability of a State-party to the two universal enactments to have a set of progressive criminal and civil laws is an express guarantee for respect and protection of the rights of the governed. Republic of Kenya is one of the few countries in Africa that never experienced military coups since her Independence on 12th December 1963, yet she was very notorious in operating a body of draconian and archaic laws including her draconian Constitution of 1969, largely responsible for the 2007 post election violence that killed at least 1000 people. But in 2010, Kenya joined the league of “modern African democratic entities” by way of her new People’s Constitution of 2010, which secured 67% approval from the country’s voters in a constitutional referendum.
Today, apart from mocking the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 by referring to it as “Decree 24 of 1999”, other Nigeria’s body of laws, both civil and criminal is utterly retrogressive and grossly inconsistent with the international standards and best practices. Nigeria’s body of laws including the 1999 Constitution still contains numerous socially irrelevant provisions. Conversely, adequate provisions that are in tune with modern social realities particularly in the aspects of criminal justice and human rights are acutely missing. For instance, modern criminal intelligence and investigative capabilities and capacities have continued to elude the security authorities in Nigeria largely due to near-total absence of supporting legal provisions in the country’s body of criminal laws and court rules. Nigerian State officials who source arms for the State have continued to empty the European, Asian and American arms warehouses on primitive assumption that “modern security still relies on the barrels of guns”, whereas her global counterparts are busy investing heavily on preventive, intelligence and human securities by way of steady advancements in modern preventive, intelligence and investigative policing as well as constant protection and respect for the rights of the citizens through popular laws, periodic credible elections, mass health and education policies, anti-corruption policies and practices and equitable public infrastructural developments.
Therefore, we are totally in agreement with most Nigerians that the following areas of the country’s body of archaic laws should be revisited and upgraded on the recommendation and inputs of your public office. Some of the areas highlighted in this letter are also contained in our two previous letters, dated 12th and 18th of November 2012, addressed to the Secretary/Clerk of the House of Reps Committee on Constitution Review. The two letters are referenced: Intersociety/NG/001/012/HOR/NA/ABJ/FRN & Intersociety/NG/002/012/HOR/NA/ABJ/FRN. Copies are hereby attached for your perusal and necessary action. Also attached is a copy of the draconian Decree 21 of 1975.
Other Provisions To Be Included, Amended Or Expunged In The Nigerian Constitution Of 1999 & Other Body Of Laws:
1. Electoral Offenses Commission/Special Courts: Nigeria is mandatorily under local and international obligations to criminalize and prosecute electoral offenses & related acts so as to tackle electoral offenses during electioneering (pre-election, election and post election periods). Their penalties should range from three years imprisonment upwards. We hereby recommend for the creation of the above named Commission and Special Courts for same.
2. Corruption & Other Corrupt Practices Special Criminal Courts: Apart from recommending for the creation of the foregoing courts with special rules to govern same, penalties for such crimes should be made stiffer (to at least that of burglary). Present penalties in the country’s anti graft laws are grossly inadequate and should be revisited with the exception of imposition of death penalty for their gravest categories. Intersociety opposes death-penalty with total vehemence.
3. Proper Criminalization Of Torture & Extra-judicial Murders: Presently, the Nigeria’s criminal laws including the CC, CPA, PC, CPC, Police Act and the Evidence Act are porous and weak with respect to the foregoing. Relevant provisions in them should be revisited and reworked bearing in mind the international rights-backed defenses. The State-actors must be made to answer for such heinous crimes at all times. Extra-judicial murders should be treated as willful murder and manslaughter respectively depending on the circumstances. Penalty for torture as defined by the UN Convention Against Torture (CAT) should be made 14 years imprisonment. As you may know sir, there are no pre-judicial and extra-judicial defenses for torture as defined by CAT. Even in war situations, torturous treatments of enemy-captives are governed by laws of war (Geneva Conventions).
4. Justiciability Of Chapter Two Of The 1999 Constitution: This year (2012) marks 33 years since the Chapter Two commonly refers to as “Fundamental Objectives & Directive Principles of the State Policy” was incorporated into Nigeria’s Constitution. It was incorporated into same in 1979 and since then, this important Chapter, which also contains some economic, social, cultural, environmental and groups rights as well as the dos and don’ts of the Nigerian public office holders, has remained toothless owing to obnoxious provision of Section 6 (6) (c) of the Constitution that forbids all courts in Nigeria from inquiring into its conformity or otherwise. It amounts to anarchy for the operators of the State not to be judicially questioned over their actions and inactions with respect to their management of public affairs. The said provision is also grossly inconsistent and incoherent with the same Constitution that gave birth to it. The said paragraph “c” of Section 6 (6) should be revised to empower Nigerians to have right to judicial inquiry into the said Chapter Two. Also, the operators of the State, who are judicially disempowered to hold the citizens judicially accountable with respect to their duties as contained in Section 24 (a) to 24 (f), should exercise such powers and enjoy such rights if the obnoxious paragraph is expunged.
5. Revisiting Infamous Decree 21 Of 1975: By the provision of this draconian Decree, the Nigeria Traffic Warden Service was seconded to the Nigeria Police Force as an “enslaved paramilitary organization”. To this effect, the management and control of the Service was handed down to the Inspector General of the Police. This is by virtue of Sections 59 to 69 of the Nigeria Police Act of 1990 (re-baptized NPF Act of 2004). The most obnoxious part of the Decree is Section 6 of same, which restricts its officers’ ranks to “Senior Traffic Warden” as highest rank to be so attained. The “Senior Traffic Warden” is equivalent to Nigeria Police Inspector. The Service’s lowest rank is called “Traffic Warden Grade 111”, which is equivalent to Constable in the Nigeria Police Force. The infamous Decree 21 of 1975 was promulgated and signed on 19th of August 1975 by Brigadier (as he then was) Murtala Mohammed. Since then, IGP came and gone, regimes of discriminatory practices against the Service’s officers remained. After our exhaustive investigations and findings, it is our firm position that time has come for the obnoxious Decree 21 of 1975 to be given a befitting burial. We further urge your public office to recommend for the collapsing of the Service’s personnel into the near-moribund Nigeria Police Motor Traffic Division as “full officers-in charge” so as to end the age-long discriminatory practices against them particularly in the areas of ranking, posting, promotion and duty assignment.
6. Amendment Of Section 146(3) Of The 1999 Constitution: The said provision that states… “Provided that in giving effect to the provisions aforesaid (section 14 (3)) the President shall appoint at least one Minister from each State who shall be an indigene of such State”, should be expressly amended because it engenders wastefulness, duplicity, corporate laziness, incompetence and corruption. An over-bloated government cabinet is a recipe for huge public recurrent expenditures and indebtedness. While we strongly advocate for the retention of Section 14 (3) of the Constitution for the purpose of equity and evenness in the management of Nigeria’s human and material resources owing to heterogeneous nature of the country, we recommend the use of geopolitical zonal equity rather than State with respect to the appointment of federal ministers. The Senatorial equity should be applied at the State levels in the appointment of civil commissioners.
7. Adequate Protection & Compensation By The State Of The Victims & Witnesses Of Violent Crimes In Nigeria: As you know sir, Nigeria has since joined the league of independent countries and occupied territories of the world as “ the sole prohibitor, prosecutor and punisher” of crimes against persons and properties, which are usually violent in nature. As a result, State is now the sole protector of all citizens and punisher of those who engage in the commission of crimes against persons and properties. Citizens including the victims of violent crimes are forbidden by State from avenging for violence meted out to them. One of the main reasons why modern criminal law as Nigeria has it today, frowns at the moribund customary criminal law is because of the latter’s insistence on the archaic doctrines of “self-help” and “trial by ordeal”.
Therefore, modern criminal justice as three-way traffic is totally sacrosanct and inviolable. It must be upheld at all times without excuses by all nations and territories including Nigeria. The three-way traffic modern principle of criminal justice per Chukwudifu Oputa, JSC simply means “justice to the murderer who murdered another willfully in contravention of State’s prohibition of act of willful murder, which society’s norms and values frown at; justice to the victim, the murdered or bruised, whose battered body and soul seek vengeance; and justice to the society, which norms and values are desecrated and degraded.
Sadly, our thorough investigations into Nigeria’s body of criminal laws clearly show that justice as three-way traffic is almost non-existent in the country especially in practice. The Nigerian State, its body of criminal laws, juridical scholars and jurists are still very far from embracing the theories and practices of “victimology”. For instance, abandonment of, and refusal to treat victims of gun-shot wounds or injuries is still very common in Nigeria. It has also become a common practice among private and public clinics and their practitioners in the country with the authorities of the Nigeria Police Force in all their 6,651 field formations across the country (as of 2008) being the first degree accomplices by their introduction and insistence on the so-called “police report/permit” before such victims could be medically treated. It may most likely be a verifiable statistics that out of every five citizens or victims shot by violent criminals or their attackers ( usually State actors), four are abandoned to die of bleeding and pains; and out of five State actors ( i .e. police officers) shot, five are expressly treated, except those who died on the spot.
Further, our extensive study into Nigeria’s body of laws including the 1999 Constitution, the Criminal Code (CC), Criminal Procedure Act (CPA), Penal Code (PC), Criminal Procedure Code (CPC), Evidence Act, Police Act and the Fundamental Rights Enforcement Rules clearly indicates total absence of adequate mechanisms for State compensation and protection of the victims and witnesses of violent crimes in Nigeria. What seems to have been provided for is “restitution principle” whereby convicts are compelled by further judicial action to pay “damages” to their victims. Under the Fundamental Human Rights Enforcement Rules, for instance, “damages” payable to individual enforcers of rights abuses by a judicially indicted State operator are very difficult to recover. The stringency involved is so alarming that for such “damages” to be recovered in default through court, the consent of the Federal or State Attorney General must be obtained. If the AG withholds his or her consent, it would require a writ of mandamus to compel him or her together with the indicted State operator in other to compel compliance, which may never come. This is after the affected citizen has gone to court to enforce his or her rights, obtained the leave of the court to enforce same and won his or her claims against the State operator or institution.
In the said body of laws studied, the beneficiaries of the rare judicial awards of “damages”, other than those under the Fundamental Rights Enforcement actions, which rarely is the case, are victims from convicts or defendants; and the State from convicts or defendants and even victims. The State under reference is represented by prosecutors. There are no clear-cut provisions in these laws where State is obligated to pay adequate compensations to the proven victims of violent crimes in the country. Shocking and funny too, Nigeria’s body of criminal and civil laws under reference still contains monetary damages ranging from “N40, 00”, “N50, 00” to “N100.00”, etc in a century of common monetary damages, which could range from tens of thousands of naira, hundreds of thousands of naira to millions of naira depending on the circumstances of the damages being judicially asked for.
Under international best practices, victims and witnesses of violent crimes are adequately compensated, rehabilitated and protected by the State at all times. It is therefore our firm recommendation that a constitutional provision should be made for adequate compensation, rehabilitation and protection by the State of the victims and witnesses of violent crimes in Nigeria. To this end, the body of laws under reference including the CC, CPA, PC, CPC, Evidence Act, Police Act and the Fundamental Human Rights Enforcement Rules should be reworked and brought in tandem with the constitutional provision under recommendation. The stringencies inherent in them as well as all irrelevant provisions should be done away with. To make State compensation of the said victims and witnesses easier, we recommend for the establishment of a public trust fund for the compensation and rehabilitation by State of the victims and witnesses of violent crimes.
The trust fund when established should attract to it a certain percentage of the Federation’s annual revenues as well as contributions from key private partners in the country’s key economic sectors. The idea of a public trust fund for the subject under reference is to eliminate the possible problem of the compensation suffering the fate of unpaid judgment debts in the country in which the Federal Government’s share stood at N88.5Billion as at September 2012. As for the amounts to be paid to such victims, it should be provided that if, for instance, a police officer victimizes a citizen violently, the calculation to be used is the totality of the monthly salaries and allowances of the IGP of the Nigeria Police Force for a specific number of years to be determined by the relevant public compensating authorities. Similar methods should be applied in other circumstances. The prompt medical treatment of all victims of gun-shot wounds or injuries in any part of Nigeria should be constitutionalised. Its breaches should also be criminalized vide an Act of the National Assembly of Nigeria with penalties ranging from three years imprisonment and above. The practice of obtaining “police permits” before the said victims are medically treated should be abolished all over the country.
8. Overhauling Nigeria’s Obsolete Criminal Intelligence & Investigation: It is possible that Nigeria as Africa’s major crude oil exporter is also the Continent’s major importer of small arms. It is believed in many socially informed quarters that there are three major procurers of small arms in the country. They are: Federal Government as the sole State small arms procurer; various State Governments as “arms traffickers within borders” (procurement of arms from local illicit sources for motley of their vigilante groups); and non-State actors as “arms traffickers without borders” (procuring small arms from illicit spots outside limitless borders). It has been sadly observed that any security challenge in Nigeria makes European, Asian and American manufacturers of small arms instant millionaires, if not billionaires. For instance, the little deployment of sciences of intelligence, bomb making( usually locally made improvised explosive devices) and detonation by the Boko Haram militant elements and their political sponsors, which may have taken them a fraction of millions of naira, has grossly exposed Nigeria’s emptiness in intelligence and preventive policing.
In panicky response to the said ragtag threats, the country earmarked a whopping sum of N921Billion (roughly $6Billion), sourced from borrowed and generated sources, in the form of “defense budget for 2012” and possibly ran to European, American and Asian small arms warehouses, like a mad man holding a sharp knife in a densely populated market, with a view to flooding the country with arms the more. Today, small arms are found at every right, left and center part of the country. There are State and quasi State arms bearers everywhere in the Nigeria, yet insecurity remains the country’s common salutation. It is widely believed in independent crime and security experts’ quarters that there may most likely be up to, if not over 5million illicit small arms in wrong hands in the country excluding those in the right hands. The Nigeria Police Force is presently peopled by 371,000 officers and plans are being muted to add more 280,000. The presence of the Force is still negatively felt by most Nigerians. It is a science of common sense and simple intelligence for a professional kidnapper to rely more on his mobile phone and less on his AK-47 Assault rifle in the course of his operation except when he is attacked or provoked. Conversely, Nigerian security agents including police personnel rely more on their AK-47s and less on simple intelligence and common sense.
The modern security concept centers on “people security”, “preventive security”, and “intelligence security”. As the saying goes, it is better to catch an armed robber or kidnapper in his hideout that to try to catch him when he is on rampage. Nigeria’s intelligence and investigative policing is alarmingly obsolete. The country still over-relies on AK-47-driven and reactive security concepts instead of moving away from same by overhauling her obsolete security system to instill the culture of modern securitization. The evolution of electronic policing toolkits has made preventive policing easy and cheaper in the world over. Today, in criminal investigation, for instance, there are scientific or technological means of establishing particulars of violent crimes such as metals, hairs, bloods, fibers, sand, ceramics, pellets, bricks, bullets, finger-prints, footages, textiles, etc, and these processes may be called “forensic analysis:”. Their analytical warehouses may be called “crime laboratories” or “crime scenes”.
In Nigeria, preventive policing devices such as old and latest versions of the closed circuit televisions, tracking security cameras and hundreds of others are rarely available particularly in the Nigeria Police Force. Where they are found at all, they are located in the private security establishments run by major oil, telecommunications, banking and leading private security organizations (companies). Modern criminal intelligence as well as criminal investigation as the hallmark of criminal justice system has continued to elude Nigeria. It has been statistically and criminologically observed that there are over 4million hidden security cameras presently in the UK-a country with high manufacturing capacity of small arms. The crime laboratories of the Nigeria’s Police State CIDs are nothing to write home about. The NPF is still not electronically linked to its 6,651 field formations in Nigeria. Its central crime data warehouse, whether physical or electronic, is almost non-existent. It may most likely be correct to say that 95% of the NPF’s so-called “IPOs” (investigating police officers) lack basic computer literacy. Many, if not most of the Force senior officers ranging from Assistant Superintendents to Deputy Inspectors General “do not know computers and computers, in turn, do not have their passwords”.
It is therefore our firm recommendation that compulsory mass computer trainings to cover basic and professional packages should be organized in batches for the officers of the Nigeria Police Force, both those in the rank and files (Constables to Inspectors) and the command cadre (ASPs to the IGP). Those to be deployed to State CIDs henceforth must have requisite computer knowhow to be able to cope with modern criminal and investigative intelligences.
We also recommend strongly for the establishment of special policing and security intelligence universities to train and re-train Nigeria’s security agencies particularly the NPF in the art of modern criminal investigation and intelligence. The traditional university degree courses offered by the newly upgraded Police University, Kano, defeats the very aim of agitations for its establishment. It has been statistically observed that out of the Taiwan’s 172 universities, nine are special military and security intelligence universities. Nigeria’s security and intelligence universities including the Police University, Kano, should be professionalized to offer security and criminal intelligence courses such as general and criminal law( including international law), criminology & security studies, peace & conflict resolution, sociology, psychology, biology, geography, anthropology, bio/cyber crimes/terrorism courses, courses on anti corruption and human rights, computer science/IT, pathological sciences, war and conflicts, etc.
Finally, as the Chief Law Officer of the Federation, history will be kind to you if the archaic and obnoxious provisions in the body of laws under reference including the 1999 Constitution are cleansed or upgraded. Your attention is also drawn to the urgent need to rework the CC, CPA, PC, CPC, Evidence Act, Prisons Act, Nigerian Security Agencies Act, the Private Guards Acts, Police Act, Public Complaints Act, and the Legal Aid Act, among others with a view to bringing them at par with international best norms and practices. Their accompanying court rules should also be revisited, to among others, be made to contain modern procedures for assessing and accepting pieces of criminal evidence generated from technological and electronic sources. It is also our information that there are numerous international rights treaties yet to be ratified and domesticated by the Federal Republic of Nigeria in line with Section 12 of the 1999 Constitution. Some of them are Rome Statute for ICC, ICCPR, ICESCR, Convention Against Torture and their protocols, to mention but a few. We call for their prompt ratification or domestication where they are ratified but yet to be domesticated (i.e. ICCPR & ICESCR ratified in 1993).
We hope that this important letter to your good office will be promptly and judiciously attended to.
For: Intersociety, Nigeria
Chairman, Board of Trustees
Phone: +234(0) 8033601078, +234(0) 8180103912
1. Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, President & Commander-in-Chief Federal Republic of Nigeria
2. Honourable Justice (Mrs.) Aloma Mariam Mukthar, Chief Justice of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
3. Senator David Mark, Senate President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
4. Honourable Aminu Tambuwal, Speaker of the House of Reps Federal Republic of Nigeria
5. Senator Ike Ekweremadu, Chairman, National Assembly Joint Committee on Review of the 1999 Constitution
6. Mr. Mohammed D. Abubakar, Inspector General of Police Federal Republic of Nigeria
7. Mr. Ita Ekponyong, Director General State Security Services of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
8. Col. Sambo Dasuki, National Security Adviser of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
9. Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Federal Republic of Nigeria
10. Dr. Chidi Odinkalu, Chairman of the Governing Council National Human Rights Commission of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
11. Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Minister of Finance & Coordinating Minister of Economy, Federal Republic of Nigeria
*Tags: Nigerians, Intersociety, Council, Police, Service, Commission. Sack, Ringim, Africa, Masterweb
*Nigeria: NDDC Projects - A Time to Reap
By Ifeatu Agbu
Where is Father Mark? The question was directed at no one in particular. One of his parishioners, Mr Ugochukwu Obute, was only trying to be sure that their spiritual father was present at the official commissioning ceremony of their neighbourhood internal roads. Obute, who is the chairman of town one in the Federal Housing Estate, New Owerri, wanted to be sure that the Reverend Father was present, ostensibly to help clear some doubts and misinformation among the residents of the urban community.
It turned out that some government agencies had been laying claims to building their roads. The roads were so well done that some politicians saw it as a means of boosting their chances of electoral conquest. Curiously, those trying to take credit for the good roads did not mind that a project sign post boldly proclaimed that the contract was awarded by the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC.
So, when Rev. Dr Mark Njoku, the Parish Priest of St Mark’s Catholic Church, had the opportunity to speak, he said he was relieved that they had confirmed the true identity of the agency that brought them succour. “At last, we now know who to thank for giving us a solid and smooth network of roads. We are certainly going to offer specials prayers for the NDDC for literally making our roads straight and smooth.” he said.
For Engr. Emeka Nwachukwu, one of the leaders in the estate, “this is the dividend of democracy that we can see and feel.” He said that a good job always speaks for itself, noting that the NDDC deserves kudos for paying attention to quality. Indeed, the three-kilometre road seemed to confer the status of Government Reservation Area [GRA] on the estate. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Map of Nigeria's Niger Delta Region showing its composite 8 states.
The neighbouring Federal Housing Estate, also in the New Owerri area of the state capital, equally celebrated the inauguration of its own internal roads built by the NDDC. The chairman of that section of the estate, Engr. Jerry Ugwuoke, commended the fact that the asphalt was laid on stone base. ‘That is as good as it gets in road construction,” he said.
The high standard exhibited on these roads, more or less set the tone for many other projects commissioned within the same period by the NDDC in Imo and Rivers states. While 6 have been inaugurated so far in Imo State, it was a rosier picture in Rivers State, where 46 completed projects were handed over to the benefitting communities. The projects include roads, solar-powered water, classroom blocks, cottage comprehensive health centres and rural electrification.
It was celebration galore as the people sang and danced to express their joy and appreciation for the amenities the NDDC had provided for them. The people of Mbaoma in Owerri North Local Government Area of Imo State were particularly joyful. Their happiness came from the portable water which they are now drinking, courtesy of the 20,000 gallon solar-powered water scheme built by the commission.. Their school children danced; their women danced and their men cheered. Even NDDC officials joined in the dancing.
The dancing continued in Akeme community in Arondizogu, Ideato North Local Government Area. They also had cause to rejoice as the Ejizie-Izuogu Road was handed over to them by the NDDC. Eze Dr Mike Nwosu, the traditional ruler of Akeme in Arondizogu, said that his people had seen the good works of the NDDC and could testify that the commission does not compromise on standards. “Our prayer is that the road will pave the way to a flourishing relationship that will benefit my people,” he said.
Eze Nwosu said he had many good things to say to the NDDC but he was constrained to limit his comments to Igbo language because of a new directive from Chief Rochas Okorocha, the Imo State Governor. According to him, there is a new order that no traditional ruler in the state should speak English in any public event. He said the directive was meant to save the Igbo language from extinction.
Barr. Peter Ezeobi, the representative of Imo State on the board of the NDDC, told the people that the commission was determined to make its presence felt in all parts of the Niger Delta as quickly as possible. He assured them that as an interventionist agency, the NDDC was determined to take development to all nooks and crannies of the region. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Map of Nigeria's Niger Delta Region showing Port Harcourt
Ezeobi, who performed the commissioning ceremony on behalf of the Managing Director of the NDDC, Dr Christian Oboh, assured the people that the amenities being provided for them would endure for a long time because the commission was known for high quality jobs. “We don’t believe in half measures and indeed, excellence is our hallmark,” he said.
The interventionist agency had earlier commissioned a three-kilometre road, with drainages for a high-brow neighbourhood in Aladinma estate of Owerri North Local Government. At that event Mrs Osato Arenyika, the NDDC director in the Owerri office, said that from now on, all completed projects of the interventionist agency would be commissioned to show the world how well it has performed. “In the past, we had taken it for granted that our projects will speak for us, but it has become necessary to also show the people what we are doing,” she said.
Arenyika charged the Saint Andrew’s Neighbourhood Association [SANA], the body coordinating the affairs of the estate, to maintain the road, as well as the street lights and the transformer also provided by the NDDC.
Engr. Michael Nwachukwu, chairman of the SANA neighbourhood, said that the NDDC has added a lot of value to the lives of the people in the area. “You have made us the envy of the town, our neighbourhood has become the prime place to live in this town, with durable roads built for us, the transformer you gave us and recently the solar street lights,” he said.
In Rivers State, it was truly a bounteous harvest of projects. In a three-day swing across the state, 46 projects were inaugurated with fanfare by the representative of Rivers State on the Board of the NDDC, Professor Ibitamuno Aminigo and the Director in the State office, Dr [Mrs] Enyia Akwagaga, on behalf of Dr. Oboh, the Managing Director of the commission.
At George-Ama in Okrika Local Government Area, the home town of Chief Rufus Ada-George, the former Governor of Rivers State, the feeling of satisfaction was palpable. The welcoming smiles were all that was needed to demonstrate that the people were satisfied with the internal roads which the NDDC built for them.
Prof Aminigo expressed delight at the quality of job done on the road. “It is a thing of joy for me because I know the value of this project to this community. The benefits are enormous for the fishermen who can now very easily access the markets with their daily takes,” he said. Aminigo said the board and management of the commission were working in consonance with the transformation agenda of President Goodluck Jonathan, with special emphasis on increasing the tempo of infrastructure development in the oil-producing region. He stated that the NDDC would henceforth commission all its completed projects to erase the wrong impression that it was not living up to expectations as an interventionist agency.
A community leader in George-Ama, Mr.James Kalipa thanked the NDDC for the road project, describing it as a sign of good things to come in the community. “We say a big thank you to the NDDC for touching the lives of our people. We expect more projects in the future.” The NDDC Director heading the Rivers State office, Dr Akwagaga said that the commission would continue to intervene in the areas of critical need for the people of the region. She urged communities where projects were commissioned to jealously guard them for the benefit of their people.
Dr. Akwagaga commended the people of Umerelu in Ikwerre Local government Area for appreciating the classroom blocks built for them and urged them to continue to be peaceful as that was the only way to attract more amenities from the NDDC.
Mr. Ifeatu Agbu ( email@example.com ) writes from Port Harcourt, Nigeria.
*Irish Court Acquits Nigerian Teen Murder Accused
By Masterweb News Desk
On April 13, 2010, Masterweb published an article titled "Many Protest Racist Murder of Nigerian Teen" ( The article is republished below ). Michael Barry, a 26-year-old man accused of murdering the Nigerian teenager in a row with racial undertones told court he did not know his brother (now diseased) had a knife when they were after a group of young boys and girls to try to retrieve his mobile phone from them.
Barry in his testemony said before 15-year-old Toyosi Shittabey was stabbed, “I was extremely annoyed, worked up and I just wanted my phone back”. It was the sixth day of trial of Michael Barry, a resident of Ringsend, Dublin, who pled not guilty in the murder of Toyosi Shittabey on April 2, 2010, at The Boulevard, Mount Eustace, in Tyrrelstown, Dublin.
Prosecution argued Barry’s late brother Paul inflicted the stab wound on Shittabey but that Michael was an accessory to the murder. Counsel for the prosecution told the opening hearing that on the fateful day, the victim was with a "group of five black youths and four white females" and one of the girls asked for the light-up of her cigarette by Paul Barry. According to the counsel, a row ensued with "racist undertones" and name calling followed by exchange of blows. Counsel for prosecution continued that believing a phone was taken by the group, Barry and his brother Paul pursued the group in a car and confronted them at a roundabout in Tyrrelstown. Prosecution told court Paul Barry holding a knife approached one of the youths and Shittabey went to assist the youth in danger and was stabbed by paul in the chest. ( Continues below…… )
Photo Above: Michael Barry (Left); Late Toyosi Shittabey (Right)
The judge in his ruling believed Barry had no prior knowledge his late brother had a knife and ordered acquittal of Barry. Judge Barry White told court there was no evidence Barry knew his brother Paul was carrying a knife when he drove him to the scene where he stabbed Shittabey. The judge also cited the failure of a crucial witness to give evidence in court and the fact that Paul Barry was now dead. The judge directed a verdict of not guilty entered in the case against Michael Barry, saying: "In circumstances where the accused man's brother has died and with the refusal of a witness to co-operate, the interests of justice may not be well served in this case".
Many Protest Racist Murder of Nigerian Teen Date: April 13, 2010.
By Masterweb News Desk
Over 2000 people on Saturday, April 10 in Dublin marched in protest of the racist murder of a Nigerian teen. Dublin is the largest city and capital of Ireland. The march was peaceful with a large number of police presence. Toyosi Shittabey, a Muslim 15-year-old boy of Nigerian decent was on Friday, April 2 this year stabbed to death in Dublin, in what many described as racial attack. The teenager was found lying on the street, near his home, at Mount Eustace in Tyrelstown at about 2000 BST on the fateful day. He was rushed to the hospital and died short time later. Many condemned the attack, describing it as racially motivated. A Dublin teenager, Patrick Kabangu, was reported as saying: “Racism is hiding everywhere. It is in the schools. Everywhere in Ireland is racist, it is just being hidden. This country is crazy.” Another resident in a Dublin Sunday Tribune report said: "It was a racist attack. He was a lovely happy-go-lucky boy." Two men aged 23 and 38 were arrested as suspects. The Garda (Irish Police) in a press statement said an official from its Racial and Intercultural Office was working in the city amid concerns about tensions.
Shittabey, is one of six children who migrated to Ireland with their parents 11 years ago. The 15-year-old, a talented footballer who played for Shelbourne’s youth team, was walking home from the National Aquatic Centre in company of friends when they were subjected to racial name calling by two men in the Mount Eustace estate. Words were exchanged between the two groups with Shittabey’s group walking away from the scene. The duo ran into their nearby home and picked up knives with which they went after Shittabey’s group in a car. The 15-year-old told his friends to ignore the stalkers and as they walked away, Shittabey was stabbed on the chest by one of the men.
A very reliable source identified one of the assailants as Paul Barry, 38, a resident of an undisclosed address on Pearse Street in Dublin. Paul Barry according to the source, was in 2001 when he was 29, charged under Section 2 of the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act, after a stabbing incident on Pearse Street the previous year. Barry who was unemployed at that time was charged along three other men - Paul Fitzpatrick (20), David Colclough (29), and Darren Kenny (31). The four, charged under Section 2 of the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act were accused of using the word 'nigger' and 'niggers' during an attack, June 11, 2000 on David Richardson, 46, and his son Christian, 25, on Pearse Street. ( Continues below…… )
Photo Above: Late Toyosi Shittabey
The march in memory of Toyosi Shittabey was organized against calls for its abandonment by Nigerian Muslim community leaders who argued it may spin out of control. In addition, some of the religious leaders saw it as too political. The march which began at Parnell Square, ending at the Irish Parliament, was led by a sizeable contingent of mainly black teenagers. “Never Again” they chanted as they marched with different worded placards.
The march which mobilized a faction of Dublin black population, and both human rights and anti-racist groups, was unquantifiable display of solidarity. Different speakers drawn mainly from political parties spoke at the end of the march. Ciaran Cuffe, Green Party junior minister spoke condemning the attack in its totality.
Other speakers included Socialist MEP Joe Higgins, trade union representative Jack O'Connor of SIPTU, members of the African community and Shittabey's cousin Abisoye Shittabey. Toyosi's cousin after her speech, read a poem she wrote for the commemoration, which read: “God wanted a football player for his team in heaven. He looked down and say Toyosi Shittabey.” The crowd concurred: “So God took him by the hand . . . You are safe where you are . . . in God’s care.” Jack O’Connor spoke of the need for unity and solidarity in the wake of Shittabey’s death. “No one should attempt, on the basis of this tragic event, to promote division or disharmony on the basis of where someone lives or comes from,” he said. ( Continues below…… )
Photo Above: Demonstration in memory of Late Toyosi Shittabey
When the march reached government buildings, it was addressed by Minister of State, Ciaran Cuffe. Cuffe in his speech said that the Minister for Integration should work closely with the Department of Justice to make sure those who murdered Shittabey faced penalties they deserve under the law. He continued: “There is no black Ireland or white Ireland, there is one Ireland. There is no old Ireland and new Ireland, there is one Ireland.” ( Continues below…… )
Photo Above: Demonstration in memory of Late Toyosi Shittabey ( 2nd Photo )
Many have condemned the racist murder of Shittabey, while some disgruntled elements are engaging in cyber ranting. There are several reports of racist blogging on possible backlash from Shittabey’s murder. The bloggers, many using neo-Nazi logos in their identity boxes, discuss the possibility of a backlash from the immigrant community in the death of Toyosi Shittabey. Some of the racist comments included: "If they want trouble they will get it -- they had better get on the government/taxpayer-sponsored planes back home cos its gonna get worse for them if they stay. This country is in recession -- we don't need leeches sucking us dry."
Sub-Saharan Africans were described as "Watermelons" in one blog. One blogger describing himself as "Irish Celt" wrote: "If they start a revenge campaign I will be out on the street looking for more niggers to kill. These welfare-suckers are outbreeding us 6 to 1 and if we don't sort them out now it will only get harder, just look across the water in England, there are lots of suburbs whites can't even walk through without being attacked by niggers. We didn't ask for these niggers to come here to our country, they were not invited and they are sure as hell not welcome. This liberal social experiment on us Irish has been foistered [sic] onto us without question nor debate. Then the liberals wonder why so many of us are raging over the flood of these welfare-sucking scum into our country." ( Continues below…… )
Photo Above: Demonstration in memory of Late Toyosi Shittabey ( 3rd Photo )
Shittabey was given a Muslim burial Thursday, April 8 after view of his body in a coffin at a Lucan funeral home. Many filed past his body in the funeral home, after the traditional Muslim washing and shrouding ceremony took place. Shittabey’s heartbroken father Segun and his brothers Sodiq, 22, and Tunde, 12, looked on as mourners paid their last respect.
The body was conveyed in a hearse, in a long funeral procession with a Garda escort, to Newcastle Cemetery in Dublin for internment. Mourners wept as the coffin was brought out of the hearse and laid on the ground. The lid was opened and the shrouded body removed amid loud wailing, weeping and calls to Allah. Nigerian Imam Shehu Adetola Adeniji from Dublin’s Sheriff Street Mosque led a short prayer. It was then lowered into the grave to the waiting arms of two imams, thence onto wooden slabs, where the 15-year-old was laid to rest on his right side facing east. Shittabey’s brothers Sodiq and Tunde, were the first to throw clay over their sibling's grave before it was covered with earth.
As mourners chanted and cried out Shittabey’s name, Imam Adeniji urged them to look at the teen's death as a lesson. "No matter how or what was the cause of his death it was destined that he was going to live just 15 years and the 15 years of his life were very glorious. It's a lesson for everybody so we can improve our lives, be law-abiding and follow the way of God," he said. “No amount of protest, no demonstration will bring back this boy’s soul. Your good mind is what he needs – not fighting, not crying,” Adeniji continued. Referring to the planned protest march, he said: “Demonstration is uncalled for. We do not approve of it. It is creating social unrest . . .”
Assistant Imam at Sheriff Street Mosque, Alhaj Saliu Adewunmi Adeniran speaking against a protest rally said: “It can instigate problems with teenagers and we are worried about where it might lead.”
Important dignitaries at the funeral included the Nigeria Ambassador to Ireland, Kemafo Nonyerem Chikwe and Irish Minister for Integration and Equality, Mary White. Teachers and Shittabey’s schoolmates from Hartstown Community School and representatives from Shelbourne Football Club were also in attendance.
Photo Above: Toyosi Shittabey’s coffin at Newcastle Cemetery in Dublin
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*Abians My Friends – The Do It People
By Peter Opara
On Saturday, August 11, 2012, the famous, and renowned Boston, Massachusetts based Abia American Association honored yours truly – Peter “Nwa Dee” Opara with a Community Service Award.
By the way “Nwa Dee Opara “ - is a favorite reference to yours truly by my elder friend Nnanna Agomoh (Chief), a native of Agbor Umuahia, a treasure of a man; a repository of Igbo history and a superlative articulator of same, and a juggernaut in Nigerian cyberspace where we battle for the soul of our race to keep and to protect, and have but wit and intellect – and might I add - experience, knowledge and certain wisdom, as sustenance and tools to be successful.
I was in good company at the night of the award – family – William and Mary; and friends - Dr. Jason Nwankwo especially – a co-awardee.
Nde Abia ndeewo nu o! Abia kwenu! Igbo kwenu!! Kwezuo nu!!!
It was an award I neither expected nor envisaged. You do things, comport yourself as natural, and carry yourself about, oblivious sometimes, that eyes are trained on you for all manner of reasons. You can’t please everyone. Thus “oso ndi, owe ndi” – sang the great Maazi Osita Osadebay; and might I add – ufodu hu, ufodu ahughi; nde kwe, nde ekweghi. C’est la vie, the French would say. Such is life – as we read, and used to say, way back in secondary school.
I said on the night of the award that the award was a culmination of about half a century relationship with Abians. I later chewed on the word “culmination”, and thought it was not the right word. I thought “Continuation” was more like it - continuation of a relationship that took on new heights in mutual understanding, mutual appreciation and joyous camaraderie with most all Abians I have encountered over time dating back to my infant days.
I indeed relayed offhandedly elsewhere a long time ago, that Abians were my favorite Igbo. I meant it. Abians and I are like oil and salt. We mix pretty well.
My relationship with Abians, dates back to my primary school days 40 plus years ago. Two of my primary school mates and friends I readily recall were Lucky Ekpo and Ndukwe Isiguzo. They were Abians. Ndukwe was a bit older, while Lucky and I were the same age. Ndukwe related to me as an elder friend, and often had me accompany him to their house, where he lived with his senior brother. He would prepare delicious egg-sandwich which we ate. Ndukwe was a fun loving guy, who I cannot ever recall being angry. He was un-provocable. I have a picture of Ndukwe in my head, as I write, always smiling or laughing even when we were running around chasing the ball in the soccer field. Not even a reference to him by our beautiful Ikwere lady teacher unhinged him. Ndukwe had slightly protruding buttocks, and our lady teacher called him “ike madu asaa”. Ndukwe always put his buttocks to use when we played soccer, using it to nudge his attacker away. Often we heard someone complaining that Ndukwe was blocking him with his big buttocks. Ndukwe was bigger than most of us, yet he never used his size against us, except on the matter of buttocks. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Map of Abia State, Nigeria.
Lucky, was a good soccer player; a better player than yours truly. I thought fondly of Lucky ever since we parted after primary school. Lucky and I were to chance upon each other in a rare circumstance on main land Lagos. I was walking along Martin Street once, so pre-occupied mentally, and unlike me, oblivious of goings on around me. Suddenly, a fellow ran up to my side. Excuse me, the fellow said to me, and I had not cast sight on him before he let go his inquiry. “Did you go to primary school in Port Harcourt?” “Is your name Peter?” Once I cast sight at the inquirer, he needed no introduction. “Lucky”, I screamed. We went on to talk, as if we had been together since our last day in Primary school in 1966 till that particular moment in 1983 on Martin Street, Lagos.
Once back at the office, I could not wait to relay my find, my primary school classmate. It pleased me that Lucky had advanced in education, having obtained a university education. A situation where one’s primary school classmate was not at a comparable level in education after a considerable number of years is simply not the best; it easily could give rise to a feeling of inadequacy on the less accomplished party.
It pained me, however, that ours was a brief re-union cut short by the coup d’etat of 1984. I looked forward to re-living our primary school experience with Lucky who immediately following our chance meeting, became a constant presence in my office at the National Assembly.
I had early introduction to Abia, who generally then were represented by the respective towns/clans which today constitute the modern state – Umuahia, Abiriba, Item, Ohafia, Olokoro, Oloko. Ubakala, Ohuhu, Arochukwu etc.
There was a maternity home where we lived in Port Harcourt. Ours was a big compound occupied by two families – my father’s and his cousin’s, now a retired justice, whose wife was the midwife and proprietor of the maternity. Women from different parts of Igbo land resident in Port Harcourt came to the maternity to deliver their babies. Among my memorable experience then was observing women in labor, and witnessing actual delivery. The latter lasted but seconds, as I was chased away like the curious cat I was by ndi nwunye di of the woman about to deliver. But the lasting memory, that is the most fun for us kids, me especially was when women came to the maternity to escort a new baby’s mother home.
Let me confess that I liked it when women from the extended Opara/Umuokemmadu family gave birth. Everyone knew I liked “mmiri ogwu” – the super-hot, spicy soup, sumptuously prepared with assorted fish and special yam, the type we used to call “ji Onicha” in those days, for nursing mothers. A correction. There is nothing like “ji onicha” – that is ji cultivated and harvested in Onicha. The ji in question, I later discovered was from the north of then eastern region – Abakiliki all the way to Ogoja/Obudu. I recall a picture in our house in my infant days that was taken of a yam-tuber, that was so big, and had just about some human features – head, arms and legs. Elder folks amongst us, may testify to this. That was yam/ji form Abakiliki or Obudu. Ji onicha so-called had the mark of being really big.
Well, about my love for mmiri ogwu for new mothers, each day during the new mother’s “omugwo”, a plate of the spicy soup was reserved for yours truly, with good pieces of yam on the side. My fondness for “mmiri ogwu” was such that I was often spoken about like the nursing mother. I ate everything she ate. Thinking about it, you had to be a favored chap to be so accommodated in the extended large Opara/ Umuokemmadu family. Indeed my father was the patriarch of the Opara family, well beloved and regarded way beyond the Opara/Okemmadu clan; being his only son at the time was special.
Among the assemblage of women that came to escort new baby mothers home, those we referred to as Umuahia Women, who might have hailed from any town in the present day Abia, stood out. I did not know about other kids my age then, but I knew I took special note of Umuahia women, and I readied myself for their presence at the maternity. By their accent I could tell when an Umuahia woman delivered at the maternity. And the reason I and other kids readied ourselves for the presence of Umuahia women was that they came prepared to escort their nwunye di home in style. They came prepared with special songs whose melody and rendition were arresting, and added to their melodious songs that were beautifully rendered were the instruments that made their performance exciting for us kids, such that we danced along with the women, and followed them for as long as we kids could go beyond the confines of our home. I still remember the joy Umuahia women brought us kids each time they were around, more than 50 years later!
As we emerged from the war, some of us from the bushes, there was no place else to go but where there was light. We had to find places to school away from the village. My father a civil engineer had passed on, just as the war ended – on January 22nd to be exact. My senior brother, a surveyor, ended up in Aba, and there, too, I ended up and re-started my secondary education which like that of the rest of us was abridged in 1967 by the ruthless war imposed upon us.
In Aba, I found myself immersed in what is today Abia - in Aba/Ngwa in which resided assorted Abians - the Olokoro, the Oloko, the Abiriba, the Ohafia, the Item, the Igbere, the Umuahia etc. What was quite interesting, as I recall it, was that my relationship with the diverse Abia indigenes was frictionless. I enjoyed the company of Abia folks, as much as they enjoyed mine. My classmate, friend and co-prefect Chima Ohuonu from a nearby village to our school, and I partied all around interior Ngwa towns, just as I did around Aba town with my other classmate, friend and co-prefect Sunny Uwakwe Nlewedim – alias “Saqui” from Umuahia town proper.
My Abiriba or Ohafia or Item friends (I hardly could tell their accents apart then and now so I refer to them as my “eleghe onwa” friends) with Okirika cloth connection, often brought me nice shirts, some of which distinguished me from the rest of the students. For instance, my classmates nicknamed me “Royal Assurance” - for the reason that my immaculate white shirt upon blue “Crimplene” pants – white upon blue being our school uniform - happened to be the official wear of a new Insurance Company – Royal Assurance - that set up shop in Aba soon after the war. The shirt was a gift by one of my eleghe onwa classmates with Okrika cloth connection, a street smart genial fellow with ways about the world that I could never comprehend then; a very fine fellow, whose name regretfully escapes me. It helped to keep my white shirt immaculate white by laundering it with bleach I concocted in our school laboratory.
Midway during the war, when we were in Eastern Ngwa, I became friends, naturally with two eleghe onwa chaps. Somehow, I always found myself in the company of Abians or they found mine. There were also these two seniors, whose dialect I now know was distinctly Oloko or Olokoro. “Odini ife o” - I always heard them lament, when they were cracking jokes. They were a funny lot. One way we passed the drudgery of war was to crack joke amongst ourselves. Being younger than the rest – and possessing way less knowledge and experience than the rest, all I did was listen in to the jokes. Also then, unlike now, a junior needed not be told to stay away from senior jokes and enjoyment thereof. It was drilled into you from the first day in secondary school – where a Form One student stays clear of a Form 2 student for the simple reason of seniority. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Front Cover of “Man of Biafra”, book by Peter Opara
One of the eleghe onwa chaps we were with in eastern Ngwa did not survive the war, having been a victim of a mortar bomb not far from where we usually congregated. But the surviving eleghe onwa chap, ended up residing somewhere along Ogbo Hill Road near our school. We saw each other often on my way to school or on my way back from school, at a time one was a commuter student. Though this fellow was not in school as we were, he was all the same interested in the shenanigans we were involved in at school, and somehow wanted to be part of it. For instance, when I shared with him that we had a group, a gang it will be perceived to be today, at school, called “Devil Crackers”, and that we had plans to make black upon black outfit for ourselves; he indicated interest in joining us and talked about making a black upon black outfit for himself. I found that curious then, just as I do now.
As I embarked on my journey to the US, soon following my HSc, at the International Airport at Ikeja – not yet named Murtala then, heading to New York City and to the same school with me, was an Item man. Abian. We were in check-in line, when this tall fellow, a bit older and I struck up conversation. Turned out he was going to Manhattan, just as I was, and to the same school, just as I was. Willie Okpo and I were to share the same apartment for several months, till I moved into Columbia University dormitory. The first wedding in which I was a full participant – Best Man – was that of an Abian. Willie Okpo. Willie and I remain friends to this day – more than three decades later.
Abians and I finding ourselves continued. As I found myself in cyberspace, where we do daily battle against external enemies after the soul of our race, yet another Abian and I found each other – Canadian resident Dr. KC Prince Asagwara. We gelled naturally, and before we knew it, we were like, yes, oil and salt – mixing and enjoying each other’s senses, intellects and all.
Nnanna Agomoh (Chief) was another find; an Abian, who I fondly refer to as “Nnaanyi” for he richly merited and deserved the reference. Nnaanyi Agomoh wrote the introduction to my book – Dynamite Pieces – Ogbunigwe in defense of Igbo of my father’s. When bullets begins to rain in cyberspace, and some desire peace which could be gained only if Ogbuonyeiro ceased fire, folks knew to go to Nnaanyi Agomoh to reach me.
Yet another Abia find was Chief Charles Okereke, owner and proprietor of the Nigerian Masterweb. Chief Okereke is a master tactician and political strategist with whom I continue to engage quietly and covertly for good of Igbo and Nigeria as a whole to the extent possible. What I like most about Chief Okereke is his patience, and methodical approach to political situations. There is always something to gain from a worthy relationship/friendship. From Chief Okereke, I am able to oil the engine that runs my patience – in the things he and I have engaged in especially.
Jason Nwankwo is a good friend of mine I vouchsafe for the reason that he is first Abian, of Arochukwu extraction, before he was Anambaran. Now, do not get me wrong, some of my best friends are Anambrans. And I happen to be Imolite.
Dr. Amos Nwosu. “Ekpo ka ekpo”. I once heard Dr. Nwosu refer to a fellow Abian, a senior of his, he said at the University of Nigeria Nsukka, as “Ekpo ka ekpo”. The reference stayed with me for its symbolism. The man he referred to, an in-law to Maazi Promise Igbokwe, is often not present with us in the immediate Igbo community. So, I thought no one else deserved the reference Ekpo ka ekpo in our community more than than Dr. Nwosu himself. The same Dr. Nwosu, has been referring to yours truly as “Honorable Peter” for as long as I can remember, and that goes back to when we did not know much about each other, as we do today perhaps. Dr. Nwosu has never ceased using the word “honorable” in reference to me. Ever since he began referring to me as such, I have had no sense whatsoever that he intends to be comical when he calls out to me as such. I observed that such was his preference, if only because he likes the one he so refers or he regard for him or both.
There is not much I have to say about Maazi Promise Igbokwe. Promise and I are friends, and for two unique reasons. First - Promise is the only one I know among our folks here that is familiar with my other side – my mother’s side. Promise knows my mother’s hometown in Obudu, in Cross River State and some of my prominent uncles and cousins. Promise knows Obudu so well that he tells me stories about the town that rings true to my ears, having heard same stories as a child. Second, Promise and I were among the few youngsters I know today that experienced the rain and fire of war in Biafra upfront. Apart from my childhood war hero Emeka Nwokeji – Stagger Lee, there is no other around here but Promise, with whom I share intimate war stories some of which makes us tear up, and cry sometimes.
Each time I recall the formation of the once vibrant but now extinct Imo Boston Organization, I think of key pioneers among us of that organization - Abians especially – Dr. Amos Nwosu, Dr. Godwin Otuechere, Promise Igbokwe, Emmanuel Mecha, Emmanuel Uko, John Nwachukwu and others I cannot recall. We were successful then in the main because of the Abians and committed present day Imolites, that were not about chicanery. I never forget Maazi Uko’s demonstration of the Abiriba war dance on the first day of Imo Boston outing in 1992 at MIT. His performance remains to date, in my opinion, the toughest act to follow – as far as Abiriba war dance performed in Boston.
Today, I find among Abians pleasant personalities like Maazi Ray Otudor; young Maazi Odim Ugah; Chima Chukwu, Gabriel Azubuike, Nnanna Okereke, Alamba etc., folks around whom one is always pleased to be.
I have always found best friends, associates or acquaintance amongst Abians. They find me or I find them. Unknown to me then and up till recently, there were many reasons to like the folks now known as Abians, and that includes their umu ada. Yes, their umu ada. Consider that my first girlfriend was nwa ada Abia.
But here are the fundamental of my endearment and appreciation of Abians, beyond their natural friendly disposition.
Abians are doers;
Abians are do-what-needs-to-be-done kind of people;
Abians are let’s-get-cracking kind of people;
Abians are let’s get it done kind of people;
ABIANS are DO IT PEOPLE.
is nothing my nature welcomes more than get-it-done mindset. If you do not get it done, and can’t get it done or refuse to get it done – whatever it is, for whatever reason – personal or public – humanity is the worse for it. That means, each of us as a group or as individuals contribute to advancement of humanity, when we get it done – and that is taking care of whatever there is to do, taking care of business, as Americans our hosts would put it. Do it.
Locally, nothing represents the Abia DO IT mentality than the very organization from which I was proud to receive the community award given me. Abia American Association. The mark that Abia American Association has made in the Boston and greater Massachusetts arena since it came into being is there for all to see.
Abia American Association is the envy of the rest in the state of Massachusetts. Abia American Association is an organization that leads, while others follow. Abia American Association is consistently consistent; Abia American Association’s tradition has stood firm and stable over the years. The evidence is the flawless execution of Abia American Association’s traditional programs namely: the Annual “Abia Gala Night”, the Abia Annual Summer Picnic, and the joyful gathering for all children and adults – the Abia Christmas Party. These traditional programs of Abia American Association have stood the test of time and remain today, the envy of all and sundry. Everyone looks forward to these annual Abia American Association’s events to come to pass just as sure as the sun shall rise from the east. Such is the stuff a great organization and a great people. DO IT people. Abians.
When I say Abia folks are Do It people, I think of Igbo greats of Abia origin and what they did for Igbo and symbolized for Igbo. I think of Major General Johnson Thomas Umunnakwe Aguiyi Ironsi - the first Nigerian Major General; the first commander of the Nigerian army; the first African Commander of UN forces; I think of Dr. Michael Iheonukara Okpara, the inimitable premier of the former eastern region – whose reign saw eastern region as the fastest growing economy in the whole of Africa; the giant intellect Professor Eni Njoku – first Chancellor of University of Lagos; Prof. Kalu Ezera a foremost academic and minister; and recently Chief Chekwas Okorie, the one and only Oje Ozi NdiiIgbo, 4th Nigerian republic founder and builder of one time authentic Igbo political party – the defunct APGA, and yet founder of the newly registered United Progressive Party –UPP – that is sure to be the political umbrella for Igbo and Nigerian progressives. Chekwas Okorie is the quintessence of the Abia do it spirit. I think of Abiriba/Ohafia warriors; the Aros – the quintessential Igbo. The picture gets clearer how Abians stark up among their Igbo bretheren.
When war was thrust upon Igbo, old Imo then which included the present Abia, called it their war, and long before the guns started blazing and Ogbunigwe began exploding, Abiriba warriors were already in the north chopping off heads in Lagos and Hausa lands, it was reported. Who knew what was what then? We believed. Such was Abia spirit. Do It People .
I began to think that one reason why I was honored was my closeness to Abians and involvement invited or not at most things Abians do. But I feel at home among Abians. It is such that I have been allowed the honor to partake in their ceremonies and even master important event in their community, one of which was the celebration of the life of a member of Nigeria’s nay the World’s Greatest Generation – Maazi Luke Igbokwe, the father of our own Maazi Promise Igbokwe.
I could not end this appreciation and reminiscences of my closeness and identification with all things Abia, without mentioning those responsible for the light in my head otherwise intellect – to any extent I so possess – shaped in my formative years. They were all Abians.
Our parents and guardians drill into us moral compass right in our homes; matters of right and wrong - that guides us through life. Great teachers such as I had at Comprehensive Secondary School Aba took off with us, where our parents and guardians stopped to mold us impossible imps we were then. My teachers were men who cared so much for us, when we did not know what care meant. How frustrating it sure was for our teachers, always trying to guide us imps, only to observe we did always the opposite of what they expected of us. These great men, as many of them as my memory can recall – formed my intellectual foundation. Mr. Uko - English Literature; Mr. Agua – Religion; Mr. Nwosu – History; Mr. Nwokeukwu (alias Cogent) – English; Mr. Ali – Nature Studies; Mr. Amaechi – Mathematics – was I a pain to Mr. Amaechi who doubled as our Class Master; and I the class prefect; Mr. Arungwa - Principal.
I just have to say that much of what my intellectual life is today is rooted in the foundation given me in Abia, by Abians. So, it can truly be said that my closeness to Abia and Abians is rooted and concrete; it is no fluff.
I thank Dr. Godwin Otuechere, president of Abia American Association, and applaud his keen insight. Dr. Otuechere certainly was not aware prior to the award to me, how deep was my association with Abia and Abians. But here we are.
I thank the entire members of Abia American Association, who equally and surely might not have been aware that I had been much close to Abia and Abians than they might have known; I thank the entire members of Abia community wherever they may be – at home and abroad.
The award cements a relationship that began when all of us present here today did not even know each other; it cement a relationship that has endured in love, truth and understanding.
Nde Abia, ekele m unu o; ndeewo nu o…mman ma nu o.
May the Almighty bless and keep us.
November 17, 2012
*Masterweb Launches Mobile Channel And RSS News Feed
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*Was Chief Obafemi Awolowo An Awoist? Musings To Okey Ndibe
By Uchenna Osigwe
Clever people are not credited with their follies: what a deprivation of human rights! — Friedrich Nietzsche
Hate him or love him, chief Awolowo is a figure to be reckoned with in Nigerian politics in general, and in his fiefdom, the south west, in particular. And it’s going to be like that for a very, very long time to come. If you’re in the south west, you don’t mess with Awo. If in doubt, ask the immediate past governor of Lagos state, Bola Ahmed Tinubu. For many people from the south west of Nigeria, saying that Awolowo might possibly have done ANYTHING wrong is like telling Muslims and Christians that their founders might have done anything wrong. Awo, as he’s fondly called, entered the Yoruba pantheon long before he breathed his last. I mean a man whom thousands, if not millions believed to have seen in the moon is nothing less than a god. Again, that’s going to remain like that for a very long time—I would even say as long as children believe that Santa is the one who sends them their xmas gifts! Yes, for the many, the man fondly called Awo is the one who made the impossible possible, literally: think of sound economic policies, free education, free healthcare, ethnic pride, and generally la joie de vivre associated with the man we’ve all come to recognize as the sage. For the more mature mind, all these qualities have crystallized into Awoism, and they proudly call themselves awoists. In the brief history of Nigeria, the only other person that has come close to receiving something remotely like the reverence Awo receives is Buhari…
No progressive in Nigeria, and most of Africa, can afford to take the name of Awo, or awoism, in vain. But what is awoism?
It’s a tragedy that our histories aren’t taught in our schools. There’s no other way to put it! Every educated Nigerian should know everything that is humanly possible to know about our founding fathers, most notably Ahmadu Bello, Nnamdi Azikiwe, and Obafemi Awolowo. It is in studying these figures that we could understand how our country was founded, what each contributed in making it big, small or mediocre, and learn from them. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Reading, in general, sounds like a bad word in Nigeria. Reading our History fares even worse! Let me say that we can never develop as a country unless we find out who we are. And the only way to do that is to study our history, especially our pre-colonial history. But I digress a little.
Awolowo’s name was so dominant in Nigeria that as I grew up, I read what the man himself said and what other said of him. I believed the man more than I believed his commentators and his critics. And so I’ve always associated Awolowo with progress and progress with awoism. Awoism is something roughly close to what we know today as liberalism, a philosophy articulated by the British philosopher John Locke. That philosophy is the foundation of what we know today as liberal democracy, practiced mostly in the western part of our globe, albeit with a few variations. Among his public contemporaries, Awo was the one who articulated that philosophy most brilliantly. He not only articulated it, he also practiced it when he had the opportunity. So, to give credit to whom it is due, we call our Nigerian version of that philosophy Awoism. The state Awo ran had a slightly higher standard of living than most western democracies. (It’s an irony of fate that some of these Western powers suspected awoism to be a version of communism). ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Chief Obafemi Awolowo
Going by his writings and his parties’ manifestos, Awo wanted to enthrone a progressive welfare state. An awoist state would be one in which people are truly free in body, mind and spirit, the people freely choose their leaders, everybody goes to school for free and to the highest level of her/his natural ability, a living-wage-paying-job would not be a privilege but a right of every citizen and those unable to work, (for genuine reasons), would have their basic needs met by the state, there would be no capital punishment in such a state. In short, Awolowo wanted to enthrone a very progressive state in which there would be no destitution—material and spiritual. He was able to put some of those policies into practice as premier of the Western Region. I believe that is responsible for his pervasive popularity in the region. And, indeed, he was bent on doing same for all the country. He was so convinced of that, and for good reasons one must add, that he was willing to take over power via a military coup, and this was the reason he was tried and sentenced to jail for treason. In other words, he made a very personal sacrifice for the good of humanity as he understood it.
Awo not only had the idea, he also knew how to actualize and sustain it. Consequently, he was a suave administrator. His administrative prowess is yet to be surpassed in Nigeria on any large scale. Again, Buhari and Idiagbon got slightly close… Awolowo’s progressive ideas are still valid for Nigeria. In fact, given that Nigeria today is held hostage by a clique of organized crooks running a very efficient kleptocracy, those ideas have what Dr. Martin Luther King called the ‘fierce urgency of now.’
So far so good; very good indeed.
But then we get to a point where we need to ask if Awo didn’t deviate from his lofty ideals. And this has been a bone of contention between those who consider themselves Yoruba and Igbo. For me it happened long before the present controversy following Chinua Achebe’s latest book (more on that shortly). It happened when I listened to Awo in his own voice, speaking when he was 74 and campaigning to be ‘Nigerian’ president. The tape was posted on an internet portal (with transcripts), immediately after the death of Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu. In that town hall style campaign, Awo owned up to the ‘starvation as a weapon of war’ policy even though Gowon—in whose government he served—has always denied it. He also referred to the ‘secessionists’ as his enemies, and added that he doesn’t see why he should be feeding his enemies for them to be fighting harder. Those words were very revealing. Ever since then, I’ve been asking myself if it was the Awo I knew, the one about whom I wrote that it was a tragedy that he was not the president of Nigeria, or another Awo? It has been very troubling: is it possible—who would believe it!—that Awo wasn’t really an Awoist? I didn’t need Achebe’s latest book to know it’s a huge problem. For me it’s really straightforward: If Awo was a progressive whose main aim was to wipe out destitution, how come he was celebrating destitution by refusing to allow international donor agencies to take food and relief materials to those in need? Let us remember that even though Biafra lost the military combat, she won the propaganda war. Millions of people were demonstrating all over the world in solidarity with the suffering masses of Biafra. Steve Jobs renounced his Christianity to protest the ignominious part that supposedly Christian countries like Britain were playing in the conflict, and one American student set himself on fire in protest. Mr. Bruce Mayrock was a 20 year-old a part-time student of Columbia University who went outside the United Nations Headquarters with a sign that read: “you must stop genocide - please save nine million Biafrans.” With that he set himself on fire and later died of the burns he sustained therefrom. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Prof. Chinua Achebe
Compassion, anthropologists tell us, is the first sign of civilization among homo sapiens. Awoism is worth nothing if it’s reactionary or supports destitution instead of being proactively humane. Unfortunately, that was what it was at that crucial point in our nation’s history. True, Awo didn’t cause the starvation in the east. But he sadistically feasted on it and did everything in his power to prolong it, advancing ludicrous arguments for doing so. An Awoist would be keenly interested in saving people’s lives first and foremost. You can blame them later, but do all in your power to save their lives first. This is one of the reasons why an Awoist would never support the death penalty. On this score, Awolowo failed lamentably. That is why the “Starvation as a weapon of war” policy is as championed by Awo is simply tragic! How about inspecting all relief materials to make sure they didn’t conceal weapons before sending them to those in need? The Biafrans didn’t surrender because their soldiers were starving. They surrendered because they couldn’t get weapons from any of the world’s suppliers, while their ‘Nigerian’ counterparts had a steady supply of the best weapons. Both Britain and The Soviet Union supplied weapons to Nigeria and ensured that more small arms were used against Biafra during the 30 months war than were used in the five years of World War II.Why was Awo so callous in his statements? Was it because he believed the victims were his enemies?
But, one, Ndigbo, whether soldiers or civilians, rich or poor, were not Awo’s enemies. The original problem was between Ndigbo and the Hausa Fulani and their minions like Gowon. Awo just inserted himself into the problem for a rather personal reason to which I’ll return in a moment. Two, and most troubling: for a man who has devoted the greater part of his life to abolishing destitution to be overtly supporting destitution is simply incredible. What led a fine mind such as Awo’s to such a callous blunder? Before I get to that, let me say that I could imagine the ‘less educated’ northern oligarchs chuckling as they watched the ‘more educated’ southerners kill themselves, starvation and all! The argument that there were Igbos in the Biafran enclave who cornered the few food and relief materials that managed to trickle in sounds jejune. How many of those greedy people are now cornering food and relief materials? There are greedy people everywhere, in war and in peace time. The difference is that in war it becomes so conspicuous because almost everyone is in need. During fuel scarcity, there are also those who hoard the product. Should that be the reason for the government to deny sending it to those in need?
Achebe had written on page 233 of his latest book, “There Was a Country: A Personal History of Biafra:” "It is my impression that Awolowo was driven by an overriding ambition for power, for himself and for his Yoruba people. There is, on the surface at least, nothing wrong with those aspirations. However, Awolowo saw the dominant Igbos at the time as the obstacles to that goal, and when the opportunity arose—the Nigeria-Biafra war—his ambition drove him into a frenzy to go to every length to achieve his dreams. In the Biafran case it meant hatching up a diabolical policy to reduce the numbers of his enemies significantly through starvation — eliminating over two million people, mainly members of future generations."
Okey Ndibe has speculated in his piece title “Achebe’s Acts of Memory" (Nigeria Village Square, 22 October 2012) that in writing the above, Achebe was indulging in ‘speculative overreach.’ Okey commands the English language better than many people command their footsteps. But in this instance, he’s the one indulging in ‘speculative overreach’ because there’s nothing speculative about what Achebe said. The old man was simply stating the facts as they are, even though he called them his ‘impression.’ Achebe indeed provided the answer to the puzzle in the same passage: Awo had come to see the Igbo elite as an obstacle to his aim of rallying ‘his people.’ Read your history and you’ll see that as early as 1952, Zik’s party, the NCNC, had won enough seats in the election that could have enabled him to become the first premier of the Western Region. Zik, ever the dreamer, with his philosophy of ‘One Nigeria,’ wasn’t as ethnically minded as Awo. Awo worked very hard to reverse that momentum, organizing the widely reported carpet crossing in Ibadan. Some have argued that the crossing wasn’t directly from the NCNC but rather from its allies. Whatever the case, Awo engineered a change of course for which he was the principal beneficiary. That Awo did this by appealing to ethnicity is plausible. However, anyone who concludes that from that point on, or even earlier, that he saw the so-called Igbo elite as a threat to his own political ambition should not be accused of speculative overreach. Zik, despite all his failings, was bent on detribalizing Nigeria with the mindset of Julius Nyerere who made sure that Tanzania is the most detribalized country in Africa. But the ‘Carpet Crossing’ that happened in Ibadan in 1952 struck a fatal blow to ‘One Nigeria.’ The country is yet to recover from that blow! It’s not implausible to think that if the carpet crossing didn’t happen, the civil war might not have happened because the northern oligarchs would have thought twice before attacking nationals from a united south. “Clever people are not credited with their follies: what a deprivation of human rights!” says the great Nietzsche.
When Awo died, Odumegwu Ojukwu called him “The best president Nigeria never had.” It’s one of the most misunderstood phrases in modern Nigeria, even after Ojukwu elaborated on it thus:
“Nigeria must continually regret that he never, for many reasons, had the opportunity to serve at the presidential level. That he did not fulfill a presidential ambition cannot detract from his leadership, and us, poor us, who were not his people, must continue to regret that our own leaders had not led us as he did his people or achieved for us as he did for his people.”
There’s basically nothing different from what Ojukwu said here and what Achebe said in his latest book. It is simply a matter of semantics. And I am surprised that many well known writers and professional grammarians simply miss Achebe’s point here. When Achebe said ‘for his Yoruba people,’ he was not talking about the Yoruba as a group. The focus is still on Awo and Yoruba in the sentence is passive. Many Yorubas would readily agree with Awo that he did most of what he did for them, but not all Yorubas saw Awo as their champion. So, Ojukwu and Achebe were saying the same thing. But where Achebe said Awo did what he did “for himself and for his Yoruba people,” Ojukwu, who was more politically minded, simply said “for his people.” But Awo’s fans applauded Ojukwu because he added that Awo was “the best president Nigeria never had.” But if you look more carefully at what Ojukwu said, it’s not really different from what Achebe just said in his latest book.
When Ojukwu said that “poor us, who were not his people,” must regret that we didn’t have anybody to achieve for us what he achieved ‘for his people,’ he was basically calling Awo a regional cum ethnic leader. And that is how historians all over the world who are interested in Nigerian politics see Awo. Ojukwu said there were ‘many reasons’ for which Awo remained the best president Nigeria never had. What Ojukwu was saying implicitly was that there were Nigerians who were not ‘Awo’s people.’ I have written elsewhere (http://www.nigeriavillagesquare.com/articles/uchenna-osigwe/ken-saro-wiwa-in-the-light-of-jaja-and-awolowo.html) that it is a tragedy that Awolowo never became the president of Nigeria. My position hasn’t not changed; but now I wish to add that the man himself must also take responsibility for that tragedy. Again, no matter what the commentariat says, Achebe wasn’t talking of the Yoruba as a group. He’s too wise for such a blunder. Rather he was talking of Awo’s ambition as a leader of the Yoruba. These are two distinct things. After all, as I already pointed out, there are Yorubas who don’t accept Awo’s leadership, even if they constitute a minority.
So, let us remember, before we condemn Achebe, that an Igbo would have occupied the seat of power in Ibadan before any Yoruba had the chance to do so, but for the deft political manoeuvring of Awo. He probably said, after successfully fighting off Zik’s political machine: never again! In Nigeria, ethnicity is a very strong issue. And Awo, better than Zik, understood that all politics is local. So by appealing to their ethnic pride, Awo was able to get a majority of the Yoruba on his side. I leave it to the reader to judge what that singular political manoeuvring did to ethnic relations in Nigeria and particularly in the southern part of the country. It’s a problem we’re still struggling with as all the Igbo-Yoruba reactions to Achebe’s latest book would readily testify.
As for the charge of overriding ambition for power, let us note that a civilian who agrees to be a major beneficiary of a military coup d’état must have a great deal of political ambition! And, of course, when the opportunity presented itself, he grabbed it, becoming the second in command in the military government of Gowon.
It is worth remarking that Awo’s participation in the Gowon government was the closest he got to the seat of federal power. And he was quite close. What he did he do with that power? He decided to designate people whom his kinsmen Wole Soyinka, Tai Solarin et al rightly noted were victims of genocide, his enemies! He enthusiastically championed the ‘hunger as an instrument of war policy,’ and the ‘20 pounds insult.’ In other words, the period in which Awo had real federal power was also the period he was so far from his own hitherto avowed ideals that one can’t help asking if he was a true Awoist himself. A finance minister who oversees a policy that gives people who had thousands or millions in the bank a paltry 20 pounds of their hard earned money should, at the very least, resign for dereliction of duty, that’s one of the ideals of awoism. But Awo defended that policy!!! I’m sure that if Awo was true to his ideals when he was the de facto prime minister in Nigeria, Ojukwu would not have lamented that there were some Nigerians who were not ‘Awo’s people.’ (It’s also possible that the‘20 pounds insult’ is at the root of the craze by Nigerians to stash their wealth, ill gotten or legitimate, overseas)! “Clever people are not credited with their follies,” says the great Nietzsche!
Where does this leave us? I suggest that we begin the process of healing. Both Ojukwu and Achebe acknowledged Awo’s greatness. And so do I. But I don’t think anybody, no matter her/his ethnic affiliation, would in all honesty and sincerity support the callousness Awo exhibited during and after the war against the Other. Awoists simply have to accept that fact for their own good. They can thus highlight Awo’s starling qualities with a loving heart. No amount of spin can change a fact. As the Latinists say, argumentum contra factum non valet. We simply need to stop calling a spade a mortar. There is work to be done!
An American interlocutor once told me that unless the Igbos and the Yorubas, the dominant groups in the south of Nigeria, get their act together, they will continue to play second fiddle to the northern oligarchs. I want to emphasize that there are progressive elements in every ethnic group in the country. So, I would substitute ‘northern oligarchs’ with the PDP which is the current incarnation of the NPN. We have seen it happen again and again. For instance, the mandate Nigerians from Potiskum to Port Harcourt, from Kano to Kwale, gave to Abiola was stolen from him and given to Obasanjo because Abiola was said to be unacceptable to the oligarchs. The same thing has happened to Buhari a number of times, and may yet happen again. We urgently need to move beyond divisive ethnicity! And we need to stop celebrating the induced starving of millions, irrespective of their ethnic affiliations.
There are many progressives from the 4 corners of the Niger River. It’s time for them to get together and set a really progressive agenda for the next generation of Nigerians. In order to do that effectively, we need to eschew negative tribalism, ethnicity, and regionalism which run very deep in the Nigerian psyche. When religion is added into that negativity, it reaches epidemic proportions. If it could affect a mind as fine as Awo’s, any wonder it has been the most potent tool for the oligarchs in oppressing the people and keeping them oppressed? For some to say that aiding in starving millions of people to death is acceptable is horrific. When Abiola’s mandate was stolen in broad daylight, some people justified it based on those denominators. And hundreds of lives were lost. One loquacious information minister even told Abiola to go and commit suicide—for winning a free and fair election! Elections are continuously and blatantly rigged; and some keep justifying it, again, based on those denominators. It is time we confront those demons head on. If Achebe’s book helps us in doing that, then it might have served a great purpose, despite some of the gaps it leaves.
In order to do this effectively, we need to accept the facts of the matter under discussion. One, that a great injustice was done to the people of eastern Nigeria who were killed so callously in the north, only for them to go back and lose millions. Pretending otherwise would be simply dishonest. Two, Ndigbo should look beyond the war and realize that no matter what happens, even if they succeed in retaliating in kind, nothing would bring back the lost ones. Evidently looking beyond the genocide is difficult given the continued official denial. But for their own good they’ve to let the past be past. Going through life as a victim is tantamount to self victimisation.
I believe these steps, and more, will bring us the necessary healing we need so that we can put the past behind us and move forward to face the ‘fierce urgency’ that is facing us. We have great individuals in our midst who can really lead this nation with distinction. Achebe argued elsewhere that the problem with Nigeria is squarely that of leadership. That may be the case, but it naively abstracts our collective history. When did this leadership crisis start? Our ancestors didn’t experience that crisis. That crisis started when some foreign fortune seekers forced themselves on us with their superior military power. And when when progressives like Zik and Awo told them to go, they went but left mediocrity in charge.
For so long we have left our fate in the suffocating embrace of mediocrity. Let us begin to close ranks and aim for excellence. Let us begin the healing process.
*How Times Change and Yet Humans Who Operate With Time Do Not Change
By Chris Onyishi
It is amazing that what has dominated foreign press for the past 72 hours now is that the Duchess of Cambridge is less than 12 weeks pregnant and that she has been admitted in a London hospital for early morning sickness. One beautiful thing about this is that there is a hospital in London where she is being treated. But I am not very sure now whether an average Briton will get treatment in such hospital. One other beautiful thing about this story is that some of us now learn late though that when women are pregnant, they should be taken to hospital to be treated for what is called an early morning sickness. I will have to apologize to my wife for having not taken very elaborate care of her early morning sicknesses.
But oddly enough, we do not hear of other millions of British women's early morning sicknesses which make me begin to think that early morning sickness could be a special ailment for the monarchy or their own early morning sickness is far more out of the ordinary. Either case, I will still apologize to my wife of four kids who never visited hospitals for any early morning sickness except for usual anti natal visits and even at that we did always consummate it without the next door neighbor being aware of it.
That aside, if our own celebrities in Nigeria and most African states (and I mean our politicians and so called elder statesmen) will develop our medical facilities to such a point where they will no longer migrate abroad for medical details of any kind, we would have come off age even if mortals like my humble self won't be allowed to have treatment there. What we would be saving will be capital flight in the form of paying for medical treatment abroad in foreign currencies and in the form of paying for tickets and allowances of people like Bamanga Turkur the Chairman of the Biggest Party in Africa who would be flooding abroad (either for their medical checkups and treatments or to visit their comrades in arm who are receiving treatments) with retinue of aids and party men just as they did recently when they trooped out to felicitate with Gov. Suntai Dambaba of Taraba State in the North East state of Nigeria.
I admire Great Briton indeed. Even in very austere times (when about 30% of Europe is grappling with recession), their people and their press still have enormous time and resources to celebrate and talk about frivolous things. And if you see how the British government juggles their law and panel bit legislations to accommodate who gets in the line of succession to the monarchy, you will be mostly amazed. Is this monarchy the sole of England and by extension that of Europe? They moved from Kings to Queens and now to anything provided the successor comes from one family. My question is: why is the principle of democracy not applied to this Monarchy of a thing if it won't go away entirely?
There are monarchies elsewhere (in Belgium, Spain, etc,) but the rest of us are spared their idiosyncrasies. After the dissolution of the British Empire, and subsequently, the collapse of most monarchies, Great Britain craftily shrunk her own and introduced what it called Commonwealth of Nations so that it will continue to subjugate her former colonies. Today, Britons are not citizens but subjects of the Monarch and you have a situation where public servants take oath of allegiance to the British crown. The Monarch uses her royal prerogative to subtly subvert parliamentary activities at certain occasions which I earnestly think is an abuse of power but the most perplexing thing of all is that most Britons do not even think about all these. Instead, troop out in royal weddings and other suppressive activities of the Monarch waving their Union Jack. Some even had to sleep for days in tents along the path to have a glimpse of Kate and Williams lavish wedding last year. ( Continues below….. )
Photo Above: Map of the world as a globe
It was widely reported that Kate and Williams wedding, last year 2011, took away nothing less than 64 million pounds from British taxpayers last year. Couldn't that amount have been shared to very poor people in one corner of Europe? Even if it was not going to be shared out on charity to orphanages, should the less privileged not have been spared the psychology of stupendous fanfare in the face of hopelessness? A look at the stupendous allocation of funds to the Monarchy in Britain marvels any rational human being and yet Britons do not think about it.
The argument from Monarch specialists and proponents is that the monarchy attracts wealth to Britain by way of tourism. They claim that people who troop to Britain on yearly bases to see the institution of monarchy contribute to the wealth of Great Britain. But it is also a fact that all the tourist attractions in the whole of the Middle East is not because Jesus Christ and St. Peter and Haggai and Abraham and Sarah and Isaac are still there. It is not because Joseph and the Jews are still living under one Pharaoh in Egypt. People troop to those areas because the relics of that era stand there as monuments to remind the modern people of what happened in the medieval times.
So, if the relics of the English Monarchy are maintained, it is still enough to attract tourists to Great Britain without regular and occasional wastes in the form of Royal Weddings and other royalties. I know of a place named a point of no return in Badagari in Nigeria. A lot of people, including my humble self, have visited there to see the artifacts and relics of slavery but I did not go there expecting to see the last boat carting my people away to America for slavery.
I went to the point of no return in Badagry with the mind of seeing what injustices my people had to go through for the sake of sustaining plantations in America and monarchies in Europe such as the one still thriving in Great Britain. Directly and indirectly now and then, African resources are what is being used to sustain the supper structures in Europe and Americas. So consequentially, whenever resources are depleted to flaunt idiosyncrasies of the British Monarchy, Africans bleed for it.
That there are fratricidal wars around the globe today has a lot of connection with the attitudes and behaviors of the so called civilized worlds. And the politicians, just like some Monarchies, around these civilized counties collude to fuel the amber of discord so as to keep open the conduit of resource flow from those underdeveloped nations to their own country. But what is still not visible to oppressors around the world is that when resources of the world as is freely given by GOD are fairly evenly distributed, most restiveness in the world that are economic in nature will die a natural death. Additional affluence which will only be as a result of ingenuity on the side of some inventors and very creative people will not steer any societal upheavals that will engender wars.
People recognize others who are superior to them brain-wise and do not wink an eye lid when they see them in a reasonable affluence over them. The spleen to cheat and or commit societal crimes only arises when the so called politicians who are not good enough live in opulence over and above the more creative individuals and the labor force. In Nigeria, for instance, University Professors are poorer than Local government Chairmen .
There may still be some differences brought about by tribal and religious bigots, but if there is sufficient justice, those differences may not usually manifest in the form of wars. They will take the shades of caste or social classes but they may never have the impetus to ignite wars.
A lot of people will not see what I am seeing now but I do remember that the tax on royal inheritances started not too long ago. If a commoner in Britain had muted the idea of introducing inheritance tax in Britain in the early sixties, he would have been lynched on the street of Liverpool. In the same vein I know that the thickness of the skin of Monarchy as it is being practiced today in Great Britain will thin out with time and until then we may not see any mitigation of the economic induced wars of atrocities going on in all fronts in all corners of the globe which are all directly or indirectly related to oppressions of one form or the other.
Chris Onyishi (firstname.lastname@example.org)
*Governor Obi Tastes Students’ Food As Bishop Expresses Surprise
Masterweb Reports – Monday, December 3, 2012: In continuation of his tour of all the Secondary schools, returned by Anambra State government to their original owners, Governor Obi yesterday toured another six schools namely Girls Secondary School, Oba; Girls Secondary School, Onitsha; Comprehensive Secondary School, Onitsha; Dennis Memorial Secondary School, Onitsha; St. Monica’s Secondary School, Ogbunike and Ogidi Girls' Secondary School. At each of the schools, he tasted their food, visited their refectory, conveniences and other facilities and gave them N10 million Cheque each out of the N20 Million they will get for the rehabilitation of the schools for 2012.
Obi said he could have easily delegated his Commissioners to tour these Schools but he decided to do it on his own in order to see firsthand the state of these schools to determine the extent of support the government would continue to render to them.
He expressed general satisfaction on the neatness of those schools but regretted how government ran them down after taking over from the Missionaries. With apologies, he assured that government must continue to do everything possible until the schools are returned to their former glory. He also expressed satisfaction that there is marked improvement since the schools were returned to the Missionaries. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Gov. Peter Obi handing over N10m cheque to Bishop on the Niger, Most Rev. Dr. Owen Nwokolo yesterday, for the rehabilitation work at Girls' Secondary School, Onitsha, being first of 20 million Naira for rehabilitation of schools in Anambra State.
In his own remarks, the Anglican Bishop on the Niger, Most Rev. Dr. Owen Nwokolo, who accompanied the Governor to those Schools, expressed surprise that a Governor could make out time In Nigeria of today where governance has been bastardized to visit schools, taste students’ food and personally access the infrastructure in the schools. The Bishop commended the Governor for his interest in all the sectors, especially his partnership with the Church to restore education and improve health care delivery. He said that however the situation that what kept recurring was Governor Obi’s genuine interest in the development of Anambra State.
He recalled that the governor had earlier provided schools in the State with computers, Internet access, and buses; provided them with boreholes, generators and above all, equipped their laboratories. He assured the Governor that the Church will continue to remember him in prayers.
In her own remarks, the Anambra State Commissioner for Education, Dr, Mrs. Uju Okeke described Obi’s government as a glorious era for the State. She said that the level of development in the State could only be achieved by no other person than Governor Obi who she said was exceptionally committed to making the State the number one in Nigeria. She commended the Governor’s prudence which she said made it possible for the level of development to be achieved.
*How Onitsha, Ogbaru & Ogidi PHCN Defraud Consumers Of Billions
1. Honourable (Hajiya) Zainab Ibrahim Kuchi
Minister of State for Power
The Federal Ministry of Power
4th Floor, Federal Secretariat Complex
Shehu Shagari Way, Maitama District
2. Dr. Sam Amadi
Chairman of the Board
Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission
NERC Headquarters, Adamawa Plaza
Plot 1099, First Avenue
Off Shehu Shagari Way
Central Business District
Abuja, FCT, Nigeria
Dear Madam Minister & Chairman NERC,
A Special Report
Multi-Billion Naira Fraud In Onitsha, Ogbaru & Ogidi Business Units Of The Power Holding Company Of Nigeria In Anambra State: Ogbaru Business Unit As Our Case-Study
Above subject matter refers.
General Background Information:
(Onitsha-Nigeria, 3rd December 2012)-It is the information of the leadership of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law that the Ogbaru and the Ogidi Business Units were carved out of the Onitsha Business Unit of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria sometime in 2011 as part of the ongoing power sector reform in Nigeria. As you know, the PHCN was a successor public company to NEPA (National Electric Power Authority) which succeeded the ECN (Electricity Company of Nigeria). The PHCN also is being succeeded by DISCOS including the Transmission Company of Nigerian PLC and the Enugu Power Distribution Company PLC, which inherits the three Business Units above mentioned.
It is our further information that the three Business Units of Onitsha, Ogbaru and Ogidi are the largest Business Units in the Southeast Nigeria. Another larger Unit is the Aba Business Unit and its “junior” units possibly carved out in 2011 as well. Under Onitsha Business Unit, there are large and densely populated residential and industrial cities like Fegge, Onitsha GRA, Odoakpu/Inland Town, Nsugbe, Nkwerre- Ezunaka, Woliwo & Omagba Layouts, etc. Under Ogbaru Business Unit, there are Iyiowa Odekpe Layout/Ogbeukwu Village, Harbour Industrial Estate, Odo Rubber and Onwuasoanya Layouts, Nkutaku and Mkpikpa Layouts and Okpoko urban Community (the largest and most densely populated low cost city in the Southeast Nigeria).
Under Ogidi Business Unit, there are Awada Layout (a sub-city with largest number of high rising buildings in the Southeast Nigeria), Ugwuagba Layout, Nkpor, Ogidi and Obosi urban Communities, etc. Generally speaking, the three Business Units are substantially populated by those who engage in the exchange of goods and services including traders, artisans and industrialists. Within the revenue contemplation of the PHCN and other socio-economic calculations, substantial revenue potentials abound in the three Business Units. They are also a god mine for the graft practitioners in the PHCN. This has indisputably been the case over the years. From general public views, the most deadly corrupt sub-units in the three Business Units are marketing and distribution departments. While the marketing departments indulge in roguish consumer billing methods, their distribution departments commercialize installation and maintenance of distribution transformers and their accessories.
It is therefore upon the foregoing that this important letter to your two public bodies is predicated. This is in accordance with extant ministerial and statutory powers vested on your two public offices by the Nigerian Electric Power Sector Reform Act of 2005.
Our Case Against The Ogbaru Business Unit:
The Ogbaru Business Unit is presently headed by Engineer E.C. Anyaelesi. He is the Unit‘s second pioneer Business Manager, the first had reportedly been transferred to Owerri zone of the PHCN. In the year 2000/2001, our sister body, the Civil Liberties Organization, Anambra State Branch, under the then leadership of Comrade Emeka Umeagbalasi (present BOT Chairman, Intersociety Nigeria)exposed the monumental corrupt practices in the then Onitsha Distribution of NEPA(as it then was). The crux of the matter then was commercialization of installation and maintenance of distribution transformers as well as extortions arising from maintenance of same including changing of burnt fuses, units, cables and wires and transformer oil. The Iyiowa Odekpe Layout was then adopted as its case-study. The peak of it all was the case of a Catholic Reverend Father who was trapped into paying the then top NEPA (as it then was) officials at its Enugu Zonal office a whopping sum of N1million via a private bank account so as to be given from its warehouse a 500KVA “11” distribution transformer for the Iyiowa Community. At the end, heads rolled including that of one Engineer Agha Aghashi, an AGM for Distribution at the Enugu Zonal Office of the NEPA.
Today, twelve years after, the relevant top marketing and distribution departments’ officials in the Ogbaru Business Unit are at it again by indulging with impunity and utter recklessness in sundry graft practices ranging from roguish consumer billing to abdication of statutory duties and commercialization of the installation and management of the distribution transformers and their accessories. Our main grouses against the marketing and the distribution departments of the Ogbaru Business Unit and by extension, the Onitsha and the Ogidi Business Units are: 1. Issuance of criminal, crazy, unfair and outrageous consumer bills based on criminal estimates usually N4, 500/N5, 000.00 monthly per three-bedroom flat apartment for high rising buildings or N5, 000.00 per four rooms in bungalows (in some cases per room or two rooms). This is whether or not the affected areas are in perpetual or erratic outages. 2. Rejection of part payments or payments made in the banks with a view to enriching themselves privately through criminal disconnections of consumers’ power lines.
Others are: 3. Abandonment of, and refusal to read the existing post payment metering bills. 4. Hording and creation of artificial scarcity of new electronic prepayment consumer electronic meters so as to retain their criminal system of extorting and short-changing innocent and social obligation-compliant consumers. 5. Selling through black-market means of some electronic prepayment meters to cutting-corner consumers outside the approved processes. 6. Criminally charging consumers who previously subscribed and paid for prepayment electronic meters (before they were made free with effect from June 1, 2012) the sum of N7, 500.00(N5, 000.00 as installation fee and N2, 500.00 as installation wire cost) as “installation fee” per prepayment electronic meter. 7. Criminal diversion of loads meant for consumers/members of the public to some industrialists for a fee. 8. Epileptic power supply in many parts of the three Business Units on ratio of less than quarter of a day. 9. Abdication of statutory duties or monetization of same where rarely carried out. 10. Creation of artificial load-shedding.
11. Non-provision of distribution transformers to the affected areas and commercialization of their installations when procured by public consumers especially in technical areas that require their inputs. 12. Poor management and maintenance of distribution transformers. 13. Extortion and commercialization of the replacement of the transformers’ accessories. 14. Aiding and abetting illegal power connections. 15. Little or no attention to consumers’ complaints arising from issuance of criminally estimated and outrageous consumers’ bills and transformers’ overloads, their burnt or spoilt accessories, installations and general maintenance and management. 16. Reckless resort to the use of the so-called PHCN licensed contractors especially in the area of installation, repair and maintenance of distribution transformers-a criminal practice that engenders fraud, extortion, bribery and corruption in the PHCN particularly in the three Units under scrutiny. 17. Mass disconnection of residential buildings no matter the insignificant number of the non-bills’ payers in such buildings instead of going after such defaulters.
Facts Of Our Grouses:
Ogbaru Distribution/Undertaking Sub-Units:
In 2011, Honourable Chukwuka Onyema of the Ogbaru Federal Constituency at Nigeria’s House of Reps (as he then was) handed over eight distribution transformers to various electoral wards in the Ogbaru LGA as part of his Federal Constituency Projects, which are captured annually in the Appropriation Act of the Federal Government of Nigeria. Out of these eight distribution transformers, a 300 KVA/33/0.415 transformer was given to the Iyiowa Layout so as to ease the heavy loads of the Iyiowa Market Transformer installed in 1983. Others listed as beneficiaries of the eight transformers were Okpoko IV ( 500KVA), Okpoko V (500KVA), Ogbeukwu (300KVA), Okoti (300KVA), Ogbetiti Odekpe) 300KVA), Atani (300KVA) and Ogbakuba (200KVA). The transformers were given to the affected areas during the national campaigns for the National Assembly Polls held in April 2011.
Consequent upon the handover of the said 300KVA transformer to the Iyiowa Layout consumers, the offices of the Senior Manager for Distribution and the Undertaking Manager at the Onitsha GRA and the Ogbaru offices of the PHCN were approached via a letter from the Iyiowa Electricity Committee for its immediate installation and energization. This was followed by a letter of introduction/assistance addressed to them by Honourable Chukwu Oyema, dated 1st day of July 2011, urging them to effect the installation of the eight transformers including that of Iyiowa Layout. As at then, the Ogbaru Business Unit was still under the Onitsha Business Unit.
Sadly, the two requests were turned down on the flimsy grounds that the PHCN “does not have money, materials and human resources” to install same. The Senior Manager for Distribution at the Onitsha GRA Ridge Road office of the PHCN and his subordinates including the Undertaking Manager at the PHCN Ogbaru area office located on Obodoukwu Road, Okpoko told the Iyiowa Layout consumers through a committee set up to reach out to same for installation that they should wait for the availability of money, materials and personnel or undertake the responsibility of installing the said transformer by way of “community assistance to PHCN”, which they insisted must be committed to writing.
With the latter as the only option available to the consumers who never defaulted in paying their monthly criminally estimated bills, they resolved to embark on the installation of the transformer after they were told by the same PHCN senior staffers that waiting for them would have no end in time. The installation project was started in June 2011 and ended in June 2012, gulping a whopping sum of N2, 092,230 (two million, ninety-two thousands, two hundred and thirty naira). The installation started when the Ogbaru Business Unit was under the Onitsha Business Unit in 2011 and continued into 2012 after it had been created as “a Business Unit”. The senior PHCN staffers, who participated and still participate directly or indirectly in the gross misconducts complained of, are: 1. the former Business Manager for Onitsha Business Unit in 2011, who was transferred to the Enugu Zonal Office. 2. The former pioneer Business Manager for Ogbaru Business Unit in 2011 who was reportedly transferred to Owerri Unit. 3. The Onitsha Senior Manager for Distribution and his subordinates and the Ogbaru Senior Manager for Distribution and his subordinates including his Undertaking Manager. 4. The former Maintenance Manager for Iyiowa area office of the PHCN, who is now at the Ogbaru Business Unit headquarters located on Obodoukwu Road, Okpoko. His name is Mr. Richard Ohadume. 5. The new Business Manager for Ogbaru Unit, Engineer E.C. Anyaelesi. He aids and abets the gross misconducts complained of.
How The 300KVA /33/415/ Was Criminally Installed:
Sequel to an application and request for the installation of the transformer addressed to the Undertaking Manager in-charge of the Ogbaru Undertaking office of the PHCN, dated 6th June 2011, at the forceful instance of the Onitsha Senior Manager for Distribution, the Iyiowa Electricity Committee under the Iyiowa Community Landlords Association decided to bear the cross of installing the transformer on the strength of the rejection of their request by the PHCN. As a result, Mr. Vincent E.O. Nwaeze was introduced to them and certified by the then Maintenance Manager for Iyiowa, Mr. Richard Ohadume and the Ogbaru Undertaking Manager’s office as a “licensed PHCN contractor”. Mr. E.O. Nwaeze goes by a business name ODISON ELECTRICAL SERVICES & COMPANY NIG., of 15, Moore Street, Odoakpu, Onitsha, Anambra State, Nigeria.
The controversial distribution transformer is now referred in the PHCN records as “Abazuonu Iyiowa 300KVA/33/415 substation”. It is located at Abazuonu (New Road) Street by Ihitenasaa Street Junction, Iyiowa Layout, which is in front of the St James Catholic Church Outstation-a next door to the PHCN area office in the area. The Community went through hell so as to source over N2million through levies and free willed donations to install the transformer. Also, getting the relevant PHCN top staffers in the distribution department including their undertaking office to supervise and approve same was hellish. The transformer was energized in June 2012 after 12 months of the commencement of its installation.
Bribery, Extortion, Poor Supervision & Management Of The Substation:
According to a written account presented to the Iyiowa Community by the transformer installation/electricity committee, dated 18th day of September 2012, out of the whopping sum of N2, 092,230 spent, N263, 170 was spent in bribing the above-named top PHCN officials. The committee called it, “NEPA (PHCN) PR”, an acronym for bribery and extortion. Also, the sum of N3, 500.00 was offered to them as bribe so as to obtain an outage from the PHCN transmission station at Uga Junction, Fegge in Onitsha. Our investigation into the bribery and its recipients in the PHCN showed that the former two Business Managers for Onitsha and Ogbaru Business Units who held sway in 2011 as well as the Onitsha and Ogbaru SMDs (Senior Managers for Distribution) and their heads of Undertaking units were reportedly bribed. According to a member of the committee, the former Maintenance Manager for Iyiowa office of the PHCN, Mr. Richard Ohadume coordinated the bribery including his own cut. The only exempted top PHCN official is the new Business Manager for Ogbaru, Engineer E.C. Anyaelesi and his Onitsha counterpart because they were not in office between June 2011 and June 2012.
The committee members told Intersociety that they know other recipients facially and that a sum of N80, 000.00 was paid to the PHCN in June 2012 as bribe before the transformer was energized. According to them, the PHCN licensed contractor named above that handled the project allegedly played a role in identifying the relevant PHCN offices to be watered for a breakthrough. After its installation and energization, the transformer was heavily loaded and poorly managed by the PHCN officials at the Iyiowa Maintenance Office. Intersociety’s further investigation showed that the 300 KVA transformer was heavily loaded with 493 three-bedroom flat apartments comprising Ihitenasaa Street (largest street), Obidike Street, part of Ibekwe Street, part of Ehirim Street, Abazuonu Street (New Road), Okafor Close and Chukwuaku Lane, totaling 493 flats for a 300KVA distribution substation.
A team of electrical engineers contacted by Intersociety for an independent on-the-spot evaluation of the transformer told us expertly that apart from the fact that it was excessively loaded, many accessories used for its installation are of very low quality. Yet the PHCN went and certified them including the load capacity as “okay”. During the brief life span of the transformer (June to September 2012- a period of two months, some nefarious junior staffers of the PHCN Iyiowa Maintenance Office were caught engaging in tapping currents from the transformer to some consumers for a fee. As a result of the foregoing, the transformer sparked and shut down in the middle of September 2012 and since then its 493 flat apartments’ users, who pay monthly the roughly sum of N2.5million to the PHCN on average of N5,000.00 per flat as criminally estimated bills, have been in perpetual darkness with the said PHCN staffers doing nothing.
Intersociety‘s Encounter With The Ogbaru Business Manager:
Sequel to the sad developments enumerated above, the attention of Intersociety was drawn to them particularly the issue of the Abazuonu Iyiowa transformer installation scandal. It is also our discovery that some of the transformers mentioned above, donated to various electoral wards in Ogbaru LGA, have not been installed by the Ogbaru PHCN till date. For example, the 300KVA substation donated to Ogbeukwu village (a low class residence) in Ogbaru is still lying un-installed. Attempts by the Ogbaru PHCN to take it away were reportedly rebuffed. Consequent upon these, we wrote the Business Manager for Ogbaru Business Unit of the PHCN, Engineer E.C. Anyaelesi to draw his attention, formally, to the gross misconducts complained of. The letter was dated 31st day of October 2012. As a result, a meeting was called in his office, which was attended by himself, his marketing manager and senior manager for distribution and other top officials of his Business Unit. Representatives of Intersociety and the Iyiowa Community including the affected consumers were also in attendance. At the meeting, the BM told those in attendance that he resumed as the Ogbaru BM not up to a month and claimed ignorance of most of the sharp practices of his men and women especially those relating to the Iyiowa transformer installation scandal.
However, he acknowledged the existence in his Business Unit of estimated bill culture, which he said arose from “units/target allocations” per Business Unit and its marketing sub-units. He and his marketing manager made futile efforts to justify the criminal impositions, but they were roundly rejected by those in attendance who insisted on energy consumption readings based on post payment or prepayment metering bills since 95% of the consumers in Ogbaru like their counterparts in Onitsha and Ogidi Business Units have post payment electric meters. The BM and his Marketing Manager also claimed that “most of the post payment meters have expired”, a claim roundly rejected with incontrovertible pieces of evidence by those in attendance.
He announced to the meeting, which was held on 7th day of November, 2012 that as a “compensatory” measure, his Business Unit has issued a monthly bill of N500.00 for every flat apartment under his Business Unit for the month of October 2012 because of the flood disaster that shut down all distribution transformers in Iyiowa zone. He called the N500.00 bill “maintenance charge”. The bill was later issued together with that of September 2012 which contained a minimum of N4, 500/N5, 000.00 per flat/four rooms. The meeting also raised the issue of the failed Abazuonu Iyiowa transformer and drew the attention of the BM to a quotation for its repair worth N463, 000.00 given to the affected community by one GERSHON ELECTROTECH SERVICES NIG LTD of N0. 1 Gayius Ezeh by Onitsha-Owerri Road, Awada, Obosi, Anambra State. The said quotation arose when some residents of the affected area led by Mr. Joel Ebele Ezeneobi (Enyi) met with the SMD in September 2012 to draw his attention, formally, to the failed transformer. He (SMD) invited the PHCN licensed contractor to his office and introduced him to them, from where the quotation was written and given to them in his (SMD) presence. This is another clear case of corruption and abdication of statutory duties on the part of the SMD.
The meeting demanded firmly from the BM and his top officials to totally address the gross misconducts complained of, including fixing as a palliative measure the said failed Iyiowa transformer and processing the substantive approval of a 500KVA/33 substation as reinforcement for the area so as to lessen its high load burden. On 8th day of November 2012, Intersociety wrote the Ogbaru BM again on the strength of the outcome of the 7th November meeting and demanded firmly that the Abazuonu Iyiowa Transformer be fixed within seven days so as to end the suffering of the occupants of the 493 flat apartments including nursing mothers and their newly born babies, pregnant women and the elderly who suffer scorching heats, mosquito bites as well as expose their health to environmentally hazardous substances arising from discharging of carbon monoxide from thousands of power generators dotting every nook and cranny of the area and anti mosquito substances. The Business Manager, Engineer E.C. Anyaelesi was also reminded in the said letter that his failure to address the gross misconducts complained of, including sanctioning those involved expressly makes him aider and abettor of same. Sadly and unfortunately too, none of the issues so raised has been frontally addressed, which prompted this important letter to your two public offices.
Our Case Against The Ogbaru PHCN Marketing Unit & Its BM:
In 2006, the total number of three-bedroom flat apartments in Iyiowa Layout comprising the Mission Road down to the Madonna Catholic Church areas of the Layout, was put at 2,800. The downstairs/bungalows as per four rooms per post payment electric meter were 1,500. Today, the number of three-bedroom flats has increased to approximately 4,200 owing to rapid increase in the number of high rising buildings in the Layout. When added to the number of flats in Onwuasoanya and Odo Rubber Layouts which are also under Iyiowa zone, it may be correct to say that there are over 8,000 three-bedroom flat apartments and their equivalents in Iyiowa Zone, fetching the Ogbaru PHCN, crookedly and otherwise, a whopping sum of N40million monthly from the issuance and imposition of criminally estimated bills, on average of N5, 000.00 per flat, which translates into N480million a year. In Okpoko urban Community, Mkpikpa and Nkutaku Layouts all under Ogbaru Business Unit, there may be up to 20,000 flat apartments on the basis of four rooms as metering flat. This is subject to the PHCN discretion because bills or meters can be allocated per room or two-room basis.
Generally speaking, using the estimated billing benchmark of the PHCN, which has been the case for years particularly since January 2011, the consumers under the Ogbaru Business Unit are annually short-changed and defrauded to the tune of over N1billion. This does not include bills imposed on small, medium and large scale industrialists/industries in the areas so mentioned. It is also observed that promotions and punishments of the PHCN staffers in the three Business Units of Onitsha, Ogidi and Ogbaru are now based strictly on their ability or inability to defraud consumers by way of imposition and forceful collection of criminally outrageously estimated monthly bills. There also exists in the said PHCN Units “units allocation targets”, whereby, for instance, if “units target” of N15million is given to the PHCN Iyiowa Marketing Manager monthly, he is now at criminal liberty to allocate 1000 units to every flat apartment in the Iyiowa zone, which may fetch him more than N20million monthly. Once he returns the N15million targets consecutively, he stands the brightest chance of being promoted and rewarded. He is also at criminal liberty to squander the remainder.
This is how the innocent and social obligations-compliant consumers have been short-changed and defrauded over the years by the PHCN Units under reference. These sharp practices are totally responsible for gross misconducts complained of. Those who do not pay are traced, disconnected and forced to pay the reconnection fee of N1000.00 per meter in addition to the payment of the imposed bills given before being reconnected. As a result, post payment meters are not read and their management totally abandoned so also procurement, installation and maintenance of distribution transformers.
Commercialization, Hording & Artificial Scarcity Of Prepayment Electronic Meters:
The introduction of prepayment electronic metering did not go down well with the three Business Units mentioned above. Efforts by way of commercialization, hording or creation of artificial scarcity of same have been made and sustained by the PHCN Units since its introduction. This is because the prepayment e-meter is corruption, bribery, extortion and fraud liquidator. Many, if not most subscribers who paid for it in 2009 and 2010 have not received theirs, while few who have received theirs paid extra N7, 500.00 per prepaid e-meter for its “installation” and “ for special wire for its installation”. For instance, Mr. Arinze (08183298361) of the PHCN Iyiowa Service Station demanded and collected N7, 500.00 from Mr. and Mrs. Onyeozili Chukwuemeka Isaac to install a prepayment electronic meter, which they subscribed and paid for since 2010. The couple runs a business center at No. 13, Ihitenasaa Street, Iyiowa, Odekpe, which goes by name CITADEL COMPUTERS. The e-meter was brought to them from the Ogbaru PHCN office on 20th day of November 2012 and installed on 21st day of November 2012 at their residence, No. 8 Oraifite Street, Odo Rubber Layout, Iyiowa Odekpe.
He claimed that N2, 500 was for its special wire while N5, 000 was for installation fee. Mrs. Onyeozili may be reached via 08181860658 for further information. Mr. Arinze went to the two places on a PHCN motorbike with electrical kits also bearing the insignia of the PHCN. He had earlier in the said second day installed three e-meters at Okpoko at the same charges. In early November, 2012, the 10 three-bedroom flat apartments of No. 10 Onyeagba Street, Odo Rubber Layout, at Iyowa Odekpe, paid a total of N50, 000 to the PHCN technicians from the Ogbaru Business Unit for the installation of their new e-meters on average of N5, 000 per e-meter. The building is a four-storey building. According to Mr. Ikenna Obi (08039580626 or 08175763477), who resides in the building, the PHCN officials are still demanding for another bribe totaling N100, 000 for the entire building before decoding their e-meters for use. Instances such as the forgoing are too numerous to mention.
General Observations: It is our general observation that the 18 grouses listed above against the Ogbaru Business Unit are also our grouses against the Onitsha and the Ogidi Business Units. In other words, the sufferings of innocent consumers in the hands of criminal PHCN officials under the Ogbaru Business Unit are the same sufferings experienced by consumers in Fegge, Odoakpu, Nsugbe, Nkwerre-Ezunaka, Woliwo Layout and Omagba Phase 1 all under the Onitsha Business Unit and; Nkpor, Odume Layout, Obosi, Ogidi, Awada and Ugwuagba Layouts and Omagba Phase 11 all under the Ogidi Business Unit. Cases of criminal negligence, fraud, embezzlement, extortion, bribery and corruption are hereby established against the three Business Units of Onitsha, Ogbaru and Ogidi. These are subject to further thorough and unbiased administrative and criminal investigations into the 18 grouses complained of.
We also observe that the 18 sharp practices complained of, which are a routine in the modus operandi of the three Business Units may most likely have the criminal blessings of the Enugu Zonal Office of the PHCN. In other words, the Enugu Zonal Office of the PHCN may most likely aid and abet. It is also our observation that the 18 sharp practices complained of are no where supported or condoned by any policy statements, missions, visions and aims and objectives of your two important public bodies. They are also not contained in the Nigerian Electric Power Sector Reform Act of 2005. They are called sharp practices because they are activities and conducts done outside the law or administratively prescribed processes.
For instance, none of the 18 sharp or criminal practices is contained in the “Customers Service Charter” of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, which contains a 56-point rights and obligations of the customers, the PHCN management and the Government of Nigeria. What appears to exist in principle is the celebration of official thievery by the PHCN management by rewarding, promoting and punishing their staffers on the basis of ability or inability to defraud consumers ten folds of what their actual monthly consumption bills ought to be. In the two other important public documents made available on the official website of the Federal Ministry of Power titled: “Installation: Electronic Energy Meter” and “Benefits of Prepaid Meter”, none of the 18 sharp or criminal practices is found in them. Rather, they are mentioned in the three public documents as possible criminal practices in the PHCN, to be tackled head on once complained of. These 18 sharp practices are in gross violations of the Chapter Four of the Constitution of Nigeria especially rights to life, dignity of human person (right against mental torture), family life and information. They also violate the Chapter Two of the Constitution –rights to health and education as well as the EFCC, ICPC and Electric Power Sector Reform Acts of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The African Chapter on Human & Peoples Rights of 1981, which Nigeria signed, ratified and domesticated in 1983 is also utterly violated by these 18 gross sharp practices.
Our Demands: In view of the foregoing, therefore, we firmly demand as follows:
1. Thorough, unbiased and conclusive administrative and criminal investigations into the 18 sharp practices complained of, which are leveled against the three Business Units particularly the Ogbaru Business Unit. In the area of criminal investigation, the criminal investigative agencies like Police, EFCC, ICPC and the SSS should be invited by your two important public offices.
2. In investigating the 18 sharp practices complained of, the doctrine of Vicarious Liability (senior taking the punitive liability of his or her junior’s illicit acts due to his or her negligence or incompetence) should be strictly applied against the relevant PHCN top- shots including those occupying the offices named above.
3. The failed Abazuonu Iyiowa 300KVA/33/415 substation (transformer) should be repaired as a matter of uttermost urgency.
4. The 493 flat apartments attached to the said transformer, who installed same should be publicly commended and apologized to, after which a 6-month consumption-free bills should be issued to them. The so-called “monthly maintenance charge” of N500.00 per meter should not appear in the free bills being demanded of. The affected consumers must not be a party to any monthly bills from September 2012 till date having been in perpetual outage since then.
5. A new 500 KVA/33/transformer should be provided and installed beside the said Abazuonu Iyiowa substation so as to balance the heavy load burden of the area.
6. The entire outstanding transformers not yet installed including the 300KVA/33/0.415 given to Ogbeukwu village should be installed and energized immediately.
7. Area or field survey should be conducted in the Iyiowa zone in all the substations therein so as to ascertain their conditions, and load-carrying capacities with a view to balancing their loads and effecting major servicing in them.
8. The acts of inducing or forcing consumers to undertake the responsibilities of installing distribution transformers and maintaining faulty ones in the three Business Units under reference should be totally prohibited and made punitive for defaulting PHCN staffers. Also forcing the consumers to write undertakings “donating to or assisting the PHCN”, which is now a routine in the three Business Units should be totally banned.
9. The present case whereby the consumers in the three Business Units are forced and commanded to pay criminally estimated monthly bills of at least N4, 500/N5, 000.00 per post payment meter, without recourse to units actually consumed captured in same, should be abolished. As a matter of fact, the use of estimated monthly bills to bill members of the public who have post payment meters should be forbidden in the entire Business Units under reference.
10. Commercialization and hording of the allocation and installation of the prepayment electronic energy meters to their subscribers in the three Business Units particularly in the Ogbaru Business Unit should totally be prohibited. As a result, the instances highlighted above should be thoroughly investigated and the culprits severely punished and made to refund sums extorted to their victims.
11. New prepayment energy meters should be massively allocated to consumers in the three Business Units particularly those in the Ogbaru Business Unit. Their allocations and installations should be truly free of charge as a matter of practice. The deliberate and criminal technical conditions and demands attached to their operational usage by the PHCN technicians with a view to further defrauding the consumers should be monitored and prohibited.
12. All the senior occupants of the relevant PHCN offices, to wit: former BM for Onitsha, the SMD for Onitsha, former BM for Ogbaru, the SMD for Ogbaru, the Undertaking Manager for Ogbaru, the new BM for Ogbaru (for aiding and abetting) and the former Maintenance Manager for Iyiowa PHCN office as well as other senior and junior staffers connected to distribution and related departments, who were on seat between June 2011 and June 2012 should be thoroughly investigated over their remote and immediate roles in the Abazuonu Iyiowa 300KVA/33/0.415 transformer installation scandal. If wholly or partly found culpable, they should be punished proportionately to their levels of involvement. Any of them found innocence should be spared.
13. The marketing departments in the three Business Units should be thoroughly audited for 2011 and 2012 fiscal years to ascertain the amounts defrauded in the name of “estimated bills” so as to ascertain what were paid into the official PHCN coffers and the remainders and their whereabouts. For issuing fraudulent bills to the innocent consumers and short-changing them to the tune of billions of naira since 2011, the former and incumbent BMs of the three Business Units should be administratively and criminally sanctioned.
14. The heads of the PHCN offices above mentioned including the heads of marketing departments in the three Business Units should criminally be investigated so as to ascertain their present lifestyles including their movable and immovable properties and compare them with their monthly salaries and allowances paid to them since 2011. In this context, your two public bodies should refer them to relevant security and criminal investigative agencies.
For: Intersociety Nigeria
Emeka Umeagbalasi Chairman, Board of Trustees Phone: +234(0) 8033601078, +234(0) 8180103912 Email: info@intersociety-ng-org
Comrade Justus Ijeoma Head Publicity Desk Phone: +234(0) 8037114869
1. A copy of Intersociety’s letter to the Ogbaru BM dated 31st October 2012 (marked EX 1).
2. A copy of Intersociety’s 2nd letter to same dated 7th November 2012 (Marked EX 2).
3. A copy of letter addressed to the Manager, Ogbaru Undertaking Unit of the PHCN by Hon. Chukwuka Onyema, dated 1st July 2011 (marked EX 3 ).
4. A copy of written request to the Ogbaru Undertaking Unit by the Iyiowa Electricity Committee dated 6th June 2011 (marked EX 4).
5. A letter of appeal for financial support addressed to Comrade Emeka Umeagbalasi regarding the said transformer dated 22nd September 2011 (marked EX 5).
6. A copy of demand/pre-action notice addressed to the Iyiowa Electricity Committee by one Vincent E.O. Nwaeze through Jekwu Anikpeh & Co (solicitors), dated 10th October 2012, demanding for payment of his balance of N30,000 (marked EX 6).
7. A copy of written financial account prepared by the Iyiowa Electricity Committee dated 18th September 2012, which also contained sales invoices of the materials supplied for the installation of the transformer (marked EX 7).
8. A copy of letter-headed sheet from the said PHCN licensed contractor introduced to the Iyiowa Committee by the SMD, containing a quotation worth N463,000 for the repair of the failed Abazuonu Iyiowa transformer (marked EX 8).
9. A copy of the Customers Service Charter of the PHCN (marked EX 9).
10. A copy of public information obtained from the website of the Federal Ministry of Power titled: “Benefits of Prepaid Meter” (marked EX 10).
11. A copy of similar document from the same source titled: “Installation: Electronic Energy Meter” (marked EX 11).
Copies of PHCN monthly bills to consumers in Ogbaru and environs containing the said criminally estimated bills (marked EX 12 (a) to EX 12 (j). They are bills for months of July and August 2012 as well as that of October 2012 containing the so-called “maintenance charge” of N500.00).
1. Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan
President & Commander-in-Chief, Federal Republic of Nigeria
2. Mr. Peter Gregory Obi, Governor of Anambra State
3. Honourable Chinwe Nwaebili
Speaker, Anambra State House of Assembly
4. Honourable Victor Afam Ogene
Member, Representing Ogbaru Federal Constituency, House of Reps, Abuja, Nigeria
5. Dr. Sam I. Gekpe, Power Holding Company of Nigeria
PHCN Headquarters, Abuja, Nigeria
6. The Managing Director, Enugu Power Distribution Company PLC
PHCN Zonal Headquarters, Enugu, Nigeria
BELOW IS CLO’s SUPPORTING LETTER
1. Honourable (Hajiya) Zainab Ibrahim Kuchi
Minister of State for Power
The Federal Ministry of Power
4th Floor, Federal Secretariat Complex
Shehu Shagari Way, Maitama District
2. Dr. Sam Amadi
Chairman of the Board
Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission
NERC Headquarters, Adamawa Plaza
Plot 1099, First Avenue
Off Shehu Shagari Way
Central Business District
Abuja, FCT, Nigeria
Dear Madam Minister & Chairman NERC,
Re Multi-Billion Naira Fraud In The Onitsha, Ogbaru & Ogidi Business Units Of The PHCN
1. We in the Civil Liberties Organization write to associate ourselves with the subject matter above mentioned, undertaken by our sister body, the International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law.
2. We wish to state unequivocally that facts and circumstances of the matter as raised in the Intersociety’s special report under the foregoing subject matter are familiar to us presently and in the time past.
3. We call for thorough and unbiased investigations into them and punishment of those found wanting. We also concur with demands made by the Intersociety and wish to join in making the same demands.
For: CLO, Anambra State Branch
Comrade Aloysius Emeka Attah
Chairman, Anambra State Branch
1. Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan
President & Commander-in-Chief, Federal Republic of Nigeria
2. Mr. Peter Gregory Obi, Governor of Anambra State
3. Honourable Chinwe Nwaebili
Speaker, Anambra State House of Assembly
4. Honourable Victor Afam Ogene
Member, Representing Ogbaru Federal Constituency
House of Reps, Abuja, Nigeria
5. Dr. Sam I. Gekpe
Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN Headquarters, Abuja, Nigeria
6. The Managing Director, Enugu Power Distribution Company PLC
PHCN Zonal Headquarters, Enugu, Nigeria
*Tags: Nigerians, Intersociety, Council, Police, Service, Commission. Sack, Ringim, Africa, Masterweb
*ICC: Free Gbagbo For Justice & Peace in Côte d’Ivoire
By Youssouph Baro
We, Global citizens, Democrats and activists of human rights, African patriots, men and women of all countries, Justice and peace lovers - Recalling that Mr. Laurent Gbagbo was arrested at his Official Residence of Head of State of Côte d' Ivoire on April, 11 2011 in the outcome of an intervention by French forces following an election whose controversial results have raised an unresolved dispute – ( Continues below….. )
Photo Above: Laurent Gbagbo arrested in his bunker by (rebels) forces loyal to his opponent (Alassane Ouattara) in the November 2010 presidential election that gave victory to Ouattar but refuted by Gbagbo. French troops and United Nations peacekeepers provided air and logistics support to Ouattar forces.
Recalling also that in order to resolve this dispute Mr. Gbagbo had asked in vain for a recount in accordance with international practice followed in recent years, including in the United States of America in the contentious Bush-Gore in 2000, the elections in Afghanistan and Haiti, both supervised by the United Nations as it was the case in Côte d' Ivoire, but with results found to be false after the recount - Recalling further that Mr. Gbagbo was then, since November 2011, illegally transferred to the ICC where he is still detained. Considering that the presumption of guilt that led Mr. Gbagbo to the ICC is based only on the argument that…..
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