*Return of Slave Trafficking in Nigeria & Lagos State Government’s Infantile Defense
(Public Information, Onitsha Nigeria, July 31st, 2013)-The leadership of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law sees the last weekend defense by the Government of Lagos State over its roles in dumping in Onitsha Upper Iweka of 72 less privileged citizens, which it called destitute; as constitutionally impeachable. This is because it amounts to gross misconduct, contrary to Section 188(2b) of the Constitution. It is also a grave violation of Section 1(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999. By Section 1(3), the Constitution does not share her supremacy with any other law and policy in Nigeria that are clearly incoherent with her provisions. From every indication, the Government of Lagos State is a clear opposite of an enclave under organic solidarity and a rabid proponent of mechanical solidarity.
Following thunderous and deafening condemnations that trailed the dumping of 72 destitute in Onitsha Upper Iweka, Southeast Nigeria by the Government of Lagos State through its office of Youths & Social Development and the Nigeria Police Force, Lagos State Command; the State Government, which initially denied knowledge of the criminal exercise, has spoken out and claimed responsibility. According to the Special Adviser to the Governor of Lagos State on Youths & Social Development, Dr. Enitan Dolapo Badru, who spoke to the Guardian Newspapers last weekend, “at least 1, 708 beggars and destitute have been expelled from Lagos to their various States and countries since January 2013, in government bid to rid the streets of beggars and the mentally challenged”.
The Special Adviser further said as follows:” the international standard requires the State to reunite them with their families”. “The end result is to reunite them back with their families. We are not repatriating them out of Lagos, we are reuniting them with their families because once we rescue them, we cannot as a government, hold a child under the age of 18 in custody without parental or guardian’s consent. We found out that a lot of children on the streets of Lagos come from outside the state thinking that Lagos is an Eldorado. It is unfortunate that many of them are underage and very vulnerable because they can be introduced to so many vices”.
“When we rescue them, we try as much as possible to carry out social investigation to know where they actually come from and why they absconded in the first place. And this takes time, because most of them don’t usually tell the truth since they don’t want to go back home. Once we have them in our custody, we must take a Court Order to keep them since the law provides for that and we cannot keep them indefinitely, so we still need to send them back to their parents. And our practice is to get in touch with the social welfare services of their respective states, which would in turn get in touch with the families”.
“ In the last one year, a total number of 3,114 beggars/destitute/mentally-challenged have been rescued in day and night operations and 2,695 were taken to the Rehabilitation and Training Centre, Owutu, Ikorodu, where the state government has made provisions for facilities to help in turning their lives around, while the mentally-unstable are given medical attention”.
Apart from monumental contradictions inherent in the watery defense, our sociological, legal and criminological analysis of same, as put up by the Government of Lagos State clearly shows that the State is psychiatrically challenged. Our questions arising from the said public statement of defense are: 1. which provisions of the Constitution or Nigerian Criminal Code empower Lagos State Government to engage in reckless internal deportation and dumping of citizens in another federating territory at ungodly hours? 2. Which court in Nigeria can grant an order detaining citizens including minors accused of simple offenses, misdemeanors and juvenile delinquencies in illegal detention centers without public and family access and trial for over seven months? 3. Is Section 166(1&2) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2011 superior to the 1999 Constitution and her Criminal Code? 4. Are “disorderly conducts, anti begging and wandering” laws of Lagos State capital offenses? 5. Is Lagos State Government a police investigator, a prosecutor, a trial judge or magistrate and a prison officer? 6. Is it correct to say that among the 54 “destitute” escapees dumped by Lagos State Government in another federating territory at ungodly hours are violent criminals including assassins, kidnapers and armed robbers, imported to terrorize the State for the purpose of securing a political advantage or goal for its ruling party?
7. Who is a destitute and how does Lagos State Government determine who a destitute is? 8. Are area boys or “alayes” destitute and if yes, are they not up to 40% of the Lagos State poor residents and have they all been jailed or evacuated from the streets of Lagos State? 9. Is one Tinubu Bola-a so called political godfather not a former destitute and which known and highly rated secondary school did he attend if he was born with golden spoon? 10. What is the main purpose of government; does it exist for political appointees and the rich or is it established for the welfare of majority poor citizens including the so called destitute? 11. Are there no beggars, hawkers, lepers, the aged and bodily and mentally disabled on the streets of the western capitals including the United States of America?
It is important to point out that one of the reasons why the early Nigerian capital was moved from Calabar to Lagos was because of its melting pot status. A number of former slaves were also settled in Lagos. In other words, nobody owns Lagos. Most of the past and present political appointees in the State including an immediate past governor, the State Assembly members and those occupying the Alausa Government House at Ikeja are not from Lagos State, likewise many, if not most of the notable politicians and NGO leaders. Lagos is like the United States where nobody owns America. The word “America” is derived from an individual named “Amerigo Vespucci”. He was a great sailor and explorer that came in early 1500s after Christopher Columbus who came before him in 1490s. In their adventurous exploring project, they discovered a new world, which later became “America”. On the other hand, Lagos shares similarity with America in that it means “lakes” in Portuguese, having been so named by a Portuguese Settlement. Its traditional name is “Eko”( war camp); a name given to it by its Benin Conquerors of the Benin Empire(1440-1897).
While reiterating our unequivocal condemnation of the atrocious action of the Government of Lagos State and call for searchlights of the Federal Government and the citizens to be beamed on same at all times; we wish to appreciate the steps taken so far by the Government of Anambra State, which last night (30-07-2013) held a high powered meeting with the Federal Government of Nigeria at which a strong worded written petition against the Government of Lagos State was submitted. We still want the Government of Anambra State to weigh the option of going to the Supreme Court against the Government of Lagos State to establish a case of grave violation of the Constitution against it including invasion of its federating territory at odds and ungodly hours with malicious intents.
Another measure that would deter the belligerent and lawless Government of Lagos State from engaging in such callous action in future is by instituting a class action on behalf of the dumped citizens, seeking billions of naira worth of compensation to them for infringement of their fundamental human rights. The President is also called upon to order the Inspector General of Police to investigate the roles of the Lagos State Commissioner of Police in the unconstitutional and despicable action. In the course of the IGP’s investigation, all illegal detention centers in Lagos State where citizens are held for months without trial under the guise of “operation flush out destitute”, should be identified and closed down. The Federal Government should, as a matter of uttermost immediacy and federating importance, review all sets of laws and policies being operated by the Government of Lagos State with a view to bringing them into conformity with Nigeria’s mother laws especially the 1999 Constitution.
Comrade Justus Ijeoma, Head, Publicity Desk
*Tags: Nigerians, Intersociety, Council, Police, Service, Commission. Sack, Ringim, Africa, Masterweb
*Reintroduction of Slavery In Nigeria & Lagos State Disastrous Journey To Separatist Enclave
(Public Information, Onitsha Nigeria, July 27, 2013)-One hundred and fifty two years(1861) after not-literate King Desomu of Lagos ceded Lagos to the British colonialists, which formally signaled ninety-nine years of Nigeria’s colonization that terminated in October 1960; history is about to repeat itself downwards. The repetitive history this time is the perceived disastrous and steady efforts of a strategic component unit of Nigeria-called Lagos State of Nigeria to become what looks like a sovereign political territory within another sovereign political territory by way of its anti social and anti territorial laws and policies in recent times. It may be credibly unchallenged to submit that Lagos State is disastrously opting out of the Union it disastrously entered 152 years ago with other entities by way of thumb-printing. The State’s strange and utterly discriminatory set of laws and policies in recent times are enough evidence guiding the hallowed position of ours today.
From every indication, Lagos State is speedily marching to the enclave of disastrous self-governed territory with set of laws and policies clearly at variance with the all-binding Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 and federal policies; part of which is its re-introduction of human slavery in Nigeria. The only difference between the Atlantic Slave Trade and the one complained of is” Trade”. The despicable conducts forgoing are also an eye-opener to all Nigerians and the rest of the world over what the governing political party in the State-the ACN may have in stock for Nigeria, Nigerians and other parts of the country it seeks by election to govern. The State’s faith in the Federal Republic of Nigeria and allegiance to her Constitution is no longer trusted.
We are totally at loss as why a component unit of a country under the authority and supremacy of a supreme Constitution would choose to be corporately lawless and utterly unrepentant in such criminalist and unconstitutional conducts. Not even the State’s leading roles in the agitation for true federalism so called can comfortably assuage our rationality as per reasons behind these clearly unconstitutional conducts of the so called Nigeria’s Center of Excellence. Federalism theory is like the principles of separation of powers that have no common definition and uniformity in application.
In other words, there is no clear-cut separation of powers and universally applicable federalism. Law also recognizes that in everything, exception is entrenched. Theorists of federalism and separation of powers always disagree on common definitions but agree at the end that domesticated federalism is the best in a credible democratic setting. That is to that federalism with local contents that is not repugnant to the credible democratic values; defined, agreed upon and adopted by all component units with the collective consent of their constituents in a federation is the best federalism needing adoption. This simply means that the federalism concept of Lagos State, if applied in this context and subject matter, is dead on arrival because it is sectional, unpopular and constitutionally void.
Statistical Journey Of Lagos To Separatist Enclave:
On 18th of September 2012, over one hundred citizens made up of destitute-beggars, children, women, and the aged and the physically challenged were dumped at about 4: am under the Upper Iweka Flyover in Onitsha, Southeast Nigeria. They were conveyed in 9 buses by unnamed agents of Lagos State Government believed to be working under the State’s Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI). The Lagos State Government, as expected, weakly denied knowledge of the human cargo. Those interviewed by journalists, Red Cross officials and rights groups presented clear and horrible pictures of their ordeal in the hands of the Government of Lagos State.
As if that was not enough, on Wednesday, July 24, 2013, at about 3: am, another 72 people including beggars, petty traders, the aged, women and children and the physically challenged, were dumped at the same spot in Onitsha. Journalistic and rights investigative reports revealed that: 1. They were arrested and detained in a non-formal or State detention center in Okorodu area of Lagos State, near Ijebu Ode in Ogun State, Southwest Nigeria since December 2012. That is to say that they were detained for over seven months. 2. They were detained incommunicado and inhumanly with one pro-dysentery and non nutritious meal a day. 3. They were arrested in connection with alleged offences of misdemeanor/ simple offences of wandering, begging, etc, which according to Nigerian Criminal Code; attract days, weeks and some months of imprisonments and options of fines as low as N100.00 (about 70 US cents).
4. Despite the fact that the alleged offences are loosely and easily bailable, they were held in non State detention centers against their will and without trial for over seven months. 5. Among the victims of the Lagos State generated human cargos were petty traders and wheel barrow hawkers. Citizens Osundus Mbuto and Agwu from Ohazara LGA of Ebonyi State, Southeast Nigeria, are such victims. They were arrested since December 18, 2012 on their way to their trading spots. Citizen Osundu Agwu told Intersociety that three suspected KAI officials accosted him on his way to his wheel barrow kiosk and asked him to enter their vehicle and as he was trying to explain to them, two anti riot police personnel emerged and forced him into their vehicle and drove him away with KAI officials to their Ikorodu illegal detention center where he was held till July 23, 2013. 6. Most of the victims are not from Anambra State. The trio of Osundu Mbuto, Osondu Agwu and Sunday Irabor, who hail from Ebonyi and Edo States, are a clear case in point.
7. All the 72 people were arranged by the Lagos State Government for its Onitsha human cargo disposal spot after they were deceived by being asked to put their names on a sheet of paper in exchange for their freedom. 8. They were conveyed on Tuesday evening (23-7-2013) in four commuter buses with eighteen passengers each and escorted by two Toyota Hilux Vans marked Rescue Operation filled with armed anti riot police personnel(police mobile force). 9. On getting to Onitsha Upper Iweka Flyover by 3: am, all the 72 people were forced to disembark, after which their conveyors turned and sped off back to Lagos. 10. Before 7: am in the morning, 54 of the 72 people have escaped, leaving behind 18 people made up of the aged, women, children and the physically challenged. They were later taken to the Zik’s Avenue Primary School at Fegge in Onitsha, from where they were transferred to the Onitsha General Hospital on July 26, 2013. The social and health identities of the escapees were not ascertained. In other words, nobody knows whether they are light or hardened criminals or citizens with mental or infectious diseases or challenges.
Apart from the foregoing gross misconduct of the Government of Lagos State, the State has also engaged in other grossly unconstitutional acts in recent times. One of them is the unconstitutional creation of 37 Local Government Areas (LGAs) outside the clearly laid down constitutional processes. The State also violates the Constitution by seizing the Federal fiscal allocations meant for its 20 constitutionally recognized LGAs and re-distributes them among its so called 20 LGAs and 37 LGDAs. In furtherance of its harsh and separatist policies, the Government of Lagos State has introduced a distinct motorization driver’s license and particulars policy that bar other Nigerians not resident in the State from entering the State with their private vehicular except they are in possession of Lagos State Driver’s License. This not only violates the constitutional right to freedom of movement of other Nigerians, but also renders the uniformed federally issued driver’s license inoperable in the State that is considered as Nigeria’s melting pot.
Other despicable and discriminatory policies pursued by the Government of Lagos State are demographic and electoral sectionalization; whereby despite the over 6 million citizens of Igbo Southeast extraction in Lagos, for instance, none of them occupies any elective position in the State, not even a councillorship position in Ojo LGA-fondly called Igbo LGA of Lagos State. Other set of laws and policies not in tune with the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 as well as all-binding federal policies also abound in the State.
We join other rational and conscientious Nigerians and the rest of the world in condemning the gross constitutional abuses by the ACN led Government of Lagos State. Its continuing denials and unrepentant postures despite abundance of testimonial evidence are not surprising and speak volume of a government of recklessness and falsehood. By the despicable actions of the State, the Constitution of Nigeria is grossly abused and threatened. The two pillars of our Constitution: Chapter Two and Chapter Four are now at an unprovoked war with the Government of Lagos State. Under our hallowed Chapter Four, her Section 41 is grievously wounded by Lagos State-a state governed by an acclaimed Senior Advocate of Nigerian Law. The Section under reference is not only sacred; but also justiciable. This is by the provision of Section 46. The Section 41 states that every citizen of Nigeria is entitled to move freely throughout Nigeria and to reside in any part thereof; and no citizen of Nigeria shall be expelled from Nigeria or refused entry thereto or exit therefrom.
Under our Chapter Two, which contains the Ten Constitutional Commandments (sections 13 to 23) handed down to our 17,500 top public office holders including the Government of Lagos State, her Sections 15(2)- national integration and 17(1b)-sanctity and dignity of human person are grossly in breach by the Government of Lagos State. By Section 13 of our Constitution, our Chapter Two tolerates no infraction of any of her Sections or provisions by any tier of government in Nigeria, yet the State under reference violates same with reckless abandon. It is also important to point out that no State law in Nigeria; be it wandering or anti begging, can invalidates living provisions of our Constitution especially her Chapter Four.
We call on all Nigerians and the rest of the world to watch the macabre dance of the Government of Lagos State of Nigeria. The State is steadily opting out of our federated union to self-governed enclave by creating and midwifing a set of laws and policies layered in the confines of mechanical solidarity. “When laws and policies are designed by an enclave to disfavor 90 percent of the federated population and make federal laws and policies under which the lager citizens live and cohabitate inoperable and worthless, then federalism is gone for good and citizens ‘ liberties endangered”-Says Emeka Umeagbalasi today in Onitsha Nigeria.
‘We call on the Anambra State Executive Council to direct her Attorney General to take the Government of Lagos to the Supreme Court of Nigeria by way of originating summons to determine the constitutionality or otherwise of the gross misconducts complained of as well as obtainment of perpetual injunction stopping the wicked acts from being repeated”-Says Comrade Umeagbalasi, who chairs our Board. We also call on the Federal Government of Nigeria to carefully watch Lagos State including its set of laws and policies. Elsewhere in the United States, where agitations by some interest groups for the secession of some States from the Union, are on, their laws and policies are now under tight scrutiny at all times by the sovereign partner-the Federal Government of USA.
Comrade Justus Ijeoma, Head, Publicity Desk
*Tags: Nigerians, Intersociety, Council, Police, Service, Commission. Sack, Ringim, Africa, Masterweb
*Intersociety-Nigeria: Season of International Recognition; Challenges Facing NGOs
Season Of International Recognition & Awards To Intersociety Family & Friends
Challenges Facing NGOs In Nigeria & The Rest Of The World
(Public Information, Onitsha Nigeria, July 24, 2913)-It is indeed a season of international recognition and merit awards to the family and friends of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety). First was Comrade Emeka Umeagbalasi who successfully participated in the US State Department’s International Visitors Leadership Program on “NGO Management”-class of June 2013. The program, designed for NGO leaders, staff and volunteers as well as those working for social and business enterprises and government institutions ; for the advancement of their professional skills and international exposure; covered educational and cultural exchange sessions, workshops, under graduate, graduate and post graduate level tutorials in over eight US universities on non-profits in USA, etc; visits to respected think tanks like Center for Strategic International Studies-CSIS; lectures on US democracy and struggles for civil rights movements; sightseeing; visits to White House and Capitol Hill, to mention but few. In all, six States including Washington DC, Washington State, Alabama, Kentucky, Michigan and Missouri were covered in the three weeks intensive and extensive program.
As the jubilation dust that heralded Comrade Emeka Umeagbalasi’s historic participation and return to his beloved country was yet to settle, another friend of Intersociety, Ms Amaka Biachi-Nwosu, wife of our dear friend, late Comrade Chidi Nwosu; slain chairman of the Campaign for Democracy, Southeast zone, who was gruesomely murdered by suspected State agents in Abia State, Southeast Nigeria; was included in the list of participants in the same program ongoing in the United States of America-class of July/August 2013. Late Comrade Chidi Nwosu was assassinated in his residence in Abia State in December 2009. Ms Amaka Biachi’s name was included in the team of Intersociety that played host to the US Consular General and his team who held a meeting with us during his visit to Anambra State in 2011, which led to her recommendation and nomination. Madam Biachi-Nwosu was recommended and nominated by our organization to keep the struggle with which her late beloved husband was known for, alive.
” The choice and inclusion of Ms Amaka Nwosu in the prestigious program is not only a plus for Intersociety but also a great psychological reprieve to her because it is likely that she is still traumatized by way and manner her beloved husband was battered and murdered in her presence three and a half years ago”-says Emeka Umeagbalasi today in Onitsha Nigeria. “It is a great cure and a psychological recovery for a woman who may not be far from the confines of post traumatic stress and shock arising from Comrade Chidi Nwosu’s wicked murder”-further says Emeka Umeagbalasi, our Board Chairman and Comrade-in-Charge .
Another great friend of Intersociety and a popular nominee for Intersociety board membership, Dr. Josephine Obiajulu Okei-Odumakin, who heads the Campaign for Democracyin Nigeria and founded Women Arise for Change; had earlier in March 2013 been awarded a prestigious International Woman of Courage; an award giving to its meritorious recipients annually by the US Secretary of State. Dr. Joe Odumakin, who teaches in various universities in Ghana, Dubai-UAE and Nigeria, has four other international awards this year to her credit. She is also an alumnus of International Visitors Leadership Program of the US State Department-class of August 2008. These are great honors to Intersociety family and friends and we thank the US State Department and the US Embassy in Nigeria for finding us meritorious and worthy. We promise to keep the flag of struggle flying without ceasing and season.
Lessons & Expectations:
One of the great lessons learnt from the prestigious program is strong partnership and collaborative culture existing between the government of US and non-profits organizations in efforts to develop and sustain the US society, unlike in Nigeria where cat and mouse relationship still beclouds the government and the non-governmental organizations. There are about 1.5 million non-profits in USA including social enterprises and religious bodies. The IVLP is instituted and funded by the US Government but organized by selected and reputable non-profit establishments on behalf of the US Government. Another great lesson is the giving culture of US citizens despite her country’s social stresses arising from economic meltdown. This is opposed to give me culture in Nigeria. In 2012 alone, American citizens made a total donation of &316 Billion to charities.
The third great lesson is the success story of the US State Department’s International Visitors Leadership Program, which is subdivided into NGO management, volunteerism, financial crimes, international law and diplomacy, entrepreneurship, to mention but a few. Since 1963 when the prestigious program was instituted, over 50,000 international societal agents of change have participated, out of which, 325 have ascended to plum political leadership positions in their countries. One of such world leaders who participated in the prestigious IVLP is the current Chinese President, Mr. Xi Jinping who participated in the program 27 years ago. Mr. Jinping became his country’s president and chairman of the central military council via China’s National Peoples’ Congress in May 2013. Great lessons learnt from the program are inexhaustible but will be featuring in our subsequent messages to the world.
On the issue of expectations, our experiences from the formidable trip shall be reformative, transformative and constructive in application. We now have a reformed vision, mission, values, motto and programs. We have also adopted two basic programs of democracy & good governance and peace & security. Our democracy & good governance involves popular elections and electoral reforms, accountability in public governance and anti abuse of office. On the other hand our Peace & Security involves security & safety and alternative dispute resolution. Our reformed profile will be made public in a couple of days. It is also available at Intersociety-ng.org.
Though the first international NGO was Anti-Slavery International formed in 1839 but the post Second World War NGOs were created into existence for the betterment of the lives of the immediate and larger societies they work for. That is to say that NGO works that do not impact positively and directly on the grassroots are ballooned and evaporative. Any NGO that disconnects itself and works from the grassroots exists only to enrich professorial, doctoral and other academic students in their research libraries and laboratories. Such an NGO is dead on arrival. NGO leadership is more than local, national, regional and international workshops and seminars’ attendance, benefiting from academic scholarships and obtaining chains of academic degrees and wooden object awards. It is also more than mastership in coining programs that disembowel fat grants’ vaults in Europe and North America.
Sadly, many of the NGOs including over 40,000 recognized by the UN and millions of others operating in 193 independent countries around the world have lost focus of the very idea behind the invention of NGO. In Nigeria, for instance, 60 percent of founding members of Nigeria’s rights NGOs are from the Southeast zone of the country but domiciled in Lagos, yet the zone still parades the most visionless and tainted elected political officials in the country. The zone’s political landscape and leadership are still dominated by political rogues and brigands. With the exception of Anambra and Imo States, fought for and liberated by few radical NGOs in the zone, others are governed by those with crooked electoral mandates. This is because many of Nigeria’s NGOs are evaporative, academic and ballooned.
Despite having access to best technical expertise and funders in Europe and North America, they may be best described as “professors and doctorate degrees holders without students and constituency classrooms”. They are seen as “libertarian rights activists” who are far from “egalitarian rights activism”. They are also like an average Nigerian clergy man that prays outwardly for solutions to social problems but prays fervently inwardly for such problems not to go so that deliverance tithes tied to the problems will not seize coming into his pocket. Granted that an NGO is a “nimble” and a competent social evaluator, which analyses creatively with innovative ideas, but messages of NGOs must reach the grassroots and get them better informed to make themselves active members of the society. This explains why our motto is “taking the civil liberties & the rule of law campaigns to the grassroots for direct impact and betterment of their lives”. Intersociety; without fear of being accused of boastfulness, is one of the most grassroots-oriented NGOs in Nigeria. We are also an unrepentant messenger of “no democracy & good governance, no human rights”!
Comrade Justus Ijeoma, Head, Publicity Desk
*Tags: Nigerians, Intersociety, Council, Police, Service, Commission. Sack, Ringim, Africa, Masterweb
Nigeria: Underage Marriage and the Leadership Question
By Philip Amiola
I have never been more grieved about the condition of the Nigerian state. Why do our leaders continue to make us a laughingstock before the world? We were just recovering from the Governors’ Forum fracas when we were again jolted by the show of shame in Rivers State House of Assembly. Now, the bug has moved to the National Assembly – and the legislators have done the unthinkable – a fraction of them has voted for underage marriage!
Underage marriage is just another euphemism for child abuse. Actually, it is tantamount to pedophilia. Merely contemplating the idea would have been utterly loathsome. It is therefore totally inconceivable that some sectarian demagogues in Abuja would actually attempt to give it legal backing. Apparently, these folks have been active proponents of this ignoble practice all along and were only seeking the slightest avenue to announce their shamelessness under the cloak of legislative duties. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Senator Alhaji Ahmed Rufai Sani Yerima (born July 22, 1960), Ex-Zamfara State Governor who married a 13-year-old Egyptian child in 2009.
Recently, while discussing my views on the gay rights debate on the Signorile Show – a radio programme that airs across the United States and Canada on Sirius XM Radio and globally online – I drew an analogy between homosexuality and pedophilia. It is unfortunate that the same lawmakers who condemned gay marriage now support pedophilia in a pitiable display of emotional entrapment that can very well pass for conflict of interest. While a sane legislature should be making provisions to fully execute the Child Rights Acts which stipulates 18 years as the minimum age of marriage for girls, some of our senators are seeking new ways to relieve their libido and assuage their concupiscence.
Let’s take note of these members of the Senate who are compromising the well-being of our girls. We cannot continue to commit our national destiny to this kind of people. They are misrepresenting us as Nigerians and trampling our national values! We must exercise our right to vote with greater discretion in subsequent elections. Meanwhile, let’s all lend our voices to the campaign against child marriage. A good place to start is sharing this article and similar ones across your social media platforms. You should also consider joining the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #ChildNotBride.
Together, we will deliver the future!
Philip Amiola is a teacher, writer and campaigner of empowerment. He wrote from Lagos, Nigeria.
*Rivers State House of Assembly; Another name for Animal Kingdom
By Chris Onyishi
I have tried, with difficulty, to refuse the temptation of commenting on the goings-on in the Rivers State and, most recently, its House of Assembly for some time now. I find out that the urge to think aloud increases, each time, with the news emanating from the Garden City which has now been turned into a gladiators’ arena.
When I watch a popular DSTV channel called “Nat Geo Wild”, I do see how animals eschew God and play God to each other in the jungle. I always feel bad but I understand I am watching animals. What is happening in Rivers State, politically speaking, today is not far from a “Nat Geo Wild” in real sense, the only difference is that this time around human beings – and not animals – are involved; playing God to each other and making a mince meat out of each other’s flesh.
I have chosen to relay the comments of some people on this issue. All is based on news items. I was not there and would not want to be there with the kind of news coming out. I was not trained in the art of boxing, wrestling or karate. It is now obvious that you must be fortified in one of these physical acts or arts before you can safely go near any place in Rivers State.
Before I continue, my prayers go to some of my relations and good friends in Rivers State who now live in fear. Not too long ago, Boko Haram was sending people packing from the Northern side of our country. Now, it is likely that The Rivers State House of Assembly, the Governor and with the help or connivance of the first lady, Her Excellency Dame Patience Gooluck, and her husband, our own President Goodluck Jonathan – the transformational agenda President – and, the C in C of the Federal Republic of Nigeria will start sending people packing from the South-South end of the country. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Rivers State House of Assembly
Without mincing words, to hear or see the President’s name and his wife feature in the said Rivers State imbroglio is not just absurd, it is offensive and smacks affront on the Rivers State people. But that is not to say, by any inference, that I have taken side or I am trying to take side with Gov. Rotimi Amaechi and his gang in the gangster activities that has engulfed the olden days garden city.
The other very sad aspect of the whole saga is that it all started, remotely or otherwise, after the visit of the First Lady to that state and sequel to allegations that the Rivers State Governor had pitched tent with some northern elements to run as a vice presidential candidate to a northerner. Is there anything wrong in that ambition that will warrant a deliberate attempt to bring a state down violently?
To underscore my neutrality in this whole thing, it would be pertinent to refer my readers to an article I titled “POLITICIANS AROUND THE WORLD AR GRADUALLY DECIMATION ORGANIZED STATES” and written not quite long ago. I do not have fate in the political class in Nigeria of today. It seems as if there is hardly any descent politician in Nigeria.
One "Honorable” member of Rivers State Assembly (Mr. Evans Bipi) who is alleged to be favoring President Goodluck and his wife Dame and, who was alleged to have initiated the “agboro-like” assault in the House of assembly, was quoted as saying that Madam was, or is still, his "Jesus Christ" on earth. I do not have any quarrel with this assertion but it tells much about the “honorable” member who made it.
It would be pertinent to understand when this man, who claims to have lived with Madam for several years, imbibed the idea of using brutal force in solving disputes. Was it before, during or after he lived with Madam? If it was before living with Madam and she did not do anything to dissuade him from such action when they stayed together, then the Madam has some penchant for trouble. If it was during his stay with Madam, then the Madam would also be seen to have tendency towards trouble. If, on the other hand, it was after he left Madam, it would still mean that he imbibed that life style while under Madam’s tutelage. Head or tale, Madam is implicated. I know social scientists will have a varied opinion to this line of taught but the real truth remains that our first lady’s body language does not portray her as someone who is afraid of violence and controversy.
It was also recorded that Mr. Bipi was almost snatching an AK47 rifle from a police officer. Only God knows what would have been the next line in the script, was he able to overpower the police man.
From the raw manner he expressed himself during and after the tournament, one would clearly see that the Rivers State House of Assembly – and by extension, the Nigerian State – has all the time been under the canopy of dishonorable people as their law makers.
The Minister of State for Education – Mr. Nyesom Wike – was quoted as saying that "…what is important is for Nigerians to know that we will not be scared or be intimidated; we will do what we think is right within the law. We will make sure that Rivers people have the change which they had requested for.”
But news report also gave the impression that out of the 32 man Rivers State House of Assembly, only 5 are against Gov. Amaechi. So, if democracy is about representation and number, which Rivers People is the junior Minister referring to. Who is intimidating the other? Is it the 5 “honorable” people or the 27 others? Common sense will show that the five who cannot have their way in a normal democratic setting and who seem to have the backing from Abuja is doing the intimidation.
So, normally, it could be said that the Minister of State is off mark in his remarks and that is in addition to his swaggering while telling us that Michael Chinda will be flown abroad for medical treatment. Is his government not supposed to put medical facilities back home for treatment of, at least, such simple ailment as fracture or open wound? Shameless is the only way to imagine the attitude of our rulers.
Michael Chinda, the other “honorable” man of the Rivers State Assembly who got the beating of his life with the Mace of the assembly is billed to be – if he has not been – flown abroad for treatment as we were boldly told by the Minister of State for education – Mr. Nyesom Wike. This is the most worrisome of the whole episode. That these ungrateful elements will humiliate us in all fronts and still have the recourse to using our collective resources to treat themselves abroad is the most offensive part of the insult.
We do not have roads, we do not have electricity, we do not have hospitals, we do not have schools, we do not have practically anything to sustain ourselves in our own country, and some animals in the jungle are depleting what is left to be used someday to provide these amenities, by genuine leaders, to fly abroad for treatment on a wound which they inflicted on themselves while displaying the beast in them.
The Minister of State in the Education ministry was so proud of himself when he was telling us that Michael Chinda is being flown abroad. It became a class thing to him. Can you imagine the mentality of our rulers?
In another breath, one commentator summarized the fate of this “honorable” Michael Chinda thus:
“I think the man deserved what he got; if he dies to hell. if he survives he has lessons and experience to share to his friends and his generations to come. The mace used on him is the best rod because that is staff of authority to correct lawlessness and cast out demons in the man and as you can see the man has been delivered thru the power in the authority of mace”.
Isn’t the above assertion funny enough? But what you will not deny the person who made that assertion is frustration from the actions and activities of our so called “honorable” rulers; executive and legislature alike. When the citizenry gets to the point he or she reasons as above as a result of his or her disappoint in those who determine his or her fate, then you know that the whole essence of an organized state is in the verge of collapse and the mantra becomes as relevant as anarchy song.
“Unfortunately, Soyinka betrayed moral duty in his recent diatribe against Mrs. Patience Jonathan. Of course, this would not be the first time he would reach out against the First Lady, usually from self-righteously indignant lecterns".
The above excerpt is from Mr. Ayo Osinlu’s defense of her Madam against Prof. Wole Soyinka’s press conference on the Rivers State imbroglio, where it was alleged that the Prof. advised the President to be cautious of the excesses of his wife. Here again we see how people – because of their personal gains – will bring down their pens heavily (against anybody) to defend the indefensible. When you agree to become the Special Assistant on media to a woman who has a much exaggerated sense of her relevance in a state where actors are driven by inordinate ambition, you have sold out on your integrity and professional responsibility.
On his part, The Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Ahmed Gulak, compared the Rivers House of Assembly crises with what happened in Adamawa State where the State Assembly was shut down for three months in the past. According to him, the crisis was an internal Rivers State wrangling within the administration which, he said, is fueled by the mischief of the State Governor. Mr. Gulak did not see anything wrong with the full tuggry that took place in the Rivers State Assembly beyond the fact that the State Governor was around at the scene.
President Jonathan should lean backwards and reflect on the overbearing activities of his wife in his government. Nigerians may tolerate his actions and inactions, but I do not think many Nigerians will be willing to stomach the excesses of his wife who does not, in any form, have their mandate to gallivant about with the taxpayer’s money. She could still be comfortable, as a first lady, without undue interference in the activities of elected representatives of the people, irrespective of how wacked the elections that brought them into power.
There is already the stench rumor that all these crises are being precipitated to get to a point where the President will declare a state of emergency in Rivers State to finally drive down the nail on the coffin of the political fate of Gov. Amaechi.
If an already fragile nation disintegrates as a result of the unnecessary interference of a sitting President’s wife, then history will tell the story in a bitter way.
Chris Onyishi (email@example.com)writes from Owerri, Imo State, Nigeria.
*Nigerian 2013 Rainbow Push Coalition Delegation Hosted in Chicago in Grand Style
By Masterweb News Desk
It was a unique and power packed gathering at the highly exclusive private dinner reception for the Nigerian delegation at the 2013 Convention of The Rainbow Push Coalition founded by Rev Jesse Jackson which was held between July 6th and July 10th 2013 at the Chicago Hilton and Towers.
The Nigerian delegation was ably led by the highly revered Elder Statesman and leader of the Ijaw nation Chief Edwin Clark who came in the company of his amiable wife Dr (Chief) Mrs Abisola Sodipo-Clark and a contingent which included Their Excellencies; former Military Governor of Akwa Ibom State Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga (rtd), former Governor of Edo State Professor Oserhiemen Osunbor, Former Governor of Plateau and Katsina States General Lawrence Onoja (Rtd), Professor Saliba Mukoro, People's Democratic Party Stalwarts Aisha Ali and Mr Gadzama of Zamfara and Bornu States respectively, and others.
The Private reception/dinner was hosted by the Nigerian United States Consulate led by the Nigerian Ambassador to the United States represented by the Deputy Chief of Mission His Excellency Bassey E. Archibong and had in attendance guests from a cross section of Nigerians in Diaspora.
His Excellency Bassey E. Archibong representing the Nigerian Ambassador to the United States in his brief welcome address thanked the elder Statesman Chief Edwin Clark for honoring the Nigerian community in the United States by attending the private dinner reception amid their busy schedule. He offered the goodwill message of the Nigerian Ambassador to the United States His Excellency Ambassador Adebowale Adefuye to the visiting Nigerian delegation and admonished Nigerians at home and abroad to support the dynamic Government of His Excellency President Goodluck Johnathan who has made tremendous strides in the fight against corruption in Nigeria, enhancement of power generation, infrastructural development, enhancing the state of security amid recent challenges and implementation of socio-economic policies that has ensured Nigeria's growth. He also re-iterated that upon the successful completion of His Excellency President Goodluck Johnathan's second term in office come 2019, that Nigeria will definitely take the leadership position as the next globally emerging economy. On a more personal tone, The Nigerian Deputy Chief of mission Ambassador Bassey E. Archibong paid his profound respect and gratitude to the revered leader of The Ijaw nation, whom he described as a father not only to him but to the nation and who has personally supported and guided him all through his career in public service.
Chief Edwin Clark in his remark thanked the Nigerian mission for the reception, introduced his delegation and conveyed the goodwill of the good people of Nigeria at home who have been honored by the Rev Jesse Jackson-Rainbow Push Coalition's 2013 Annual convention. The elder statesman urged Nigerians in diaspora to continue to be good ambassadors of their home country and to continue to support the development and growth of Nigeria through individual and collective efforts.
In attendance at the event were several dignitaries which included President and CEO of The Promethius Consulting Chicago Otunba Abbey Badejo, Prof and Mrs Christian Oniwowo a Wisconsin University Alumni sporting hall of fame recipient, Chicago Cook County Comptroller Ben Olowole-Johnson, African Union Award winning anthem composer and poet Chief Charles Okereke, Dr Ewa, Ms Linda Oyewopo of The Promethius Consulting Chicago and other Nigerian community leaders in The United States. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Group photograph of Chief Edwin Clark flanked by Dr (Chief) Mrs Abisola Sodipo-Clark, Otunba Abbey Badejo, Ambassador Baseey E. Archibong, Ben Oluwole-Johnson, Professor Mrs Oniwowo and other guests.
The Nigerian Deputy head of Mission, Ambassador Bassey E. Archibong declared the dinner open and also introduced the Current Wisconsin State Heavyweight Boxing Champion; the Nigerian Born Mr Enobong Umohette to Chief Edwin Clark and his powerful delegation. He also announced that the Nigerian born State boxing Champion is about to fight for an international Heavy Weight boxing title in November this year in Milwaukee Wisconsin.
Mr Umohette in his remark thanked His Excellency Ambassador Adewole Adefuye's representative for the privilege of being invited to the event and admitted that he was completely awed to be in the presence of Chief Edwin Clarke, the leader of the Ijaw Nation whom he described as a courageous champion of human rights and social justice. The Nigerian born Wisconsin State professional Boxing champion recalled in his remark, that on March 15th, 2001 he was opportune to visit Oloibiri in Bayelsa state, which was the site of Nigeria's first crude oil discovery and when he saw the devastation and desolation of the land, he appreciated why historic leaders like Chief Edwin Clark had risked their lives fighting for the betterment of the Niger Delta region.
Mr Enobong Umohette also paid glowing tributes to His Excellency the former Governor of his home state of Akwa Ibom, Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga whom he acknowledged for his selfless service to Akwa Ibom and whom he has admired for his humility and continued service to Akwa Ibom state. He further paid tribute to His Excellency General Lawrence Onoja rtd, whom he acknowledged as a great leader as he also paid tribute to the dignitaries who attended the event.
In his final remarks, Mr Umohette stated that great leaders like Chief Edwin Clark and Their Excellencies present; through their sacrifices and service to the nation are the source of inspiration which drives him in the boxing ring to inspire young Nigerians at home to get involved in sports and steer away from crime.
Chief Edwin Clark in his response thanked Mr Enobong Umohette for his contribution to promoting Nigeria's image in sports and inspiring young ones at home and pledged to be at ring side come November 2013 when Mr Umohette will battle for an International Heavyweight title in his journey towards attaining a world heavyweight boxing title.
*Intersociety writes it is “Time for Peace, Forgiveness, Harmonization & Teamwork” in Anambra
1. Mr. Peter Gregory Obi
Governor of Anambra State
Government House, Awka
2 Sir Victor Umeh
Chairman, All Progressives Grand Alliance
The APGA National Headquarters, Abuja
Time for Peace, Forgiveness, Harmonization & Teamwork
(Onitsha Nigeria, July 16, 2013)-It is recalled Sirs, that our organization wrote similar letter to you sometime in 2012 through our ADR Bureau, over the differences between two of you who were and are still great friends and pro-democracy and rule of law fighters. Sadly, that important letter for reconciliation failed to achieve its frontal aim. Nevertheless, we must commend your acknowledgement of the letter.
Today, our advice, to the effect that alternative dispute resolution, not court is the best way to go about resolving your differences, has come to fruition. Having said this, it is commendable on part of two of you for resorting to court process instead of self-help form of seeking remedies or vengeance.
It is now time for peace, forgiveness, harmonization & teamwork, which are also in line with the reported outcome of your reconciliatory meeting nursemaid(ed) by Their Lordships-the three Catholic Bishops. It is very important to inform you as pro-Igbo rights group that APGA is the only thing left after Ojukwu as an idol of Igbo Emancipation and Survival in Nigeria. Two of you must not be”Egu Jidesiri ike n’ nwata, mgbe olulu n’ okenye, ohachasia aka ya”. We profusely pray that you shelve your differences and ego and work like a team. There is no sin that cannot be forgiven. Sir Umeh as a Knight of the Church can attest to this. That is the reason why the Church made him a Knight. There should be no more court appeal, name calling, death wishing, sponsored media attacks or invocation of spirits of the dead against each other! It is a raw fact that APGA under Sir Umeh will not win the guber poll without the State political machinery controlled by Mr. Peter Obi.
Our Informed Advice
1. Anambra Local Council Poll must be held as fixed or by first week of December 2013. Anambra People deserves credibly elected LGA system.
2. There should be harmonization in your party’s ward, LGA, State and national structures. The people that make up Ayamelum, Anambra East & West, Oyi and Ogbaru who were mostly affected by last year’s flood disaster must not be disenfranchised having lost their voters cards. They must be recaptured in the forthcoming voter’s revalidation. Also those who have attained the voting age since 2011 and dead voters must be registered; and or deleted.
3. There should be a compromise between two of you in matters of zoning and anointment of candidates. While Sir Umeh should relax his perceived insistence on anointing one Ifeanyi Ubah as his sole guber candidate, Mr. Peter Gregory Obi should do same on the issue of zoning same to Anambra North. In the eyes of equity, the contest should be let open on the basis of percentage zonal chances. That is to say that Anambra North will have 50% chance to contest; Anambra South 35%; and Anambra Central 15%.
Political criminals must not be allowed a space on Anambra polity again. The riotous political era of 1999 to 2006 must not be allowed to repeat itself in the State. Two of you whose party controls the State political machinery must find ways of containing rising youth militancy in the State. We have evidence that they are being funded and supported by the PGs, traditional rulers, key politicians and some landlords associations especial in Onitsha zone of Ogbaru, Okpoko, Nkpor, Umuchiome-Nkpor, Nsugbe, Nkwere-Ezunaka, Fegge-Onitsha, Onitsha-Ado, Obosi and Ogidi townships. There are also deadly youth groups scattered in places like Aba Park, Onitsha-Owerri Road parks, Niger Bridgehead and Upper Iweka parks. Your government instituted ASTA is also peopled by militant deadly youths. Some of your political aides like office of your Commerce Commissioner make use of them to collect off-government levies.
Thank You Sirs
Yours Igbo Emancipation Comradely
Chairman of the Board & Alumnus of IVLP of the US State Dept-Class of 2013
Comrade Justus Ijeoma
Head, Publicity Desk
Behind a Successful Achebe, there is a Bravery Christie!
By Olugu Ukpai
Indeed, it is no longer news that Nigeria, Africa and the World over have lost a foremost novelist, an irony twister and a master of strange situations, Professor Chinua Achebe. I have been following with great interest as the torrent of superlative and unending eulogies continues to pour in from all walks of life. From Nigeria’s own former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, he was “African image to the world.” The deputy speaker of the House of Representatives in Nigeria, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha "a titan of incomparable proportion". Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iwela described him as a "movement for African literature" and a “teacher of light.” Across Africa, Kenya’s Ngugi wa Thiong’o described him as “an embodiment of universal wisdom,” South African writer and Nobel laureate Nadine Gordimer called him the "father of modern African literature." Across Europe, the BBC described him as the “founding father of Africa’s literature in English.” For me, none of those tittles befits the “Eagle on the Iroko” anymore because I knew that the eagle must fly out one day. He is the “Socrates of Africa” who believed in continuity. He arrived just on time to assume “the orator of intellectual ancestors” in the ancestral scholastic chamber. While mortals mourn him, the ancestors are celebrating saying “hosanna to the most high: What is good for the goose is also good for the gander.”
Still there are those who had claimed Achebe to themselves: His colleagues, Professor Wole Soyinka and J.P. Clark described his death as a “person loss”. Professor Dora Akunyili described him as her own “mentor”, Nigerian coordinating Economic Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iwela described him as a “personal hero”. For Enyeribe Anyanwu, from UNN, he was his “academic adviser.” Chinua acclaimed Achebe’s 21st century daughter, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, summed it up when she wrote: "what I know for sure, is that I would not be the writer I am if it wasn’t for Chinua Achebe.”
Notwithstanding, a negligible few views Achebe on the contrary. For instance, Professor Ibrahim Bello-Kano in his recent article titled Chinua Achebe: A Non-Romantic View, has described the author of the celebrated novel, Things Fall Apart as the “greatest anti-novel” writer to mention but a few. Responding to Bello-Kano’s low key remark, Casidy Ibe insisted that the true man of the people was "a rare writer of sublime flawlessness". Ugwutikiri Opata of UNN in his piece, All Things Fall in Place: Remembering Chinua Achebe at UNN asked that Bello-Kano should be ignored because the “…offspring of the snake afford not to be long?” Opata also pleaded with Achebe, the “Nigerian of rare-breed” that the Arrow of God should not be pointed at Bello-Kano for his flair of conventional knowledge for wisdom. He rather pleaded with the “prophet of letters” to “please pray for” Ibrahim Bello-Kano “at the crossroad.” One of Nigerians’ foremost soccer physicians, Sampson Siasia, had insisted that Bello-Kano probably suffers from a “lose canon” syndrome. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Late Prof. Chinua Achebe
Yet, I remain disappointed amidst these eulogies: Achebe’s widow, Christie, the most important woman in the life of Achebe seems to have been forgotten so quickly. Her role in Achebe’s stint of success has never been mentioned amidst these Achebe’s encomiums. To the best of my knowledge, it was only Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala and Pini Jason who referred to Christie in passing. For instance, while Dr. Iweala on her face book wall referred to Christie as her "Aunty Christy" whom she knew "since she was a teenager", Jason in his article entitled Chinua Achebe: No need to mourn mentioned Christie in passing while describing a 1987 interview with Achebe in his house. “…we…strolled into the house, invaded Christy’s kitchen and chatted over lunch”, Jason said. Sadly, had Jason not ate to his fullest and rather met upturned pots in Charity’s kitchen, he couldn’t have probably remembered her. Thanks Christie for being a good cook.
Jason did not do anything extra ordinary because an Igbo proverb has it that a stomach does not forget the finger that fed it. In the Bible, the mixed crowd that followed Jesus proposed making him their king not because of his teachings, rather, they hoped that Jesus would do more food miracles for them anytime they were hungry. So, Jason did not do something extra-ordinary by remembering the woman that fed her, because even the crowd did not forget Jesus after eating to their satisfaction. Jason only succeeded in putting old wine in a new skin by reaffirming the outdated chauvinistic remark that women’s place is in the kitchen. Nigerian borne Sope Williams is right when he assert that the “Nigerian woman is defined in terms of her role as a mother and a wife.” Professor Rosemary Achmuty, a pioneer of women's studies and feminist legal studies concludes that “historical accounts have given little or no attention to the woman or the campaign of which she was part.” I know that Achebe would probably feel disappointed at Jason’s corridor remark on his widow, because he had reposed much confidence in him, having described him as an “eminent journalist and writer” in his last book, There Was A Country (p.236).
The question now is, as this eulogies pours in, how would Achebe want his wife, Christie, whom he described in his last book: There was A Country: A Personal History of Biafra as: a “leader”, “beautiful” a woman of “ingenuity” and “very articulate” (p.31, 179) to be remembered along with him? What particular message of Christie that Achebe would want the Nigerian government and the world over to hear in his eulogy?
Christie, the brave women. Achebe would like Christie, his amiable wife to be remembered a long with him as brave woman who saved his life and that of their children. Christie is a brave woman who probably might have saved Achebe’s life of which without he couldn’t have been alive to attain his feat. Besides whisking their children from various bombing scenes in the nick of time during the Biafra war, (p.182), Achebe recounted that it was Christie who woke him up from a deep sleep when they were about to be attacked in their new home at Enugu, “ At about 2.00am Christie first heard the noise of an intruder. She alerted me, and I shouted at the top of my voice, “Where is my gun?” Achebe recounted (p.180). When the Nigerian soldier intensified bombing during the Biafran war, Achebe and his family scampered for safety inside a bunker, but without Chidi, their third child. On sighting Chidi playing around, Achebe was afraid of going out and persuaded Christie not to leave the bunker. Against all odd “Christie dashed out from the bunker, grabbed the baby” bravely (p.190). Despite the fresh coup in 1966 and its attendant curfews, Christie remained brave enough and was still committed to her motherly obligation. On returning from a night movie with their daughter Chinelo, she decided to branch at Achebe’s office to see if he “was alive”. Achebe wrote: As she [Christie] walked to my office someone yelled at my wife: “Where are you going?” Don’t you know what is happening?” So she walked more briskly, because she wanted to find out whether I was alive” (p.65). The pursuit of a tall goal such as that of Achebe can be challenging. There can be moments when it looks like utter defeat and you feel like giving up. Achebe had those days, but Christie bravely stepped in. That is why a good and supportive wife, like Christie, can be what separates the successful from the unsuccessful men in today's society. The importance of a stable steady home life to Achebe’s success is not to be underrated. Christie Achebe was behind it. Achebe acknowledged that Christie is responsible for his “Staying Alive” to achieve his feat (p.179). In 1945, Meryll Frost, the then most courageous Athlete, in a remark of appreciation for his wife’s support once said “Although I am not a great man, there is a great woman behind me.” As Achebe journeys home, I heard him saying “there is a great woman I left behind.”
Christie, a voice of the voiceless. While Achebe is well remembered as a voice against colonialism, corruption and injustice in Nigeria, he would want Christie’s to be reckoned with social justice for women. During her vacation job at the then Nigerian Broadcasting Service, Christie noticed a grave inequality in payment for equal time spent at work among students. She led a delegation of students to complain this injustice to Achebe, who was the then controller of the Nigerian Broadcasting Service (NBS), Eastern Region, Enugu. Achebe recounted: “In grave tones she announced the complaint of the students: There was one student who whose salary was higher than all the others, and they wanted “equal pay for equal time” (p.31). And the students got their request as Achebe made sure that the students received equal pay for the job they did.
There is no gain saying that justice and equal opportunities for Nigerian women remains a far cry. Achebe would want the Nigerian government to listen to Christie as he did. Nigerian women are discrimination on grounds of sex as flooded in the 1999 Nigerian constitution as amended. Christie is wondering why up till now a woman is unable to confer Nigerian citizenship on her foreign husband, whereas, a man’s foreign wife may be registered as a citizen (Section 26(2). She wants to know why section 353 provides that an indecent assault against a man is a felony, punishable by three years in prison, whereas section 360 adjudges the same offence against females a misdemeanour punishable with only two years imprisonment. Christie, the then student leader frowns at the Nigeria’s personal taxation laws in which a married woman will only be allowed to claim tax relief based on the number of dependents she has if only she can show that she has separated her husband by deed or by an order of the High Court. But just as the drafters of the constitution know, the average Nigerian woman does not want to seek divorce from the court for some reasons not limited to societal ostracization, the stigma attached to it. This is besides litigation high cost and longevity of cases caused by court congestion. She wants to know why the anti-Female Genital Cutting law has not been passed. Christie is asking why different laws still apply to women differently in Nigeria depending on the state they resides despite the supremacy of the Nigerian constitution.
However while waiting for the answers to these questions she posed, Christy thanks Mrs. Funmi Falana for challenging the police “marriage permit" regulation 124. She is happy that female cops can now marry without permission from the Nigeria Police Force. This was not possible before May 16, 2012. Regulation 124 states inter alia: “A woman Police Officer who is desirous of marrying must first apply in writing to the Commissioner of Police for the State Command in which she is serving, requesting permission to marry and giving name, address and occupation of the person she intends to marry. Permission will be granted for the marriage if the intended husband is of good character and the woman police officer has served in the force for a period of not less than three years.” Regulation 124 is inconsistent with section 42 of the Constitution and Article 2 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights which have prohibited discrimination on the basis of sex.
Christie, a woman in whose hand Achebe appreciated how to respect women’s opinions and perceptions on issues that affects them without necessarily reducing it to conventional “wagging…jaw” (p.33). As an epitome of humility, Achebe wouldn’t want to take any glory that is not due him. He would want Christie to be associated with the respect he had for women throughout his life and career. Achebe remembered an evening he and Christie were having conversation while Christie’s Father, Mr. Okoli watched as they chatted. During the said conversation, however, Mr. Okoli “missed something that Christie said and asked for clarification” (p.33). But Achebe responded “jestfully” saying “Don’t mind her…wagging her jaw” (p.33). Christie’s father rebuked Achebe saying “Don’t say or imply that what someone else has to say or is saying is not worth attending or listening to” (p.33). Unlike what would be an average man’s response, Achebe received the chastisement positively and moved on. He advised himself thus: “I had to be careful about the way I handled someone else’s words or opinions, especially Christies…Even when there was a strong disagreement one had to be discordant with respect” (p.33). Christy is saying “Every Nigerian woman deserves to be respected and listened to, as Achebe did to me while he lived.”
Overall, as brave woman, a voice of the voiceless and symbol of equity and excellency in Nigerian women, Christie is a good woman and a good woman is not to be confused with any woman. "An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life" (Proverbs 31:10-31). A good woman is a source of strength, a shoulder to lean, and even cry on. A good woman can be the thing that motivates you to keep on trying when the chips look like they are down. To show you a new way when you're being one sided. To help you recover from your failures and celebrate your successes. Indeed, Christie helped Achebe brought home his baskets of success and we cannot afford to forget her. Contrary to Jason’s conclusion that “Achebe’s work is done” with his last book: There Was A Country, I argue that Achebe’s passage has opened yet another new book begging to be written: There is A Woman: Christie. In the book, the generation to come would always read that Behind a Successful Achebe, there is a Bravery Christie!
Olugu Ukpai writes from the school of Law, University of Reading, UK and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ombatse Series 2: Baba Alakyo, Nasarrawa People’s Fetish Alternative to Injustice and Insecurity- another Okija Shrine
By Obinna Akukwe
Ombatse Cult, a fetish group which draws support from majority Eggon tribe of Nassarawa State is seen as an alternative to the failed social justice and security in Nigeria. Ombatse cult came into national limelight when their followers murdered over 100 personnel of the Nigerian police and the SSS. The national uproar which followed the crisis was well intentioned- if security personnel could be slaughtered like goat, then there is no hope for the common man. Everybody condemned the massacre and afterward a paltry N1millon naira was given to the families of slain policemen. The case has died down, everybody has forgotten the event, till another group rises up and kills yet more number of security personnel and another round of uproar will ensue. This is Nigeria where root causes of events are swept under the carpet.
I was expecting to hear about Federal Government Commission of Inquiries on why Eggon people of Nasarrawa see a 76 year old man, Lega Ahgu, popularly known as Baba Alakyo, from a sleepy Lakio village near Lafia, as a saint, savior and messiah of a sort. Having interacted with many Eggon politicians, administrators and professionals over the issue of Baba Alakyo , there is unanimous affirmation that the man is innocent and those who wanted to kill him are the villains. It is painful that even clerics from the state, Christians, Muslims, Pagans and their elite including professors, PhD holders all see Baba Alakyo as a persecuted citizen whom the gods delivered from the hands of a power drunken state. How can a fetish man whose followers killed security personnel be seen as a persecuted citizen?
The answer is simple, Baba Alakyo was the first person that gave the Eggon tribe of Nasarrawa State the fetish powers they needed to reverse the series of defeats they encountered in the hands of Fulani Herdsmen. Fulani Herdsmen have terrorized the people for long, killing, maiming and raping their women. They also confiscated and destroyed their farmlands until Baba Aalkyo came to their fetish rescue. When the man took over the battle, Fulani Herdsmen were severally defeated that for them the fear of Ombatse is the beginning of wisdom. Fulani Herdsmen recently have tried to avoid Eggon people and their incessant victories over communities in Kogi, Benue, Plateau, Enugu, Delta, Kaduna and Cross River states have not been extended to the Eggon people of Nasarrawa states in recent times. Thus this old juju man helped the Eggon people obtain a sort of respite from the marauding herdsmen. What the Nigerian Police, Army, SSS etc couldn’t do for them, an old fetish master did. That is the origin of allegiance to Ombatse and Baba Alakyo's rising fetish profile. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Arrested Ombatse Cult members
Baba Alakyo is revered by some persons in Nasarrawa State. According to them, he doesn’t charge money for spiritual consultations and he gives herbs for medicinal purposes. He also consults spirits on behalf of persons. This fetish priest organized his people to form Ombatse, a cult whose aim is to ensure that Eggon people live in peace with each other by adhering to oaths of morality, fairness and equity especially when dealing with their fellow Eggon tribesmen. This cult group worships a deity known as Azhili and they indoctrinate their followers that their principles tallies with the Bible and Quran, principal among which is that an Ombatse member must be holy and shun theft, adultery, false witness, intimidation etc.
Ombatse cult also metamorphosed into a spiritual court where aggrieved persons bring their cases for the spirits to adjudicate. Cases of adultery, theft, robbery, ritualism, confiscation of family properties etc which normally should have been adjudicated upon by normal administrative courts were being handled by Ombatse group because the people lacked confidence in the courts. It seems the state apparatus hates the faces of Eggon tribesmen. Eggons in the police force are also being transferred en-masse to other states. In one of the transfer letters with Ref No CH:5250/ZN.4/VOL./194 dated 19th June, about 32 policemen from the zone were transferred out of the state in one fell swoop allegedly under pressures from the state. Governor Al-Makura had performed better than his predecessors in terms of providing infrastructures to Nasarrawa people but the culture of suffocating the Eggons did not abate under his regime.
It is obvious that the failure of security agents to provide adequate protection, the failure of the courts to dispense justice and the failure of the government to secure a better life for its citizens led the Eggon people to migrate towards a fetish medicine man as a savior. Chris Mamman, the President of Eggon Cultural Development Association (ECDA) had told newsmen severally that in recent times about 259 Eggon tribesmen had been killed and over 2500 houses burnt and the government never bothered to send in single police personnel to protect them from the regime of Abdullahi Adamu in 1999 till date. Listing litanies of unprovoked attacks Mamman said that ''On March 30, 2007, the Alago Militias attacked our peace-loving people in Assakio town in Lafia East Development Area to annihilate or cleanse the area of the Eggon people for no just cause. The Eggon lost so many lives and over 200 houses were totally razed. Despite our cry to both the state government and the law enforcement agencies, nothing was done to either compensate our people over the loss of properties or even a visit from any government official to condole with us over the loss of lives.
On Saturday, April 7, 2012, a band of Fulani militia attacked our people in Yelwa Ediya in Doma Local Government Area, killing Eggon people and burning 22 houses belonging to Eggon people.
On June 1, 2012, the Alago Militia with the support of other invited ethnic militias attacked Eggon quarters in Assakio town, killing some of our people. The reason for the attack is what they called non-payment of royalty/tribute on a bag of rice per Eggon farmer as imposed by the Alago community leader. Our people defended themselves. The rest is now history.
On October 18, 2012, a band of Fulani militia attacked our people in Angwan Alaku and Kadarko Railway Villages of Giza Development Area. This led to the death of nine Eggon people who were not only butchered but parts of their bodies were mutilated and removed and their corpses deposited in the bush close to their farms''.
Okija Shrine was one of such sister cult in Anambra State where people took various cases to for strange spirits to judge. Those whose properties and family land were confiscated, apprentice salesmen whose masters refused to settle, cases of robbery, mysterious death, theft, scandals and malicious defamation of character all took their cases to Okija Shrine. The Shrine attendants then sends emissaries to invite the accused to the place within 7-21 days to clear self of all accusations or the spirits will declare them guilty and mete justice. Such was the powers of this fetish Shrine that those allegedly killed by it are taken to the place and deposited to avoid spiraling death for others.
Politicians also used the shrine to administer oaths of secrecy and allegiance from followers. Senator Andy Uba allegedly ordered his brother Chris Uba to drag ex-Governor of Anambra State, Chris Ngige to the shrine to swear oath of surrendering state coffers to their family, and it took the resistance of the combined voice of Anambra people and some anointing oil Ngige obtained from an Anglican Bishop, before he wriggled out of the fetish oath. Former Governor Orji Uzor Kalu of Abia State dragged his successor to the place to swear oath of subservience.
Therefore, it is shameful that a society that has up to 20 million literates and about 5 million graduates from various universities in the world cannot put forward an effective social security, justice administration and policing system. It is disturbing that a nation like Nigeria is gradually retrogressing towards allegiance to fetish organizations in search of justice and protection. Even if more policemen were killed by Ombatse cultists, it will not change the minds of Eggon people, because they believe that during their hard times, the apparatus of the law offered no defense.
Days after the Ombatse attacks, some herdsmen attacked villages in Abutu, Guma and Gwer local governments of Benue State leaving over 40 persons dead. A month later, the herdsmen attacked Nzorov ward in the same Guma Local Government where the earlier attacks took place, killing over 45 persons again and the security agents seems helpless. Thus over 85 persons dead within weeks and the state offered no security. Soon these Benue communities will gravitate towards a sinister juju man for deliverance and the fetish self help cycle goes on. These strange spirits Nigerians are gravitating towards for communal deliverance will soon make strange demands on these wards because their protection is not for nothing. All the family and town prayer deliverances all over the place is because some forefathers mortgaged themselves to strange spirits in order to obtain reprieve from attacks, oppressions and injustice.
Nigerians travel to Ijebu- Ode, Calabar, Kano, Asaba, Warri, Bauchi, Benin and different places searching for groups and cults like Okija, Ombatse etc in an effort to obtain justice, protection and security. As a result, more educated persons including those trained in the US are paying loyalty to suspicious spirits for protection and preservation. This does not make for a good social and spiritual development .Churches and Mosques looks silly in the face of all these, while faith in God is being substituted for faith in juju priests. The earlier the Nigerian government and religious leaders develops a system of effective policing, security, justice and conflict resolution based on equity and the rule of law, the better for the nation. Deliberate confiscation of electoral mandates through corrupt connivance of the executive, judiciary and security agents are giving rise to such fetish allegiance, especially for people whose faith in God had suffered fatality.
Any Nigerian who thwarts justice, delays justice, oppresses his neighbor and embezzles funds meant for the welfare of the citizenry have indirectly contributed in driving people with little faith in God to hold allegiance to fetish groups like Ombatse , Okija, Egbesu , Civilian JTF as alternative to justice and security and soon God’s judgments will fall on them.
*Bill Gates Writes Governor Obi of Anambra State
By Masterweb News Desk
Congratulations on leading Anambra State to achieve Best Performing State in South-East Geopolitical zone in the 2012 Nigeria governors’ Immunization Leadership Challenge. Your commitment to eradicate polio and.....READ LETTER BELOW
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