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VP Yemi Osinbajo

 

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has frowned at the re-arrest of Omoyele Sowore, the convener of #RevolutionNow and for this reason has rejected an award from the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism.

The Vice President who was a keynote speaker in the United Arab Emirates explained why he refused to accept the award for his achievements in the justice system of Nigeria.

In a statement by his spokesman, Laolu Akande, the Vice President said in view of the developments on Friday in the Sowore case, “I think it would be insensitive and inappropriate to attend the ceremony.”

Osinbajo then went on to thanks the organizers of the event for considering him for an award.

“I am extremely grateful for the recognition and award of the “Integrity Specialty of the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism’s Anti-corruption Defender Award of 2019” to me.

“The award, I note, is for our Justice reform efforts in Lagos State. I had accepted the award with pride on behalf of the excellent Justice Sector team we had.

“However, two reasons explain my absence. First is that I am currently in Abu Dhabi for an international meeting under the auspices of the government of the UAE where I am the keynote speaker.

“Second, in view of the developments on Friday in the Sowore case, I think it would be insensitive and inappropriate to attend the ceremony.

“Please accept my heartfelt apologies and extend the same to the other members of the organizing team. God bless you,” the statement read.

 

PMnews

 

Omoyele Sowore:
Omoyele Sowore:

 

The mishandling of the Omoyele Sowore case has become clearly an albatross for the Nigerian government, an embarrassment for the incumbent Federal Government and a public relations disaster for both the Department of State Services and Nigeria as a whole. All of that was patently avoidable. Inadvertently, the Federal Government has turned Omoyele Sowore into a “hero”, a symbol for resilience against official impunity in Nigeria, and a poster figure for courage and boldness. In using the law to paint him as “an enemy of the state”, they have ended up painting the Nigerian state as an “enemy of the rule of law, due process and judicial independence.” This was a station Nigeria supposedly left with the return to civilian rule in 1999. What is happening in the Sowore case is akin to a turning back of the hands of the clock. Whatever happens, the Nigerian government with the psycho/melodrama, last week at a Federal High Court in Abuja now finds itself in a Catch-22 situation. 

 

Whatever may be the weight and proof of evidence at the disposal of the prosecutors, the mismanagement of the optics and the process, has turned Sowore into a hero. If he is convicted in the long run, he will be considered a prisoner of conscience. Even if the Federal Government enters a nolle prosequi, and the case dies judicially, Sowore could run as far as he can on the global stage with the national honour that the Nigerian Government would have mistakenly bestowed upon him. He and his followers have shown a greater and better understanding of the dialectics of power, history and protest than the Nigerian Government. A basic rule in this dynamics is to know the enemy, and adopt a “counter-revolutionary” strategy. In this instance, the Nigerian Government has so far played Sowore’s game and I dare say they have played into his hands. Even if they win in the court of law, or succeed in further violating the orders of the courts, I do not see the government winning in the courts of local and international public opinion. For President Muhammadu Buhari who by now should worry more about his legacy, as the clock ticks and time passes, this should be a matter of great concern beyond the incredulous statements issued by Nigeria’s secret police and the unhelpful, chest-beating declarations on his behalf by Presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu. It is sad that the Buhari administration is repeating the mistake of 1984, most unnecessarily. 

 

Sowore is the owner of the game so far and that is not by happenstance. He may not qualify as a man of ideology to the extent that he is not popularizing either scientific socialism or its alternative, caught as he is at the intersection of neo-liberalism complexity and a revolutionary conviction that is couched in shades of populism and opportunism. But his mastery of the psychology of protest is unimpeachable. He is definitely not new to activism and its tactics. A graduate of Geography and Regional Planning of the University of Lagos, Nigeria (1989 – 1995), and holder of a Master’s degree in Public Administration, Columbia University, United States, Sowore’s life has been one of consistent involvement in protest. He was, between 1992 and 1994, President of the Student’s Union Government at the University of Lagos. This was at a time corruption and cultism were reportedly rife at that university. Sowore turned the SUG into a machinery for exposing cultists and corrupt elements. The University expelled him twice. It took him six years to complete a four-year programme. In 1992, he led an army of 5, 100 students against the Ibrahim Babangida military government. Many activists were killed. Sowore survived. He was also a June Twelver: the pro-democracy coalition that rejected the annulment of the 1993 Presidential election that was won by Chief M.K.O Abiola. He stood with other men of conscience at the barricades. Many were killed and maimed. The Abacha military hauled hundreds of persons into jail.  Sowore would eventually find his way to a life in exile in the United States where he created an online platform, Sahara Reporters, through which he launched another campaign against excesses in Nigeria. 

 

I know Sowore. Let me rephrase that: I know his type, that is his persona. There are people like him who are psychologically wired to find something to fight, or protest against.  It is the adrenalin that drives them. They are motivated by the urge to change either the world or their immediate environment, and they take on that task as a mission. Whoever tries to offer them a contrary advice does so in vain; they believe that it is in a life of struggle that the meaning of life inheres. This may place their lives and the lives of others at risk but they often do not care. Their vision of reality is to identify a fault line in the immediate environment and seek to change it. The more you try to persuade them otherwise, the more they insist. When they are bored with a particular mode of intervention, they invent new ones. They often come across as selfish, stubborn and ambitious, but the curious thing is that the Establishment in seeking to protect the status quo, helps the cause of such persons by going after them with the coercive instruments of state and power. For many years, Sowore was known as a students’ union activist, anti-corruption crusader, blogger and social critic. In 2018, he decided to join partisan politics. He founded and registered a political party, the African Action Congress (AAC) and was chosen as the Presidential Candidate of the party. His main message was that Nigeria had been captured by unconscionable, incompetent and corrupt  elements to the people’s disadvantage and that the country needed to be taken back to the people. He ran a spirited campaign, falling back on his old constituency – the youth of Nigeria and students’ groups across the country. He spoke the language of the streets, and relied on street credibility. He didn’t dress like the other politicians. He didn’t speak their language. He had unusual ideas - such as proposing to legitimize the cultivation, consumption and export of marijuana as a way of diversifying the Nigerian economy and expanding the country’s revenue base. He was a maverick, and an outsider, seeking power. As is the case with his likes, he made significant impact. His party, the AAC became an issue in the Gubernatorial politics of Rivers State, even if not in a manner he approved of. In the Presidential election, Sowore came tenth with 33, 953 votes (0.12%). This should not be seen in terms of the numbers recorded, but the impact that he made in an election that was marred by irregularities and reports of manipulation. He had no money, but it was clear he had a voice and a base, beyond the actual numbers. 

 

Sowore had three options thereafter: he could have gone back to the United States and focus on his teaching and blogging engagements, or count his losses and hold his tails between his legs, or perhaps go to court to challenge the outcome of the 2019 Nigerian Presidential election. Instead, he condemned the outcome, and launched in due course a #RevolutionNow movement through which he announced a plan to mobilise Nigerians generally to “take the government back”. It was a bold move. It was a courageous response. It was an act of affront against the government. But unpacked, it was obvious that the strongest weapon in Sowore’s arsenal was rhetoric, free speech, orange berets and placards. He had just a handful of people around him, wearing orange berets, emblazoned with the emblem of his political party, the AAC, and non-party members who also screamed that they wanted a “revolution”. As they defined it, they wanted change and improvement in the lives of Nigerians. I was convinced that given the sociology of protests in Nigeria, the #RevolutionNow campaign was at best academic, especially given the balance of forces in the country, with all the coercive instruments of state power firmly deposited in the hands of the Buhari administration. Existential considerations in Nigeria are also so tragically circumstanced. It would take more than the wearing of berets and the chanting of slogans to move the needle. Sowore’s activism adopts the exact tactics of campus journalism, students’ unionism and civil society protest. He does not come across as a man of violence to warrant the panic response and over-reaction of the state.    

 

But the state, represented by the Department of Sate Services, Nigeria’s secret police, over-reacted. On August 3, 2019 they stormed Sowore’s residence in Lagos and Gestapo-style, abducted him in the middle of the night, breaking down doors and windows. Members of the #RevolutionNow protest later went ahead with the protest scheduled for August 5. Hundreds of them were arrested across Nigeria, notably in Southern Nigeria where the protest was basically concentrated. Today, the public only hears of two names in DSS custody: Omoyele Sowore and Olawale Bakare (aka Mandate). It is not impossible that there are some unnamed and overlooked #RevolutionNow protesters languishing in some Awaiting Trial prisons in parts of the country. Five months after Nigeria’s general elections in 2019, it suddenly became a crime to use the word “revolution” or make any reference to “change”. Sowore and his allies dared the state and Nigeria found itself confronted with a most problematic post-election situation. My argument is: it could all have been handled differently and far more intelligently.  

 

By over-reacting, the Federal Government has turned Omoyele Sowore into “the Bobi Wine of Nigeria.”  Nigeria’s Department of State Services has only managed to increase Sowore’s political capital. 

 

He was granted bail on September 24, 2019. The secret police ignored the court’s order.  The Court varied the original terms, upon request by Sowore’s counsel and granted another bail order on October 4.  Nigeria’s secret police again disobeyed the court. It constituted itself into a Court of Appeal, and gave conditions not contained in the Order of Court. The agency further indulged itself with rationalisation that simply looked stupid in the eyes of right-thinking members of society: (1) “Sowore and other detained persons prefer to stay in DSS detention because the agency has five-star facilities” (does that sound intelligent?) and (2): “Sowore is better off in the custody of the state secret police so he doesn’t get killed by a hit and run vehicle” (auto-suggestion?), and (3) “The DSS could not release Sowore and Bakare because nobody had shown up to receive them (how about the counsel – Femi Falana, SAN,  who retorted that he had made every effort to receive the detained persons, now legitimately granted bail, but not even the Director General of DSS, who is well known to him,  would grant him audience?) and (4) “For Sowore and Bakare to be released, their sureties must report to the DSS and go through proper documentation” (was that part of the bail conditions declared by the Court – No?). 

 

In the face of public outrage, the DSS bared its fangs. When a group of Concerned Nigerians tried to visit the DSS Headquarters in Abuja to demand the release of Swore and Bakare in compliance with Court Orders, they were tear-gassed, brutalized, shot at and dispersed. On December 4, the court of Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu gave the DSS a 24-hour ultimatum to release Swore and pay him a sum of N100, 000 as damages or face the wrath of the law.  Clearly in response to the outrage and the vitriolic comments that the government’s brazen disregard for the rule of law had generated, and the threat by the Court to charge the DSS boss for contempt, the agency promptly complied. Sowore and Bakare were released. On December 5, both parties were back in Court and the judge fixed the commencement of trial on the 4-count charge against Sowore -  treason, money laundering, insulting the President and cyberstalking -  for February 11, 2020. The Judge even praised the DSS for respecting her ruling of December 4. But then hell broke loose as the DSS re-arrested Sowore within court premises without an arrest warrant and an order of detention and without recourse to the court of law. In 24 hours, the DSS reversed itself and in doing so, embarrassed the Nigerian government and exposed it to ridicule.

 

There have been conflicting versions of what exactly transpired, but whatever that was, it is Omoyele Sowore and his counsel who are controlling the narrative. Nobody believes the DSS! An intelligence agency should never lose the trust and confidence of the people. It must not become partisan. In 2018, a team of DSS officers attacked the National Assembly. In 2019, the same DSS took over the premises of a Federal High Court and abducted a man standing trial. Nigerians are convinced that the DSS is pursuing a political agenda. No amount of press statements can correct that impression at this point. The Presidency’s statement “in support of the DSS” is also absurd because it puts President Buhari on the spot. No state official should ever use the President as “a scapegoat.”  Others should take the bullets for him. The public has every right to accuse the President because he is the Head of Government and Head of Sate but to tell the public that an agency of the Executive arm of government can do as it wishes because it has a constitutional mandate and that the President should not be blamed is an endorsement of fascism. 

 

The Presidency is urged to take notice of the local and international reactions to the Sowore saga and retrace its steps. Release Sowore and Bakare, investigate and sanction rogue elements in the DSS, and design a strategy to change the narrative. Many revolutionaries often fail by overstretching their luck and by over-estimating their own preparedness. Sowore in the course of his present travails should also watch his back. His wife, mother and children want him back alive, and they have the backing of the United States and the Nigerian civil society.  He too should learn to live and fight another day: (because) “… he who is in battle slain can never rise to fight again” (Oliver Goldsmith). 

The Kano State Governor Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje has appointed His Highness, Alhaji Muhammadu Sanusi II, Emir of Kano Emirate, as Chairman Kano State Council of Chiefs.

Other members of the State Council of Chiefs are all other Four First Class Emirs of Bichi, Rano, Karaye and Gaya, Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero, Alhaji Dr Tafida Abubakar (Autan Bawo), Alhaji Dr Ibrahim Abubakar II and Alhaji Ibrahim Abdulkadir, who are also automatic members of the Council, as enshrined in the State Emirate Council Law.

According to a statement by Abba Anwar, the Chief Press secretary to Governor, on Monday, indicated that, Section 4(2) gives other members of the council as Secretary to the State Government, Commissioner for Local Governments, five (5) Chairmen of Local Government Councils one each from the Local Government Council where the Emir’s palace is situated.

Others according to this Section comprises at least Ten (10) Kingmakers, 2 each from the Five (5) Emirates mentioned under Section 3(1) of the Law, Chief Imam of each Emirate.

Governor Ganduje urged all the Council members to utilize the opportunity to serve the people in the state and to strengthen the Emirates and the traditional system of administration in the State in advising the state government, more particularly on security matters.

 

 TheNation

 

The Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism has suspended the presentation of award to the Nigerian Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo with respect to the controversy that surrounded the re-arrest of Omoyele Sowore by the state security service.

Sowore, the convener of the Revolution Now campaign and a former presidential candidate was detained for the second time last Friday by the Department of State Securities less than 24 hours after his first release, on fresh charges yet to be made public.

Nigerians protested the continued detention of Sowore, accusing the government of disrespecting rule of law.

In a press release signed by the Executive Director, Motunrayo Alaka, WSCIJ stated that the decision to postpone bestowing the Nigerian Vice President with the award for Integrity category was prompted in order ‘to align with protests against the repression of freedom of speech in recent times especially the incident between the Department of State Security (DSS) and Omoleye Sowore.’

The statement added that: ‘The Vice President himself shares this awareness and the inappropriateness of the award at this point.’

The award presentation programme is billed to hold on Monday, 9th December 2019 by 6pm. 13 journalists from print, online, television, radio, photo, and editorial cartoon categories will be celebrated. Veteran photojournalist, Sunmi Smart-Cole and Amnesty International Nigeria will also be presented honorary awards of the Lifetime Award for Journalistic Excellence and the Anti-Corruption Defender Award (Human Rights Specialty) respectively.

The WSCIJ holds the award presentation event on December 9, the World Anti-Corruption Day and eve of the World Human Rights Day to highlight the importance of investigative reporting as a tool for accountability, good governance and social justice in a democracy.

 

TheNation

 
 

More than 70 per cent of Africa’s estimated 1.2 billion people are said to be suffering from high unemployment, inequality and poverty. This is despite the continent’s huge, but largely untapped human and natural resources. Although, development experts blame this largely on inept leadership and corruption, they note that the time has come for governments across the continent to prioritise the maximisation of the abundant natural resources in their domain to put the continent on the path of sustainable economic development. OMOBOLA TOLU-KUSIMOreports.

It’s a disturbing paradox. Despite their abundant human and natural resources, virtually all the development indices in Nigeria and other countries in Africa have remained abysmally poor.

For instance, majority of Africa’s estimated 1.2 billion people continues to grapple with issues of high unemployment rate, income inequality and abject poverty, among others.

 

Inept leadership and unbridled corruption by most governments in Africa are said to be holding the economic growth and development of the continent down.

Rather than effectively harness their nature-endowed resources to develop their economies and become dominant players in the global economic scene, most African countries depend largely on foreign aid and loans to survive.

Weak democratic governance, lack of transparency and accountability in the management of natural resources, corruption, political instability and incessant conflicts, among others, are said to have kept majority of the people extremely poor.

Mismanagement of revenues from the few natural resources tapped has continued to fuel corruption, conflicts and poverty, which ultimately, hurt economic growth and social development.

Successive governments in countries across Africa have also not been able to pluck up the necessary courage and political will to build institutional capacity to curb the pillaging of the continent’s commonwealth.

 

The consensus of experts is that if African governments had built strong institutions, it would have helped in the inefficient and ineffective utilisation of the abundant resources and saved the continent’s pangs of poverty.

For instance, an October 2019 report by the World Bank stated that with good governance and transparent management, revenues from the continent’s extractive industries can reduce poverty and boost shared prosperity.

The report, which was accessed by The Nation, added that the extractive sector plays a dominant economic, social and political role in the lives of 3.5 billion people living in 81 countries, 51 of which are now compliant with the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative,

The bank added that the extractive industries sector plays a dominant economic, social and political role in the lives of 3.5 billion people living in 81 countries, 51 of which are now compliant with the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).

The World Bank report, however, said many of these countries still face a myriad of challenges such as resource dependency and weak governance.

The bank, in another report, stated that “Sub-Saharan Africa’s opportunities are vast, and its challenges persistent. It, however, pointed that the continent, which is home to the world’s largest free trade area and a 1.2 billion-person market, is poised to create an entirely new development path by harnessing the potential of its resources and people.

 

But, average growth rates across the continent are not yet reflecting this sentiment. Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa is projected to rise to a modest 2.6 per cent in 2019, from 2.5 per cent in 2018, which is 0.2 percentage points lower than the April forecast.

However, this masks big differences between countries. Four of the fastest growing economies in the world in 2019 are in Africa: Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, and Rwanda.

The slower-than-expected overall growth in 2018 reflected ongoing global uncertainty, increasingly from domestic macroeconomic instability including poorly managed debt, inflation, and deficits; political and regulatory uncertainty; and fragility.

It also belies stronger performance in several smaller economies that continue to grow steadily. At the same time, the recovery in Nigeria, Angola, and South Africa—the region’s three largest economies—have remained fragile and are bringing down the regional average.

In Nigeria, growth in the non-oil sector has been sluggish, while in Angola the oil sector remained weak. In South Africa, low investment sentiment is weighing on economic activity.

Excluding Nigeria, South Africa, and Angola, growth in the rest of the sub-continent is expected to remain robust, although slower in some countries.

The average growth among non-resource-intensive countries is projected to edge down, reflecting the effects of tropical cyclones in Mozambique and Zimbabwe, political uncertainty in Sudan, weaker agricultural exports in Kenya, and fiscal consolidation in Senegal.

In Central African Economic and Monetary Community countries, which are also resource-intensive, activity is expected to expand at a modest pace, supported by rising oil production. Growth among metals exporters is expected to moderate, as mining production slows and metal prices fall.

Experts, however, say that several challenges remain and are holding back progress. According to them, public debt levels and debt risk are rising, which might jeopardise debt sustainability in some countries; the availability of good jobs has not kept pace with the number of entrants in the labour force.

 

Also, fragility is costing the subcontinent a half of a percentage point of growth per year; gender gaps persist and are keeping the continent from reaching its full growth and innovation potential, and 416 million Africans still live in extreme poverty.

As the world’s second largest continent, Africa is said to hold a huge proportion of the world’s natural resources. The commodities include energy (oil and gas); precious metals (gold, coal, iron); livestock (beef, pork, poultry); and grains (wheat, barley, corn, soya); Softs (sugar, cotton, wood, sugar, orange juice), among others.

The countries with huge mineral resources and extractive industries are Angola, Botswana, Chad, Republic of Congo (Congo-Brazzaville), Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and South Africa.

A financial expert, Desmond Latham, during a presentation on “Overview of Markets in Africa” at the Sanlam Summer School for Financial Journalists 2019, stated that Africa accounts for 12 per cent of World’s oil, 42 per cent of its gold, and 66 per cent of world’s phosphates.

He listed others to include 44 per cent of world’s chrome, 82 per cent manganese, 95 per cent vanadium, 55 per cent cobalt, 88 per cent of its diamonds and 45 per cent of its bauxite.

He, however, expressed worries that despite these huge potential to lead the globe, over 70 per cent of the over 1.2 billion people in Africa still suffer from high unemployment, inequality and poverty.

However, initiatives like the EITI, Amnesty International, among others, have drawn worldwide attention to the need for increased transparency and accountability in the management of extractive industries.

As a result, a number of African countries, including Nigeria, Angola and Congo-Brazzaville, now publish financial and other information in the press and on government websites, including the results of audits and other assessments that have highlighted management weaknesses and other shortcomings.

 

Using Nigeria as a case study, findings show that the country was one of the first countries to commit to the EITI principles.  To date, its local process – the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) – remains the most ambitious and the most advanced.

According to NEITI, Nigeria has conducted and published independent audits of payments and revenues, and was the first to insist that information be published in a disaggregated fashion, making it possible to identify revenues company by company, category by category and well by well.

The country has gone further, commissioning and publishing external audits of the physical systems and business processes as well.

Recently, Nigeria’s National Assembly passed the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract Amendment Bill into law.

In a statement made available to newsmen in Abuja, by the Executive Secretary of NEITI, Waziri Adio, NEITI has been agitating for urgent amendment of the law to forestall further revenue losses to the federation.

Adio recalled that in March 2019, NEITI published a policy brief titled “the 1993 PSCs: the Steep Cost of Inaction,” which revealed that Nigeria lost between $16.0 billion and $28.61 billion within 10 years for failure to review the terms of PSC agreement, in 2008 as was required by the law governing the PSCs.

Experts across the continent, however, say that if the resources in Africa are to be used effectively and harnessed for development, more accountable and transparent mechanisms must be developed and supported by governments, multinational corporations, legislative bodies, political parties, civic organisations and the media. Governments must also give full support to the local companies.

Experts’ views

The Regional Director, Amnesty International’s Southern Africa Regional Office (SARC) based in Johannesburg, Deprose Muchena, urged journalists across the continent to beam their searchlights at the fantastic indicators in capital and financial markets along with the rising power of the extractive industries.

He said the continent is rich in natural resources, but poor in human development because its growth strategies are pure commodities. “But the problem in Africa is that there is no strategy to direct the process for economic growth into human development.

“So, there is a contrast that sits with countries very rich in natural resources but very poor in human development. So, for these three cousin countries, they have the tendency to induce the capacity of poor people to respond to growth.

“Until our governments take specific policy measures to direct the proceeds of growth from expatriate to human development, then we will not be able to move forward. Our product leaves our soil and goes to China and turns in like seven bye products and then produce jobs for them.

“Meanwhile, local companies are dying every day, while the presidents of their countries are travelling to foreign countries to seal deals and contracts. This means the future of African countries is heading to the doldrums,” he said.

Muchena said the way forward is for “Our governments to link and connect the dot between what is happening in our extractive industries and the very weak manufacturing base. We will continue talking about how rich our continent is, but populated by very poor people. Also, regulation by the governments is important.”

Investment Analyst and Columnist with Barclay’s Africa Stockbroker and Portfolio Management, Chris Gilmour, added that to make any change happen in Africa, there is need for a huge commitment to make manufacturing and extractive industry function in a better and more transparent way.

He said African leaders are not ready to provide solution to the problems that have kept the people in poverty. “African leaders understand the problem but they are not ready to provide the solution.

“For instance, Nigeria has businessman, investor, and owner of the Dangote Group, who has interests in commodities in Nigeria and other African countries. If you ask what that one challenge to his business is, he will identify bureaucracy and red tapism and this is true,” he said.

Economic Editor at the SABC, Ms. Thandeka Gqubule-Mbeki, on her part, said the reluctance by African leaders to implement policies that can reduce unemployment and poverty rate on the continent is what may soon lead us to the doldrums.

“There are policies that could be used to alleviate the pain of the ordinary man on the street and their reluctance to do so indicate primarily the desire to run the economy in the interest of the financial services sector shows failure on their part.

“The cost of capital is too high and this has made the manufacturing companies throughout the economies to be reluctant to borrow, reluctant to expand their production and also reluctant to employ.

“Consequently, the interest rate has not been good and the level of unemployment has concomitantly risen”, she added.

 

 

Chief Femi Falana (SAN)

 

Femi Falana, counsel to Omoyele Sowore, convener of RevolutionNow Movement, on Monday, alleged that the Nigerian government offered the activist a “death warrant” deal while in custody of the Department of State Services, DSS.

Falana disclosed that the Nigerian government reached out for the deal during Sowore’s first 45 days in detention.

Featuring on TVC’s The View, Falana said: “They went to a court behind us and got an order to detain Sowore for 45 days to investigate his alleged terrorism.

“At the end of the investigation, nothing was found but they went to him in detention to reach a deal.”

The activist stated that the DSS also reached out to him to convince Sowore when they could not persuade the Sahara Reporters’s publisher to take the deal he was offered.

“When they could not succeed, they met me and they wanted me to persuade him to agree to sign his death warrant and I told them off,” he said.

Falana said the intelligence agency “filed charges” against Sowore when they could not convince him to take the deal

 

PMnews

A secondary school leaver who admitted to working for several years as a medical doctor has been sentenced to 44 years and six months in jail.

 

The fake medical doctor, Ibrahim Mustapha, is however to spend a concurrent term of 10 years.

The High Court in the Adamawa State capital, Yola, which handed various sentences of six months, three years and 10 years on 10 counts levelled against him, indicated that the sentences are to run concurrently.

The presiding judge of the court, Justice Nathan Musa, who passed the judgement on Monday, said Ibrahim Mustapha needed to be punished for his potentially life-taking act of faking medical knowledge.

The judge said, “Only God can adequately quantify the damage you did as an unqualified doctor. Your act is condemnable and should be punished.”

The convict worked under the Adamawa State Government with a medical degree and professional license he took from a certified medical doctor.

 

He rose as an employee of the government to become a principal medical officer with Cottage Hospital, Fufore in Fufore LGA, but was arrested by the Department of State Services (DSS) in June this year.

The DSS director in the state, Bola Olori, had told the media at the time that Mustapha held National Board of Technical Education (NBTE) certificate, an equivalent of Senior Secondary School certificate.

Ibrahim had confessed to forging MBBS credentials at the time but denied insinuation that people died in his hands.

“Yes, I’ve forged the documents as stated by the DSS boss and also done both major and minor surgical operations, including caesarian section, altogether more than 500 surgeries without causing the death of any of my patients as claimed,” Mustapha had asserted.

The investigation the DSS carried out on Mustapha at the time had shown that he “perfected the illicit act in Gombe where he worked as a ward attendant in several clinics.”

The DSS added that he was aided by a practicing doctor who gave him sample copies of his NECO results, MBBS of Bayero University Kano, NYSC Discharge certificate and Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria annual registration license.

“The suspect subsequently gained employment into the Adamawa state Hospital Management Board in October 2015 as a doctor and rose to the post of PMO, serving at both the Cottage hospital Mayo-Belwa and Fufore,” the DSS boss had added.

Mustapha’s illegal practice had blown open when he attended visa interview as a potential medical team member for the 2019 hajj operations.

He had in the course of the interview run into a man who knew him in Gombe as a ward attendant in an undisclosed clinic.

The man who had been shocked to see Mustapha sailing in the garb of a medical doctor, had spoken up against him.

 

TheNation

 

The Nigerian Presidency, on Sunday, reacted to the raging debates and harsh reactions that have trailed the arrest and trial of the Convener of ‘Revolution Now’ agitation, Omoyele Sowore.

 

It said the government and its agencies would not stand asides, fold their arms and watch another latently dangerous agitation, like the Boko Haram terrorism and the Nnamdi Kanu-led Biafran agitation plunge the country deeper into violent crisis.

Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, in a statement made available to State House Correspondents, noted that Mr. Sowore, whom he described as “the agitator”, is not just an “ordinary citizen expressing his views freely on social media and the internet”.

According to him, Sowore, a presidential candidate in the last general election, publisher of one of the most widely read online newspaper, with base in the United States of America, now calling for a revolution to overthrow a democratically elected government, is definitely a person of interest to security agents.

He also pointed out the fact that the Department of State Security (DSS), did not need prompting from the Presidency to carry out its constitutionally assigned responsibility to arrest situations that are potentially threatening to the peace, safety and security of the country anytime it discovers it.

Read Also: We did not invade courtroom to arrest Sowore, says DSS

He, however, reiterated that there is no serious government or state in the world that will condone anyone or group that openly calls for its destabilization, adding that Sowore, with his base in New York, USA, had no fear of sharing in the tribulation that will follow the sort of incendiary he champion, as he could easy slip out to the country and leave the rest of the country to bear the consequences of the crisis he must have caused.

 

“The DSS does not necessarily need the permission of the Presidency in all cases to carry out its essential responsibilities that are laid down in the Nigerian Constitution – which was the foundation for the restoration of democracy in our country in 1999.

“However, it should not surprise anyone who has followed his actions and words that Sowore is a person of interest to the DSS. Sowore called for a revolution to overthrow the democratically elected government of Nigeria. He did so on television, and from a privileged position as the owner of a widely read digital newspaper run from the United States of America.

“He founded an organisation, Revolution Now, to launch, in their own words, “Days of Rage”, with the publicised purpose of fomenting mass civil unrest and the elected administration’s overthrow. No government will allow anybody to openly call for destabilization in the country and do nothing.

“Mr. Sowore is no ordinary citizen expressing his views freely on social media and the internet. He was a presidential candidate himself, who ran – and lost – as the flag bearer of the African Action Congress (AAC) in the February 23 general elections.

“Nigeria’s democracy was a long time in the making, and was achieved after decades of often harsh, military-led overthrows of government: the kind of situation Sowore was advocating. To believe in and desire armed revolution is not normal amongst ‘human rights activists’, as Sowore has been incorrectly described.

“Again, it is no surprise that he should be a person of interest to the DSS. Nigeria is already dealing with an insurgency that has left millions of people displaced and desperate in the northeastern region of our country. The Boko Haram militants, who are behind the violence, also fancy themselves to be fighting for some sort of revolution.

“Nigerians do not need another spate of lawlessness and loss of lives all in the name of ‘revolution’, especially not one that is orchestrated by a man who makes his home in far away New York – and who can easily disappear and leave behind whatever instability he intends to cause, to wit, Nnamdi Kanu. This is a matter for the DSS, acting under its powers”, the statement said.

 

TheNation

If the proposed amendments of some sections of the 1999 Constitution scale through, president, governors and lawmakers may face a fresh hurdle in order to be eligible to run for any office.

In the proposed amendments, those seeking to be president, governors, senators, members of the House of Representatives and members of Houses of Assembly, must posses new minimum educational qualifications.

The Bill which has already passed first reading, seeks to alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to provide for the amendment of Sections 65 (2) (a), 131 (d), Section 106 (c) and Section 177 (d) on minimum education qualification for those seeking election into the State Assembly, Governor, National Assembly and office of The President.

Senator Isfifanus Gyang from Plateau State and a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is sponsor of the Bill.

 

“The Constitution of The Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (in this Bill referred to as “the Principal Act”) is altered as set out in the Bill,” part of the proposed amendments reads.

“The Bill is seeking the alteration of section 65 (2) (a) of the Constitution which deals with the qualifications for intending members of the National Assembly

“The existing law which the Bill seeks to amend reads: “A person shall be qualified for election under subsection (1) of this section if he has been educated up to at least School Certificate level or its equivalent.

Section 65 (2) (a) is now rephrased to read, “if he has been educated to at least National Diploma level or its equivalent.”

The Bill also seeks the alteration of Section 131 (d) which deals with minimum requirements for anyone running for the office of the president.

The current Section of the Constitution states that the person must have “been educated up to at least School Certificate level or its equivalent.

Section 131 (d) is now rephrased to read: “He has been educated up to at least HND level or’ its equivalent.”

For House of Assembly, the Bill seeks the alteration of section 106 (c) of the Constitution.

According to the existing law, anyone aspiring to be a member of the House of Assembly must have “been educated up to at least the school certificate level or its equivalent.”

Section 106 (c) is now rephrased to read: “If he has been educated up to National diploma level or its equivalent.”

For governors, the same thing applies. The Bill seeks the alteration of section 177 (d) of the Constitution.

As it is currently, the Section states that the person must be educated up to at least School Certificate level or its equivalent.

Section 177 (d) is now rephrased to read: “If he has been educated up to at least Higher National Diploma Level or its equivalent.”

Until the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan set up a Constitution Review Committee, the Bill may not be read for the second time since there is no substantive panel to handle it.

 

TheNation

 
 

Mother of Omoyele Sowore, Esther, has made a passionate appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari, his wife Aisha, and other leaders to compel the Department of State Services (DSS) to free her son.

She made the appeal just as a former Police Commissioner, Abubakar Tsav, the All Progress Congress (APC), the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, expressed diverse opinions on the Sowore saga.

Sowore’s mother, in an interview, aired on Sunday by Television Continental (TVC), also urged Vice –President Yemi Osinbajo, Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu to intervene in the matter.

 

She said: “I am begging Buhari in the name of Allah to release my son. It has affected my health. Release my son for me; it is time to release Omoyele. Enough is enough. Aisha help. Everyone is preparing for Christmas and New Year.  If not for his detention, my son would by now be preparing to go to the village to meet me and everybody in the village.

“Everybody is waiting for him in the village. I am now pleading with President Buhari to help me release him.  I mean, fully release Sowore. It should be 100 per cent release.

“I am inviting all the leaders – Tinubu, Soyinka and the Vice President to intervene and help release Omoyele Sowore. He is not a criminal; he is a man of God. I know my son; my son loves everybody.”

But Tsav, who served as a police commissioner in Lagos State appeared to have countered Sowore’s mother when he said on Sunday: “If I were President Buhari, I would have taken a sterner step on him than what he is doing now

He stated that the Presidency was justified in likening Sowore’s case to that of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu.

 

Tsav argued that Sowore committed a grave offence by planning to stage a revolution after contesting and losing the last presidential election.

This, he said, implies that he wanted to govern Nigeria by force.

The former police boss said: “As somebody that was involved in law enforcement for 35 years, I will tell you the action and utterances of Sowore are very dangerous.  They have serious consequences for the country. This is because he contested an election and lost and the next thing we are hearing is that he wants to stage a revolution. That means he wants to govern the country by force.

“If I were him, I would have kept my mouth shut and comply with the conditions of his bail. But he did not do so. So, if I were President Buhari, I would have taken a sterner step on him than what he is doing now.”

SERAP however faulted the Presidency for comparing Sowore with Boko Haram militants.

It said: “It is unacceptable to compare citizens who are also activists simply exercising their human rights including freedom of expression with militants who are killing our people and destroying property.”

 

The group said what was happening to Sowore and his co-accused, Mr. Olawale Bakare, showed clear attempts to further silence critics, activists and the media while the Federal Government continued to undermine the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary.

The group tweeted: “We condemn the statement today by @NigeriaGov issued by Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant (Media and Publicity) to President Buhari, which seems to compare Sowore and Bakare to Boko Haram militants. To be absolutely clear: Sowore and Bakare are not terrorists.”

Also on Sunday, the ruling APC accused former Vice-President  Atiku Abubakar of spreading falsehood about the event leading the re-arrest of Sowore.

Its National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu said in  a statement that Nigerians should be wary of people who are bent on bringing the country down at all cost.

The party called on Atiku to apologise to Nigerians for misinforming them about what happened.

The statement reads: “Following the recent court drama that greeted the resumed trial of the convener of #RevolutionNow, Mr. Sowore, the PDP and its defeated presidential candidate, Alhaji . Atiku Abubakar have typically chosen to present and spread their concocted “alternative facts” and lies on the incident.

“The party will not be drawn into arguements over the powers of the DSS to arrest and re-arrest Sowore over his actions and utterances. The constitutional mandate of the DSS already addresses that.

“Also, the Presidency has clarified that the DSS does not necessarily need the President’s permission in all cases to carry out its essential and constitutional responsibilities.

“Again, whether Sowore flouted any of his bail conditions or staged the incident in court is another matter which the court and prosecuting agency should address.

 

‘Atiku in his horrid statement particularly accused the DSS of attacking the presiding judge among other lies being chorused by the PDP and their hirelings. Documentary evidence such as videos and pictures have shown that the tales are a complete ruse until anyone is able to present a contrary evidence.

“If Atiku’s intervention was sincere, having realized the truth, he has not deemed it proper to apologise to Nigerians for misinforming them on the incident. Instead, he hangs shamelessly on lies. A commentator has correctly described Atiku as “the king of the bandwagon.”

Meanwhile, Sowore’s lawyer, Mr. Falana,   has described as contradictory, the statement by the DSS on Friday’s incident.

He said the DSS made an unsuccessful attempt to absolve itself of responsibility “for the armed invasion of the Federal High Court, Abuja” and “the desecration of Court No 7.”

Besides, he said Sowore’s re-arrest was illegal.

“Having declared that the service arrested Sowore ‘outside the court’, despite the ‘stage-managing’ argument, what the Nigerian people want to see happen is the immediate release of Sowore, pending his trial as ordered by the court,” Falana said.

Falana said the facts show that the DSS was solely responsible for the desecration of the hallowed chambers of the court.

He added,“When I informed the court that fresh charges were being filed against our clients and that they could be re-arrested, the prosecution denied any such plan.

“As soon as the case was adjourned the SSS pounced on Sowore and caused a disruption of the proceedings of the court.

“Having taken over the courtroom vi et armis (trespass with force), Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu hurriedly rose and asked the Registrar to adjourn all other cases.”

Falana said the DSS officers were identifiable by their roles and acts of seizing Sowore and pinning him down.

He added, “It is utter poor reasoning to say that Sowore’s supporters were also those bent on injuring him in order to arrest him.

“The argument of the service in this respect is as unfortunate and pitiable as the earlier argument of the Service in respect of the Late Chief Gani Fawehinmi who was once accused of wanting to set ablaze his own house.”

Arguing that the DSS did not inform the court that Sowore flouted his bail terms, .he demanded his release.

 

TheNation