Globally, businesses and individuals bank on insurance as a protection plan against future occurrences. Meanwhile, in Africa and Nigeria, a lot of people are yet to tap into the potential.
Adebowale Banjo, co-founder, Mycover.ai believes this is a result of the lack of education and understanding of insurance as well as the issue around accessing the product. In his view, technology can help to improve insurance education through social media and technology platforms via their brokers or directly from insurance companies.
In an interview on Business Half Hour show by Nairametrics, Banjo who is a proficient executive with experience in Business Development, Strategy, Product Development and Business Analysis involving both start-ups and growth organizations, explained how the insurtech platform is using technology to improve insurance by using its API to ensure people access insurance.
“We have built an open insurance API that allows other innovators and businesses to embed insurance offerings into their existing product and services and what we are seeking to achieve with this is to help insurance companies distribute insurance products faster and cheaper and to create a better experience for users of insurance product and finally to create a safety net for Africa,” he said.
He explained that the platform makes use of technology to speed up the process in terms of what it takes to report a claim and also to simplify how documents are submitted as people are conversant and comfortable with communicating online.
He said, “The idea for us is to simplify access to insurance to give people great experience when it comes to buying insurance products, using insurance products and lodging claims on insurance products. Today we have a variety of products on health insurance, travel insurance, home insurance, life insurance, gadget insurance amongst others.
“We are making the distribution of insurance to be simple; we have our B-B-C platform which is our open insurance where we make it easy for other businesses to distribute insurance to people.
Speaking on the challenges in the course of building the platform, he stated that taking business ideas to fruition usually comes with a lot of bottlenecks, from trying to convince the very first person to partner with, to trying to get people to see the vision the same way that you do and getting people on board.
“We have had some of those challenges but I think getting people to understand and appreciate insurance has been the biggest change. But we are beginning to make headway in that regard, particularly because of the way we position that product in terms of the ease of access, distribution, making the tone of communication more friendly and acceptable.”
“In terms of challenges that I see in our expansion, it is just being able to find the right people to work with and grow in terms of tech talent to build the best products. There is a lot of focus on tech in Nigeria at the moment but the talent is not just enough to do the kind of things that you want to do and that’s why we expect that over the next couple of years, a lot of attention will go into structured education for young people so that more people can come into the tech space and the talent pool can grow,” he said.
Banjo added that he believes the startup bill also helps in terms of providing a regulatory framework for businesses to engage with regulators and with the government as they seek to expand within and outside the country.
Day 9: New week, new twist
The new week came with a new twist and surprises as the host, Ebuka, announced the introduction of two new contestants, Deji and Modella, into the house. Though they are said to be temporary housemates, the housemates are not aware of that fact. Though taken by surprise, the housemates welcomed the new contestants to the show. While Daniella made sure Modella felt at home, Kess seemed to have taken a special interest in her.
Day 10: Hermes becomes Head of House again
Some of the ‘Level 2’ housemates had their dairy sessions. Those who were nominated for eviction (Amaka, Christy O, Cyph, Khalid and Phyna) seemed to be more expressive as they spent more time in the diary room than they did in previous sessions.
Meanwhile, Hermes became the Head of House for the second consecutive week after winning the games for the day.
Day 11: Big Brother shakes tables
The ‘Level 1’ housemates had their dairy sessions with Big Brother.
In celebration of Doyin’s birthday, Big Brother gave Hermes a birthday card which he made housemates sign secretly. It was later presented to her as the housemates were preparing for their sporting task.
However, Big Brother was his mischievous self again as he asked Modella to ‘shake’ some ‘ships’ in the house, a request which took her some time to process.
Day 12: Groovy, Beauty join list of kissers
The housemates had a Showmax task where they showcased their talents. At the end of the task, Daniella and Modella were crowned the winner. They acted out an horror series which they titled ‘Alakada’.
Later in the day, Groovy and Beauty were seen together on bed together. The former dared Beauty to kiss him and she did not hold back. They joined other housemates— Eloswag and Phyna, Cyph and Doyin— who have shared kisses in the house so far.
Day 13: Housemates rock pool party
Christy O confessed to having a crush on Giddyfia though she also stated that she plans to keep it a secret. Meanwhile, Christy O and Ilebaye advised Amaka to loosen up a bit more but Amaka noted that she could not stay committed to one guy.
During the pool party, Beauty and Groovy shared another kiss. Meanwhile, it seemed Sheggz and Bella’s relationship is waxing stronger.
Day 14: Female housemates gush over Deji
The ‘Level 2’ housemates took some time to ruminate on their second loss. Brian was not happy, as he felt their performance was better than that of the ‘Level 2’ housemates.
Meanwhile, many of the ‘Level 1’ female housemates have been gushing over Deji since he came into the house. One of them, Doyin, stated that though she thinks he is annoying, she also likes his composure and style.
Day 15: Cooking time
Beauty shared highlights from the final round of her audition, which she thinks got her into the house. She noted that the final question she was asked was why she wanted to be in the house having already won the Miss Nigeria beauty pageant.
The housemates had to do a cooking task, where each of the two houses had to prepare two meals in the space of two hours, 30 minutes. They were divided into four teams. Team Caesar salad, which was headed by Phyna, eventually emerged the winner. Later at night, the housemates had fun at their party, taking their minds off the eviction on Sunday (today).
The South East Revival Group (SERG) has urged the Federal Government of Nigeria to immediately comply with the resolutions of the United Nations, UN, Human Rights Council Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, on the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu to avert a fresh war front, amid the current insecurity in most parts of the country.
The UN recently indicted both the Nigerian and Kenyan Governments for the extraordinary rendition, torture and continued detention of Kanu without due process.
Consequently, the UN agreed and recommended to the Federal Government to immediately release Kanu unconditionally.
However, in a statement signed by the President and National Coordinator of the SERG, Chief Willy Ezugwu, at the weekend, the group called on the Government to be responsible and reasonable in handling the recommendations of the UN as part of the bitter pills Nigeria must take to reduce armed struggle in the country.
The statement read in part, “For the United Nations to ask the Federal Government to pay adequate compensation for the arbitrary violation of the fundamental human rights of Nnamdi Kanu, it then becomes clear that the world body has found grave infractions in the process of rendition and detention of the IPOB leader.
“The President Muhammadu Buhari administration must be proactive enough to immediately free Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and open a channel for addressing the root causes of the renewed Biafran agitations in the South East in the general interest of peace, security and national integration.
“The Federal Government must learn lessons from the unfortunate but avoidable insurgency in the North East, which has spread to other parts of the country and escalated as a result of the arbitrary killing of the Boko Haram founder, Mohammed Yusuf.
“We, therefore, call on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately order the unconditional release of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and open a channel for dialogue with aggrieved citizens, not only in the South East but across the country, in order to find lasting peace in the country.
“This has become expedient as the Nigerian security forces will eventually be overwhelmed if avoidable war fronts are opened in all parts of the country, which will be inimical to national peace and development.”
To understand the profligacy, indiscretion and misplaced priority in the purchase of N1.14 billion ($2.7 million) –worth of 10 luxury vehicles by the Muhammadu Buhari government for neighbouring Niger Republic, ostensibly to shore up that country’s security, at a time when there is excruciating hunger in the land and terrorists are probably a mile away from the Aso Villa seat of government, you have to go way back to the year 1972 or so, to the reply of the late president of Niger Republic, Ahmadu Diori, when asked why Niger supported Nigeria as against secessionist Biafra in the Nigerian Civil War. According to Diori, as quoted by Temitope Ola in ‘Nigeria’s assistance to African states: What are the benefits?’ in the International Journal of Development and Sustainability, Niger depended on Nigeria for her economic survival. In his direct words, made in French, Diori had said: “Quand le Nigeria etermue, le Niger fact plus qu’attraper la grippe, il se trouvedeja a l’hopital” meaning, “when Nigeria sneezes, Niger not only catches a cold, it is already on admission in the hospital”.
While government justifies the vehicle purchase as a continuation of Nigeria’s national foreign policy, with its central focus on Africa, this has afforded Nigerians the opportunity to dig into the details of the so-called foreign policy. In the process, we found out that as irresponsibly profligate as the Buhari government’s vehicle purchase is at this time of national economic pains at home, profligacy and irresponsible spending has, since independence, hallmarked successive Nigerian governments’ national and foreign policies. This recklessness confirms the flip side of that popular aphorism that though Rome was not built in a day, Rome was also not destroyed in a day as well. Not only didn’t the prostrate and lamentable state that Nigeria currently finds herself begin today, Buhari, a known defender of his Fulani ethnicity, at the expense of Nigeria, was led into taking such a reprehensible action based on a Nigerian governmental pedigree of wastage.
According to January 30, 1970, edition of The New York Times, even after a ruinous, brutal and destructive civil war, Nigeria’s economic structure and promise remained almost unscathed. After about $1 billion was spent on prosecuting the needless civil war, Nigeria must have been one of the few countries in the world which fought an intra-national war for three years without any known record of indebtedness. With an economy managed by Chief Obafemi Awolowo, an astute manager of men and resources, Times reported that Nigeria adopted the “cash and carry” method for her arms and ammunition procurement. More astoundingly, she didn’t have to draw down on her foreign currency reserves which, pre-war, stood at $400 million.
Oil, discovered just before the war and comfortably padded by a fairly widespread export portfolio of cocoa, groundnuts, tin, rubber, timber and a “$30 million or so” which was in the hands of the marketing boards and private firms, kept the economy bubbling, even while the armaments of war zoomed in the air. With an oil production capacity which, as Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu declared secession in May 1967, was soaring at 570,000 barrels a day, Nigeria literally didn’t touch her oil during the war so much that by 1968, production had plummeted to 50 barrels a day. This rose to a record 550,000 barrels a day immediately after the war, with royalties and taxes netting an annual $100 million and which, in 1975, rose to $1 billion from oil companies.
Armed with hugely humongous oil wealth, a vast population and the mantra that a Nigerian was in five blacks gathered anywhere in the world, as the street lingo says, these soon “entered Nigeria’s head,” and the thought that the country could be an African superpower became a near-national ideological obsession. Between 1967 and 1977, federal government revenue was said to have soared by 2,200%. Nigeria’s economy was so strong that, on January 1, 1973, the country abandoned its pound sterling currency, a colonial relic, and created a Naira currency. Nigeria was managed by an exuberant crop of unaccountable military leaders who had scant leadership and economic training. The height of it was Gowon’s infamous statement abroad in 1973 that Nigeria’s problem was not money but how to spend it. The huge oil wealth was soon quashed on the altar of naivety, arrogance and knavery.
Going on foreign junkets became a pastime of the nouveau riche military elite and a consumerist pattern driven by an obsession with foreign goods. This grossly contradicted a budding ideology of a people who professed an African superpower. General Gowon, like Muhammadu Buhari, publicly known for his terse thirst for personal corruption, became a breeding pond for blood-of-the-country-sucking sharks dressed in military epaulettes. The governors began a mania of infrastructure driven more by an opportunistic craving to collect kickback from contractors than the need for development. It became so bad that in 1975, the Gowon government had placed accumulated order for 20 million tonnes of cement, paid for by Nigeria’s buoyant petro-dollars. The cost of the mind-boggling cement orders was put at about $2 billion, an amount which was a quarter of Nigeria’s oil revenue in 1975. This order was at the time more than the cement capacity of Europe and the USSR combined. Apapa was thoroughly overwhelmed and shipping lines all over the world scurried to Nigeria to take a bite of the raw, mindless orgy of profligacy. Most of the shipments entered demurrage in what was infamously dubbed the Cement Armada. It was so bad that when Murtala Muhammed took over from Gowon in a sudden coup and set up a panel to investigate the 12 governors under him, only two of them and two other ministers were found to be blameless.
The petro-dollar El-Dorado was so hugely provoked that every rural dweller in Nigerian villages wanted to migrate to the city. Prostitution statistics rose tremendously as did crimes. Girls became willing liaisons to soldiers in whose hands hid the famous dollars from oil exploration and their civil servant accomplices. Between 1970 and 1976, statistics revealed an upsurge in criminal activities due to the craze to take a bite of petro-dollars. An approximate 900% increase in incidences of armed robbery was recorded, with 12,153 reported cases in 1970. This figure soared to 105,859 in 1976. Executions of robbers, codified in federal and state laws, went on the upswing. The capital punishment for armed robbery could however not deter the spate of robberies because the petro-dollar gains accruable from the crime outweighed the risk of being caught.
It was easy for the exuberant military leaders, many of them in their 20s and 30s, some of whom were bachelors, like General Jack, the head of state himself, to extend the spatial control mentality of military psychology into governance. They easily keyed into the African superpower near-national ideological obsession and began to spend like Father Christmas, in the service of a foreign policy they devised, which was woven around Africa as the centre-piece. This cost Nigeria heavily.
Thus, in 1972, as reported by Ola, Nigeria signed a pact with the Niger Republic to supply her 30,000 kilowatts of electricity from the Kanji Dam hydroelectricity, even when local electricity needs were not met. Again in 1974, Nigeria donated millions of naira-worth of relief materials to the same Niger when it was ravaged by drought. After the widespread Soweto massacre riots of 1976, Nigeria brought into the country hundreds of “Soweto kids” and several other South African black youths and offered them scholarships to study in Nigerian universities. This continued to the end of apartheid. Nigeria also established a South Africa Relief Fund (SARF) in 1978 which Nigerians poured about $20 million of their hard-earned money. In June 1976, according to Ola, General Obasanjo presented a cheque of $250,000 to the liberation forces of Rhodesia through Mozambiquan foreign minister, Joaquim Chissano, in Mauritius during the OAU summit. Quoting General Joe Garba, Ola also reported that on April 25, 1976, Obasanjo handed over to President Samora Machel of the newly independent state of Mozambique the sum of $1.6 million as development assistance.
Nigeria also did this Father Christmas in her negotiation with and sale of a concessionary 90-day crude oil to South Africa, Namibia, Ghana, Niger and other African countries. Ghana and Togo owed the country over $30 million from the exercise. The Big Father Xmas also constructed an expressway from Lagos to the outskirts of Cotonou with several millions of dollars while spearheading the integration project of a regional gas pipeline for the sub-regional economic development. Nigeria equally established the Technical Aid Programme and created a Trust Fund at AfDB for Africans with a soft loan of $100 million left in the bank to be lent to least developing African countries.
In 1989, upon the paralysis of the Beninoise government by a bludgeoning workers’ strike occasioned by its inability to pay salaries, Nigeria, under Babangida, offset the salaries while also donating 12,000 tonnes of petroleum products to the government. The year before, Babangida’s Nigeria funded the Ibrahim Babangida School of International Studies in Liberia and donated seven Nigerian academics to its institution while Nigeria constructed the Trans-African Highway and bought over Liberia’s debt valued at $30 million. There must have been a-thousand-and-one other frittering off of the Nigerian wealth which took place undercover which are not open to the rest of the world, all in the name of foreign policy. For instance, as of 2009, Nigeria had sent about 3,000 troops to Darfur for the AU peacekeeping force. President Obasanjo also sent 5,000 Nigerian soldiers on peacekeeping operations. Also, Nigeria’s mediation and conciliation efforts in Angola, Chad, Congo, Cote D’Ivoire, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Lebanon, etc ate deep into the country’s treasury.
There have been several arguments from international relations scholars who aver that not being an island unto herself, Nigeria cannot but assist other nations, especially the ones that surround her. This argument is further bolstered by the fact that Nigeria herself receives huge assistance from developed countries of the world. However, Nigeria’s foreign policy has been left so much to the whims of the executive arm of government which then drives it according to the personal mindset of the head of the arm. It is why a cronyist like Buhari will capitalize on this unwholesome pedigree of Nigerian leadership to fritter money abroad in building a road into his Niger ancestral home, spend billions of Nigerian money on the tiny African country, and legitimize it by citing Nigeria’s national foreign policy. President Obasanjo and General Babangida, for instance, squandered Nigeria’s national wealth so unconscionably during their stay in office on what will appear as a mythical brotherhood relations policy, without corresponding benefits accruable to the country. Many of those countries on whom Nigeria squandered her national resources that could have been saved to build a today for her children demonize Nigeria and Nigerians today on account of the social and economic calamities that result, partly from such mindless donations and investments in their countries that were made decades ago. Nigerians today face xenophobic attacks from South Africans, for whose today we cleaned our treasury yesterday.
Almost as if it was perforating the thesis I have been sermonizing about since the beginning of this piece, on the scene emerged an alumnus of the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, MBBS Class of 1985, Dr Philip Ozuah who donated the sum of $1,000,000 to a hostel building fund project of the college last week. The news nearly blocked the social media airwave. In an earlier discussion of Nigeria’s Father Christmas role in Africa that I had with some persons, I was asked, put beside Ozuah’s gesture, what difference exists between Nigeria and Dr Ozuah, both having helped their needy ecosystem?
In some way, you could also throw Tobi Amusan into this mix. Amusan is the 25-year-old athlete who made history last week by winning the 100 metres hurdles gold at the World Athletics Championship.
Rather than counterpoise Nigeria in terms of similarity, I think what both Ozuah and Amusan did for Nigeria is what Leo Tolstoy called Loss as the elder brother of Gain. I explain: At a time, we thought our Loss was the national morale that had sagged badly in Nigeria, both in individual Nigerians’ willingness to intervene in the affairs of the other person or intervention in matters that affect the collective. Also, at a time when we thought that the name of Nigeria could never inspire anything good in the world, Amusan and Ozuah dismantled this mindset by presenting themselves as our Gain. In the words of Bob Marley, in his ‘Trenchtown’ track, Ozuah and Amusan both made Nigeria/Nigerians find “our (national) bread in desolate places,” among a world that asked, “can anything good come out Of (Nigeria) Trench Town?”
However, Ozuah and Amusan haven’t totally erased the fact that Nigeria is still a desolate place. If you listened to the maiden Channels TV interview granted by Festus Keyamo, the national publicity secretary of the APC and his haughty pee on the graves of Nigerians who died and are still dying as a result of Buhari’s effeminate fight against terrorists, or his cavalier dismissal as inconsequential and the over-simplification of the almost half a year stay at home by our university children, you cannot but conclude that though brains similar to Keyamo’s, since 1960, have profligately driven Nigeria back, the Amusan and Ozuahs demonstrate that even inside the tunnel, we can have the light shine.
The Registrar, Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, has said the conduct of its 2022 mop-up Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination cost over N100m.
Speaking on Saturday while monitoring the conduct of the examination in some centres in Lagos, Oloyede explained that rewriting of the exam became a necessity for candidates who could not participate in the examination during the main exercise in May for various reasons and largely due to examination malpractice.
He added that over 42,000 candidates were participating in the examination in five states.
“Rewriting the examination has cost the board over N100m. The cancellation of the examination in the 10 centres affected, was carried out in the belief that the board is conscious of the fact that no matter how few, there are still some genuine candidates among them.
“After a thorough analysis of the conduct of the 2022 UTME in 10 centres spreads across five states of the federation where examination malpractice was established to have taken place, it became necessary to cancel the results of all candidates who sat for the examination in the affected states.
“Other categories of candidates rescheduled for the mop-up UTME are those with finger print errors, BVN failure and technical issues.”
Oloyede decried the activities of the centres that were involved in aiding and abetting examination malpractice, saying the owners of the centres had yet to make payment for the exercise,” he said.
He noted that it would be worth the while even if it was only one candidate that could be rescued from the consequences of the malpractice.
“The candidates have seen for themselves that cutting corners do not pay. They have seen that they are repeating the examination, though it costs us a lot of money.
“The only shortest way to success is hard work,” he said.
The registrar stated that the fight against examination malpractice was non-negotiable with the board.
Meanwhile, it was observed that some candidates could not start their exam until about 30 to 40 minutes after their allotted starting time due to pressure on the exam officials as they were many.
It was also learnt that some candidates did not get to their centres on time, giving several excuses such as mistaking the WAEC testing centre for WAEC International Office for their lateness.
However, some candidates at WAEC Testing and Training Centre, Ogba, WAEC International Office on Agidingbi and the centre at the JKK House Ilupeju on Ikorodu Road, said there were no serious hitches while the exam lasted.
They, however, said though some of the questions were a bit difficult and the two hours duration for the four subjects combination was not enough, they were optimistic that they would pass the exam and gain admission to their chosen institutions.
The Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo says it’s only in heaven that there will be no security breach.
Keyamo said this while defending President Muhammadu Buhari government’s efforts to resolve insecurity in the nation.
According to him, the APC government did not promise there would be no insecurity, but promised to provide adequate response in tackling insecurity which they’ve delivered so far.
Speaking on Channels Tv, Keyamo said: “It is only in heaven that there will be no security breach at all and we have not arrived heaven and still on earth so there must be security breach.
“There are jailbreaks in America but that doesn’t mean government has failed.
“We didn’t promise that insecurity will not happen, we promised response; last week, we killed those in the bushes in Abuja. Abuja is safe now, there’s no incident around the bushes of Abuja now.
“We promised response and we’ve delivered well.
People should not engage in scaremongering, the bandits just want to scare Nigerians, that’s their oxygen, they want to create panic
“When you don’t give them that fear or panic, they go away.”
“Democracy is a journey and the quality of the ride depends on what we collectively put into it. If we shut our ears and our eyes, the ship of state could derail…” Dennis Odife in ‘Without Money and Without Price: A Brief Autobiography’, p.196 (2016)
In court around July 1, 2022, the chief judge of Akwa Ibom state in south-south Nigeria, Ekaette Obot, repeatedly threatened to jail my good friend, Inibehe Effiong, for his diligence in representing an unknown client against two powerful men – the governor who appointed her into office and a senator without whose influence she probably may also not have been in office.
Four weeks later, on July 27, she fulfilled her wish committing him to jail for one month at a whim before proceeding on vacation. The judge did this notwithstanding that there was pending before her “a motion….to disqualify and recuse himself (herself) from the case on grounds of bias or likelihood of bias”. At no point did the judge tell Inibehe what his crime was nor did she give him an opportunity to defend himself as he is entitled to.
The president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has gone on record to say that the course of conduct chosen by the judge against Inibehe “not only runs afoul of known practice and procedure in such cases but is also unconstitutional”. Other lawyers have described her conduct as judicial malpractice.
Madam Chief Judge may enjoy her momentary schadenfreude, but Africa’s history suggests those who abuse the rule of law – whether they be executive, parliamentary or judicial officers – in the way she has chosen to do almost invariably live to reap the whirlwind in more ways than one. A few illustrations may drive home the point.
As French West Africa prepared for De Gaulle’s self-rule referendum in 1957, Ernest Boka was one of the most promising stars in the region’s politics. In his native Côte d’Ivoire, Boka was eclipsed in popularity only by Felix Hophouët-Boigny, the wealthy Baoulé Chief who was the first black person to be appointed minister in France. Born in 1928, 23 years younger than Hophouët, Boka was a bright lawyer who appeared destined for greatness. At just 28 in 1957, he became chief of staff to the governor-general, before rising from 1958 to 1959 to ministerial portfolios, first in education and then public service. As independence approached in 1960, Boka was one of the leaders of Houphouët-Boigny’s Parti Démocratique de la Côte d’Ivoire (PDCI), who strong-armed other platforms from the contest, enabling Houphouët to emerge unopposed as Côte d’Ivoire’s president.
As Boka’s reward, Houphouët appointed him Côte d’Ivoire’s first supreme court president in 1960, where he initially proved to be a trusted believer. But Boka was always a man of the people with socialist sympathies. At 35, in March 1963, Ernest Boka resigned as supreme court president. Shortly thereafter, in August 1963, he was among hundreds rounded up under the direction of Houphouët-Boigny for allegedly plotting to kill the president with juju. A special security court sentenced 19 to life terms and condemned another six to death.
But Ernest Boka did not live long enough to stand trial. His lifeless body was found hanging from the ceiling of his cell in Abidjan bearing marks consistent with torture. In response to strong rumours that Boka’s death was not suicide, Houphouët-Boigny himself called foreign diplomats and correspondents to a briefing in April 1964 at his presidential palace for what turned out to be a trial of a dead man. At the briefing, Houphouët announced that Ernest Boka had confessed to an attempt to use juju to assassinate the president. As evidence, Houphouët-Boigny, a practising Catholic, produced two suitcases containing an assortment of magic potions, dried remains of dead animals and a collection of puny coffins reportedly seized from Ernest Boka’s family house.
About the time Ernest Boka was being liquidated in Côte d’Ivoire, a lowly court clerk and interpreter was working his way into reckoning in Spain’s African plantation in Equatorial Guinea. Francisco Macias Nguema was famous for allowing financial inducements to dictate the content of his translations. As one of few locals with a facility in Spanish, the colonialists came to hang on his every word, mistaking him for a man of influence. In one year between 1966 and 1967, Macias rose from assistant interpreter to become mayor, then minister for public works before becoming deputy president of the governing council. When the gong sounded for independence in 1968, he was well placed to be installed as Equatorial Guinea’s first president on October 12, 1968.
But Macias was unwell and given to outbursts of paranoia and violence fueled by dependence on tropical hallucinogens. Six months after being installed as president, in March 1969, he personally bludgeoned his foreign minister to death before having opposition leader, Bonifacio Ondo Edu, abducted from exile in neighbouring Gabon and executed. A reign of terror ensued during which Equatorial Guinea’s small population of professionals, including lawyers and judges were either killed or exiled. Rules were dismantled. With no judges, regime enemies were tried and executed by youth militias organised and administered by Macias’ nephew, Teodoro Obiang Nguema M’ba N’Zogo, an army lieutenant-colonel.
On August 3, 1979, Teodoro Obiang toppled his uncle and had him put on trial for mass atrocities, including genocide and embezzlement. As there were no judges left in the country nor lawyers to defend accused persons, the trial was conducted in a cinema hall by militias of precisely the same sort whom Macias used as president to liquidate his enemies, both real and imagined. Macias’ fate was predictable. On September 29, 1979, the militia found him guilty and sentenced him to death. Hours after his predicted condemnation, an elite military unit flown in specially from Morocco executed him by firing squad at the Black Beach Prison in Malabo.
Two years after Macias’ death, on Christmas Eve in 1981, the government of Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda abducted Malawi’s exiled, first attorney general and justice minister, Orton Chirwa, and his wife, Vera, from Zambia and returned them to Lilongwe. Orton Chirwa was the founding president of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), which led Malawi to independence in 1964. He was also Malawi’s first lawyer.
As a minister in the transitional government in 1962, Orton took issue with the presumption of innocence and burdens of proof in criminal trials, arguing for their replacement with traditional African norms and institutions. As attorney general, he pushed for these reforms but was turfed out of the cabinet in September 1964 in a power tussle with Banda, his successor as MCP resident before they were promulgated. Following the collapse of the Chilobwe Murder trials in 1969, Banda scrapped criminal trials by regular courts, transferring jurisdiction over crimes to so-called traditional courts, comprising a traditional chief as chair, with three citizen assessors and one lawyer. The traditional court system was appointed by Banda, who was both president and justice minister. They also reported to him.
In an ironic twist of fate, Orton would be arraigned for treason in 1983 before the kind of traditional courts he had advocated for as attorney general. His trial was a charade. The court denied him and his wife – herself also Malawi’s first female lawyer – legal defence or the right to call witnesses. Initially sentenced to death on conviction, Banda commuted this to life imprisonment. Orton spent the remainder of his life in solitary confinement at the Zomba Prison in Malawi where, in December 1992, he died at the age of 73.
As Nigeria’s military ruler from 1985 to 1993, Ibrahim Babangida eviscerated the courts, mostly precluding them by military decree from jurisdiction over whatever his regime did. In 1991, he issued a special decree making legal proceedings against his regime a felony punishable with up to two years’ imprisonment. Out of power in 2001, a successor regime asked him to appear before a commission of inquiry to defend his record.
Rather than do that, the man who made going to court a crime hired a coterie of highly prized lawyers to go to court and question the powers of an elected civilian administration to ask him to account. The case ended up before a supreme court presided over by judges, some of whose judicial careers Babangida had advanced. The result was jurisprudence that set back the powers of the federal government and the safety and security of Nigeria.
Africa’s history has firm lessons for powerful men and women who want to get ahead by retarding the legal process through abuse of the sacred trust of upholding the rule of law. The biggest argument for defending and preserving the rule of law is self-interest –000000000 those who degrade it often end up in need of it, usually to save them against their own temporary collaborators.
Karma has a brutal sense of humour.
One thing is assured: Inibehe Effiong is a courageous, vigorous and brilliant advocate who is destined to become a phenomenon in Nigeria’s legal profession. Ekaette Obot will live long enough to see that destiny fully realized. That is the least we can pray for.
CONTROVERSIAL Islamic cleric Ahmad Gumi has said terrorists are recruiting herdsmen to carry out attacks.
Gumi said this in an exclusive interview with The ICIR in Kaduna.
“The people that are doing this are called Ansaru, an offshoot of Boko Haram. They are not even Fulanis. But they are using herdsmen as foot soldiers and I heard they are paying them N50,000 everyday,” Gumi said.
He added, “During Jonathan’s time, they didn’t have foot soldiers to carry out big operations. They just put bombs but now, they went to break a prison and released people and they went with their people. They have foot soldiers. Where are these foot soldiers coming from? It’s these bandits. Since I have been warning Nigerians. These are not even Fulanis but they are only using them as foot soldiers.”
Gumi blamed the development on government’s inability to educate herdsmen and provide them with basic needs.
“I have been there meeting with bandits, trying to show them, educate them because they are not educated.
“Where do you want them to get their education and direction? Nobody. They are all uneducated and the offense society has done is to leave such a large number of people without education, without budgetary concern for their education, their health, what they are doing, what they are thinking. Nobody is concerned about them. This is negligence.”
On whether paying ransom is justifiable for the release of abducted victims, Gumi said the people have no other option than to pay the money.
“Nobody is justifying the payment of ransom but do we have options? You can’t give your enemy your money. But any way out?”
Gumi, in the same vein, warned against using the Army to fight the bandits.
“The army is very strong. The army can destroy this town in 15 minutes. The air force can devastate Kaduna if given the go ahead, they have that power. The tactics, they have it. But if I give you a hammer to kill a fly in this room, you may end up destroying my furniture and your camera and you would not get the fly because a hammer is not meant for killing flies.
“But if I give you a rubber flexible swat which is cheaper than a hammer, you can easily get the flies. So, the answer is not the army, not the DSS. These people are isolated on an island or in a forest,” he said.
Gumi said gunmen in the South-East, suspected to be members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), would be more deadly if they were operating in the same terrain as the bandits in the North.
“In the South-East they don’t have anywhere to hide. IPOB doesn’t have anywhere. But these people (bandits) have vast land of forest to hide and they are inhabitants of forest. It’s their abode. If soldiers come he’s the stranger they can easily finish him. If IPOB has the same facility to protect them they will be doing exactly or worse.”
He stressed that the IPOB is not being treated unfairly by the government.
“They are not being treated unfairly because they are attacking soldiers and civilians directly,” he said.
Gumi added that the money the government spent on the purchase of helicopters was useless and could have been used to build roads and hospitals for the herdsmen.
“It’s useless. That money could have been used to build roads, hospitals, amenities for herdsmen just the way we did for Niger Delta people. The way we pacified Niger Delta people, that is how we need to pacify these people. The best way is amnesty.”
Favour Ofili capped what was a wonderful day for Team Nigeria at the ongoing Commonwealth Games in Birmingham as he secured the silver medal in Women’s 200m on Saturday night at the Alexander Stadium.
The silver medal won by the 19-year-old was Team Nigeria’s last for the day as the country’s contingent raked in an amazing 14 medals on the penultimate day of action at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Ofili who could not feature in the 100m event having tested positive for Covid-19 on arrival from her base in the United States ensured she did well enough for a podium finish in the 200m and she may be making an appearance for the country’s 4x100m team on Sunday.
Ofili’s silver medal win is the second such medal Nigeria has won in the event after Mary Onyali who ran 22.35 seconds to place second behind Australia’s Cathy Freeman in 1994.
Nigeria’s record in the event now reads one gold after Blessing Okagbare’s 22.25 seconds blistering run eight years ago in Glasgow, Scotland and two silver medals.
In the other events concluded on Saturday, Team Nigeria’s Njideka Iyiazi and Ugochi Alam dominated the Women’s F56/57 Para Shot Put event where they won gold and bronze respectively.
Iyiazi won gold with a record throw of 10.03m, while Ugochi settled for the bronze medal with a decent throw of 9.38m.
In Boxing, Team Nigeria is yet to get its projection for at least a gold medal.
One of the country’s brightest gold medal prospects, Onyekwere Innocent could not make it to the final on Saturday. He settled for the bronze medal in the Super heavyweight 92+kg category
Cynthia Ogunsemilore also settled for the bronze medal after a 5-0 semi-final loss to Any Broadhurst of Northern Ireland.
The country’s hope for gold now rests on Esther Oshoba’s shoulders as she progressed to the final of the women’s over 54kg-57kg featherweight after a win over Tina Rahimi of Australia.
Oshoba battled to a 4-1 victory by split decision in the semi-final bout to edge closer to winning gold for Team Nigeria.
In wrestling, there was no gold medal on Saturday but two-time Commonwealth Games silver medallist, Ebikewenimo Welson, picked up the silver medal in the men’s freestyle 57kg category after losing to India’s Kumar Ravi in the final.
Hannah Reuben also won silver in the women’s wrestling 76kg category.
Ogbonna John won the bronze medal in the men’s freestyle 74kg; defeating Charlie Bowling of England in the bronze medal game.
Faith Obazuaye won Team Nigeria’s first tennis medal as she won the bronze medal in para table tennis.
Obazuaye defeated Felicity Pickard of England 3-1 to win bronze in the Women’s Para Table Tennis event.
Isau Ogunkunle also defeated Raj Alagar 3-0 to win another bronze for Nigeria in the men’s singles classes 3-5 Para Table event.
Ahead of the battle for the last set of medals in Birmingham on Sunday, Team Nigeria with 30 medals, 9 gold, 8 silver and 13 bronze medals, occupies the sixth spot on the overall medals table.
Team Nigeria in sixth is the highest ranked African country with South Africa and Kenya occupying the eighth and twelfth spots respectively.
FORMER Senator representing Kaduna Senatorial District Shehu Sani has said not less than five notable terrorist groups are currently operating in northern Nigeria, despite President Muhammadu Buhari’s pledge to end insecurity.
Sani, who was a governorship aspirant under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kaduna State, disclosed this in an exclusive interview with The ICIR in Kaduna.
He noted that insecurity has worsened under Buhari’s administration.
According to him, despite the promise made by the President to end insecurity, the northern states are being ravaged by different terror groups.
“What we need to understand is that the terrorists operating in the north-western part of Nigeria are not of a single organisation with a leader, they are diverse. We have the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), the Boko Haram, the Darul Islam, the Ansaru and the bandits.
“At least there are five notable terror groups operating in northern part of Nigeria. Now, the bandits also have different leaders located in different states, you have their leaders like Bello Turji, like Manjagara, like Baleri, and they have mapped out territories for themselves between Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna and Niger states,” Sani said.
He added that the bandits sometimes clash with other terror groups over territories.
Speaking on the attack on the Abuja-Kaduna train, Shehu Sani told The ICIR that the train was first attacked in October 2021.
According to him, a terror group attacked the train by planting an improvised explosive device (IED) on the rail but luckily the train was not derailed when it ran over it.
“The attack on the Abuja-Kaduna train started sometime last October. I happened to be a passenger on the train at that time and I raised an alarm that the train was attacked.
“At that time what they did was to plant an improvised explosive device and the train ran over it but luckily for us the train did not stop. “
He blamed the government for not taking action since the first attack.
The lack of action by government emboldened the bandits, Sani noted.
“At a time they only attacked passengers who are plying the Abuja-Kaduna road or the Kaduna-Birnin Gwari road or the Zaria-Funtua road or the ones in Zamfara State or Katsina State, but having seen that many of the VIPs have decided to use the airlines so they are only dealing with people whom they are not going to get much from, they moved away or not away completely from attacking passengers on the road to now launching direct attacks on towns and cities.”
Sani expressed concern that villagers in Kaduna State are being impoverished by heavy taxes and fines imposed by bandits.
“In Kaduna, almost all the settlements on the outskirts of the city are constantly under direct attack by these bandits and terrorists. They also evolved to a point where they impose fines and taxes on villages. At a certain point in Birnin Gwari local government, villagers have to gather as much as N40 million to give to these terrorists for them to be able to go to their farms and plant their crops and also they have to pay the same amount to harvest their crops.
“They have succeeded in impoverishing a large number of our population apart from destroying smaller villages within the expanse of Zamfara, Kaduna and Niger states,” he said.
Sani said Nigeria is at war.
According to him, terrorists from other countries are coming to fight in Nigeria.
“Nigeria is at war with terror groups and insurgents and bandits and we must find solutions to these because apart from our own home grown terror groups, it appears that the terror groups are also inviting other fighters and terrorist from other parts of West Africa and Central Africa to come into Nigeria. And because there is a systemic failure on the side of the government, they are becoming more audacious.”