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Posts tagged ‘Anambra state government’

Peter Obi’s Political blunders : Nzam most neglected community in Anambra • Pregnant mothers deliver at home • Hospital, electricity, pipe borne water and good roads rare • Bicycle a major source of transportation.


nzam Anambra

In this age of globalization and technological innovations, some  communities still exist as in the Stone Age era where all the modern  amenities of life are absent and citizens rely on nature and human  natural instincts to survive.
Nzam Community, the headquarters of Anambra West Local Government,  Anambra State fits into the above description.  A recent trip to the  community by the reporter confirms the lyrics of the song by Afro beat  legend, Fela Anikulapo Kuti that some people are “suffering and  smiling.”   A land so blessed with rich agricultural produce but yet  wallows under the throes of underdevelopment and government neglect.
In Nzam, most children have never seen electric light since they were  born, while access to clean water, hospitals or accessible roads is  like a luxury often dreamt of by the people but yet to feel it.
A turbulent two and half hours sail through the River Niger by boat  from the Niger Bridge Head brought the reporter to the precincts of the  community.  On berthing and anchoring at the bank of the river, one is  confronted with weary villagers loading and offloading agricultural  products behind mud houses and thatched roofs.
A narrow swampy road from the river bank leads to the community  accessed by trekking or boarding of commercial cycle a major  preoccupation of the youths in the area who have lost interest in  farming.
Though there were few electric poles fixed on the narrow road which  connects the local police post and an empty Health Post, the first  response one gets on asking where to charge one’s phone battery through  the public power source is a jolt on the real situation.
“My brother, maybe you are in a dream land,” the Okada rider  said. “Ever since I grew to maturity, I’ve never seen electric light  from NEPA here. These electric poles you see now are just fancy  decorations on the road because that is where it ends. We have no light  and our people only travel to Onitsha by boat to get the diesel, which  we use to power our rice milling plants.  There is no telephone network  too as you may have noticed that your phone has lost service as you  alighted from the boat. We are like people living in another planet and  what they do is to visit us with empty promises whenever election time  is approaching. That is all we see or get from them,” he lamented.
At the market square, though it was a work day and schools were in  session, many children were seen playing by the heap of sand beside the  community rice grinding mill.   Farmers coming back from their rice farm  all conveyed the yet-to-be-parboiled rice on bicycles. The local  government secretariat, which was accessed by the reporter on a  motorcycle through another narrow path with streams and locally made  bridges, was like a ghost place.
The sign post bearing the inscription “Anambra West Local Government  Headquarters, Nzam” was swallowed by grasses that it becomes difficult  to view the signpost from afar. The secretariat, though deserted had  some nice buildings. The old secretariat complex commissioned on 18th  February 1999 was built by the military administration of Uwakwe Ukaegbu  in Anambra. On enquiry about the state of affairs in the local council,  a staffer who pleaded anonymity alleged  that the members of the  transition council of the local government reside in Onitsha and only  visit once in month when their entitlements is released by the state  government. He said they immediately return to Onitsha in their  speedboat after sharing the booty for the month.

‘Our local government is the worst in Anambra’
An executive member of the town union, Kenneth Nwabunwanne in a chat with Sunday Sun described their local government area as the worst in Anambra State.
“During the flood crisis in 2012, our community was ravaged beyond  proportion and we are yet to recover from the immense destruction. But  before the flood disaster, we were living as the dregs of the society  here. We have a health center but nothing is inside so it is more like a  monument. When people fall sick, we are at the mercy of patent medicine  shops while there is no hospital or qualified doctors to handle  emergencies.  We have no road and because of that, we are cut off from  the rest of Anambra communities. There is no trade connection between us  and others because of lack of access roads while those who can access  this place through the river are very much limited. Our needs are  numerous that we don’t know where to begin itemizing them but all I can  say is that this place is the worst local government in Anambra State.”
Elizabeth Maduneme, a mother of five voiced the pains of mothers in  the community thus: “Just last week, we lost a woman during childbirth,  infant and child mortality is very high here because of absence of  medical facilities. The woman had complications after delivery at home  and before we could make arrangements to convey her to Onitsha, she  died. We don’t have roads, water and light.  All of us are basically  farmers here and we cultivate yam, rice and cassava in large quantities  but we don’t get encouragement from any quarter. During the rainy season  it is bye – bye to Onitsha unless you can use boats but if not, we are  cut off completely,” she lamented.
A community and its unique culture
Nzam community is the Ijam and Igala speaking part of Anambra State.  It is made up of seven villages, comprising of Etakolo, Odobo,  Udda,  Urubi,  Enekpa , Ndiokpoliba and Echa.
Despite suffering from government neglect, the people are a happy  people steeped in various cultural and traditional festivities and are  happy for that. An elder in the community, Chife Amekwe told Sunday Sun the historical origin of the community and its cultural activities.
“The natives of Nzam were the descendants of General Ajida, a notable  warrior of Idah origin in Kogi State. Ajida is the father of Field  Marshal Ogbe who was married to Iyida Ogbe and Iyida had five  children-Nzam, Anam, Anaku , Oloshi and Okpanam. Ogbe and his family  lived around Ankpa in Igala Kingdom.  When the Apa and Jukun warriors  invaded the Igala communities, Field Marshal Ogbe along with many others  retreated with their families through the present Ibaji jungle moving  Southwards along the course of the River Niger.  As they journeyed  through their way, various children of Ogbe for one reason or the other  settled themselves at their present locations. This movement from the  Igala Kingdom explains the fact that there are Odobo , Enekpa, Igah ,  Iyano towns in both Ibaji local government area of Kogi State and also  in Nzam town in Anambra West Local Governent Area of Anambra State.
“Between January and June, we have festivals like Ugwolegwu, Edo onu  Ananwulu and Enachune.  In the month of January we call on the earth  goddess to bless the children and bless our crops. The Ugwolegwu  festival has to do with masquerades. It is more of masquerade feasts  celebrated with different soups and rich fish sauces.
Enachune is the Iwa ji yam festival.  We do it religiously because  without that, the yam will purge us if we don’t mark the festival.  The  new yam festival proper takes place in August and we call it Uchuero.   By December, we mark the Eka ceremony which is more of thanksgiving to  God for life and bountiful harvest,” he said.

‘Only Peter Obi administration remembered us but we want more’
While the people of Nzam regret the seeming underdevelopment and deprivation of the area, many of the residents who spoke to Sunday Sun said that the entire local government area was like a totally forgotten  enclave before the Peter Obi administration. A list of projects done by  the Obi administration for the local council obtained at the local  government secretariat by the reporter included “Umueze Mmiata Anam road  under construction, Iyiora Anam health center, new bridges at Utolu,  Oroma etiti  Anam and egonwa bridge at Nzam, solar powered borehole at  the local government secretariat, Nzam and completed Magistrate Court at  Umueze Anam among others.
Jonathan Nwafee in a reflection on the development regretted that  most of the projects executed by the Obi administration in Anambra West  were sited outside Nzam, away from the local government headquarters. He  lauded Obi for the developmental strides but expressed optimism that  with the conclusion of the governorship and council polls in the state,  the governor-elect, Chief Willie Obiano and the new Local Government  Chairman in the area, Mr. Simon Mbanefo Okafor would give the area a new  sense of belonging in Anambra State.
FROM ALOYSIUS ATTAH, ONITSHA

Source: Radio Biafra.

Ezzu River dead bodies: Senate keeps mum on probe report.


ezu river body

One year after the Senate mandated two of its committees to unravel the circumstances surrounding

the over 35 strange dead bodies found floating on Ezzu River, Amansea, a town on the border between Anambra and Enugu states, it is yet to release the probe report.

MaceThe unidentified dead bodies, mostly males, were discovered floating on the river in the early hours of Saturday, January 19, 2013, by some villagers of Amansea, in Awka North Local Government Area of Anambra State.

The situation generated panic across the state as people wondered where the bodies could have come from, given that no community had come up with claims of missing members.

Two weeks after the incident, precisely on January 31, 2013, the upper legislative chamber, after an intense debate on a motion brought sequel to the development, by Senator Andy Ubah, PDP, Anambra South, mandated its Committees on Police Affairs as well as Security and Intelligence, to immediately carry out a thorough investigation into it and report the findings within two weeks.

The Senate had during the motion, entitled: “Strange Dead Bodies found in Ezzu River of Anambra State,” expressed concern that the inability of the country to unearth the cause of the incidence could adversely affect its reputation, hence its action.

The joint committee, headed by Senators Matthew Nwagu, PDP, Imo North and Mohammed Magoro, PDP, Kebbi South respectively, which was mandated to carry out an indebt investigation into the matter and report findings to the Senate committee within two weeks, is yet to submit report eleven months after.

Efforts by Vanguard to speak with the two committees’ chairmen in respect to their probe reports proved abortive, as they could neither pick calls nor respond to short text messages made to their known mobile telephone lines.

It will be recalled that the autopsy ordered by the governments of Anambra and Enugu states yielded no report.

“I think the bigger problem is not what happened but, where did these dead bodies come from?

“I think the river that is flowing, the dead bodies wouldn’t have just emerged from nowhere; they would have come from a certain place before they got to where they were eventually found.

“So, it is a bit strange. Even if they were in a boat that capsized, who are they? So, it is strange and we need to be very concerned about it,” David Mark had said.

“Unless we are able to say who these people are, I think there’d be big problem for us in this country. And it is not just about security agencies alone, I think every community in this country now is involved,” Senate President.

Source: Radio Biafra.

Obi Appraises Jonathan Instead of self, Says He performed well in 2013.


 

Gov-Peter-Obi-002

Anambra State Governor, Peter Obi, has given a pass mark to the performance of President Goodluck Jonathan in 2013.Obi said the present national administration deserves commendation, as it has made positive impact on the lives of the people since inception.He therefore, called on all Nigerians to give the president total support in 2014 to enable him improve on his transformation agenda.Obi, who stated this while fielding questions from journalists in Awka on New Year day, also listed areas in which Jonathan has done tremendously well.His words: “The President has done very well. He is trying to introduce a new order and the so much bickering as we hear are mostly from those resisting the new order; most of them being those that benefited from the old order.“Look at the power sector; the President has succeeded in unbundling the area and I bet you, in a few years, we shall see the effect and at that time, he will surely go down in history as one of the best presidents Nigeria has ever had.”Obi, speaking further, also compared past governors and the present ones, observing that governance was improving by the day in the country.“In the South-East, for instance, riding from the airport through Enugu, reveal commendable progress. The same with visits to Umuahia and Abakaliki.“Even among our neighbours, Delta has changed a lot; Akwa Ibom is no longer the same; in Cross Rivers and Bayelsa, one sees efforts to provide democracy dividends to the people. I knew what Benin and Akure used to be and what they are now,” Obi added.

Source: Radio Biafra.
By Wale Odunsi

Biafrans demand Ezu River Autopsy Report from Peter Obi.


ezu river body

The most outstanding issues in Anambra State today regarding the conduct of the incumbent Chief Security Officer and Governor Mr Peter Obi are:

1. Failure of Peter Obi to ensure effective investigation to unravel and/or disclose the whole truth about what happened to Igbo sons at Ezu River, whose naked and half clothed corpses were found floating on the river.

Governor Peter Obi’s brutish and arbitrary resort to ordering and personally supervising the demolition of properties of people accused- but not yet tried or convicted- of crime in the state, and

The role and use of the SPECIAL ANTI ROBBERY SQUAD (SARS) based in Awkuzu in committing illegalities and crime in Anambra State.

These three issues highlight the growing tendency by the Anambra State Governor to treat human life and dignity with levity, to circumvent the due process and resort to lawless approaches of governance and law enforcement capable of dragging Anambra state back to the Stone Age characterised by savagery.

The Anambra state government’s policy of arbitrary and illegal demolition of properties of persons accused of crime and the governor’s failure to ensure exhaustive investigation to unravel the truth about the Ezu River floating bodies possess the ominous potential of entrenching the culture of lawlessness and impunity, leaving behind a legacy of violence and disregard for due process and human life and ultimately undermining- if not- reversing the march towards democratic and civilised governance.

Biafrans all over the world, stakeholders in Anambra state, relevant state and federal authorities must take appropriate legal and political actions to check Mr. Peter Obi’s increasing recklessness and descent to savagery which will lead to a backlash that may be more difficult to deal with if allowed to become the norm of governance in the State.

THE UNRESOLVED EZU RIVER DEAD BODIES SAGA

It is an act of failure of responsibility on the part of the Anambra State Government not to have unraveled and made public the truth about the outrageous discovery of several floating dead bodies in Ezu River in January 2013. The danger in not unraveling this atrocity and bringing the perpetrators to justice is that those who perpetrated the heinous crime and others who may harbor or contemplate similar crime will be emboldened to repeat it. Public health and public safety are at stake here!

The bodies were first seen in the morning of January 19, 2013 by some indigene of Amansea in Anambra state who went to the river to fetch water.

Curiously, upon being informed of the floating dead bodies, the governor ordered their immediate burial, instead of ordering and/or ensuring an exhaustive investigation into the circumstances surrounding such horrific incident.

It is the responsibility of the governor, as the chief security officer of the state, to ensure investigation to ascertain the circumstances surrounding the discovery of such large number of human corpses floating in a river which is the main source of drinking water for neighboring communities. How did the victims die and who dumped their dead bodies in the river? To cover up such atrocity smacks of gross irresponsibility and complicity.

It is shameful and suspicious that up to date the actual number of the dead bodies is yet to be credibly determined. This is a pointer to the possibility that something is being hidden from the public. The failure by the governor to ensure a deeper digging into the allegation that the victims were detainees killed in police custody and their dead bodies dumped in the river by their killers is disconcerting and raises serious questions.

The Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) claimed that nine of the dead bodies found floating on the river were those of their members earlier arrested by security agents who raided their meeting venue and detained them at SARS Awkuzu. The ethnic self-determination and some civic groups in Anambra have conclusively asserted that the dead bodies were those of detainees extra judicially killed by SARS and secretly dumped in the river. We are surprised that the Anambra state governor has not taken this serious allegation which provides a clue seriously enough to ensure a credible investigation with a view to providing a proof or disproof for it.

The investigation conducted into the Ezu river incident by joint Senate Committees on Police Affairs and National Security and Intelligence was perfunctory. And because it was shallow and unprofessional, it did not unravel any substantial or far reaching information that could lead to a resolution of the matter.

Despite the investigation by the joint Senate committees chaired by Senator Paulinus Igwe Nwagu and Senator Mohammed Magoro, certain basic facts are yet to be established.

The report did not reveal the identities of the victims, their actual figure and the circumstances around their killing: who killed them and dumped their dead bodies in the river. These and many other basic minimum findings should have been unravelled by any serious-minded and thorough investigation.

The Senate committees’ investigation did not resolve the conflict in figures. While the IGP quoted 19 dead bodies, the DG SSS quoted 18. Other reports quoted 30 and more. How did the Senate committee, in its report, arrive at 19 instead of 30? It was also expected that the Senate Committee would require the police to account for the 9 MASSOB members they had in their custody before the discovery of the flloating corpses, since the police denied the allegation that they were among those whose bodies were allegedly dumped in the river.

How many family members of the victims did the committee visit and interview? How did they determine the type of gun used? Who shot them and why?

The Senate Committee and the Anambra State Commissioner for health stated that autopsy reports revealed that some of the corpses had gunshot wounds on them. Isn’t this a useful clue which needed to be further explored forensically? A ballistic examination of the bullets extracted from the dead bodies will determine the type of guns used to kill them.

The Committee also reported that the gunshots ‘aimed areas of the body: legs up to the knee cap and some up to the hips’. What did the committee make of this? Considering the strong suspicion of police complicity, why did the senate committee not consider it necessary to conduct or engage an expert to carry out an audit of suspects in police custody in SARS and other police stations in Anambra and Enugu states?

It appears that the police and the Anambra state government are reluctant to push the matter because there are strong indications that security agents are responsible for the killings.

The Anambra State Governor is yet to act on the senate committee’s recommendation “That the Anambra State Government should also be encouraged to carry out a more thorough DNA test on the bodies as requested by the pathologists.”

THE ROLE OF THE SARS IN ILLEGAL AND CRIMINAL ACTS IN ANAMBRA STATE

Governor Peter Obi and the authorities at SARS Awkuzu whose operatives operate as if they are above the law and beyond legal control and accountability. The failure by the Anambra state governor to ensure investigation into allegations that SARS Awkuzu was responsible for the killing of the people whose dead bodies were found in Ezu River and his use of the same SARS to provide security cover for the illegal demolition of people’s property appear to underscore this unholy alliance.

The SARS is a section of the Nigeria police under the Force Criminal Investigation Department and specifically charged ‘to combat armed robbery and other heinous crimes nationwide.’

But SARS in all parts of Nigeria have gained embarrassing notoriety tainting the image of the Nigerian Police locally and internationally, and should either be scrapped or comprehensively reformed to conform to modern standards of policing or human rights-compliant policing.

SARS operatives are known for arresting people for all manner of alleged offences, torturing, extorting and executing suspects and detainees in their custody and secretely disposing of their dead bodies. They also dabble into civil disputes.

The police in SARS, Awkuzu, Anambra and many other places in the country are being used by politicians and other influential persons to victimize their opponents or to settle disputes that are purely civil or communal.

The IGP is not unaware of this serious human rights challenge. Shortly after his appointment as Acting IGP, he was quoted in several news reports as lamenting that ‘

’Our Special Anti-Robbery Squads (SARS) have become killer teams engaging in deals for land speculators and debts collection…’ The IGP should, as a matter of urgency, re-organize SARS and the entire anti-robbery operations of the Nigeria police force, so as to insulate them from abuse of office.

Source: Radio Biafra.

Biafrans demand Ezu River Autopsy Report from Peter Obi.


 

ezu river body

The most outstanding issues in Anambra State today regarding the conduct of the incumbent Chief Security Officer and Governor Mr Peter Obi are:

1. Failure of Peter Obi to ensure effective investigation to unravel and/or disclose the whole truth about what happened to Igbo sons at Ezu River, whose naked and half clothed corpses were found floating on the river.

 

Governor Peter Obi’s brutish and arbitrary resort to ordering and personally supervising the demolition of properties of people accused- but not yet tried or convicted- of crime in the state, and

The role and use of the SPECIAL ANTI ROBBERY SQUAD (SARS) based in Awkuzu in committing illegalities and crime in Anambra State.

These three issues highlight the growing tendency by the Anambra State Governor to treat human life and dignity with levity, to circumvent the due process and resort to lawless approaches of governance and law enforcement capable of dragging Anambra state back to the Stone Age characterised by savagery.

The Anambra state government’s policy of arbitrary and illegal demolition of properties of persons accused of crime and the governor’s failure to ensure exhaustive investigation to unravel the truth about the Ezu River floating bodies possess the ominous potential of entrenching the culture of lawlessness and impunity, leaving behind a legacy of violence and disregard for due process and human life and ultimately undermining- if not- reversing the march towards democratic and civilised governance.

Biafrans all over the world, stakeholders in Anambra state, relevant state and federal authorities must take appropriate legal and political actions to check Mr. Peter Obi’s increasing recklessness and descent to savagery which will lead to a backlash that may be more difficult to deal with if allowed to become the norm of governance in the State.

THE UNRESOLVED EZU RIVER DEAD BODIES SAGA

It is an act of failure of responsibility on the part of the Anambra State Government not to have unraveled and made public the truth about the outrageous discovery of several floating dead bodies in Ezu River in January 2013. The danger in not unraveling this atrocity and bringing the perpetrators to justice is that those who perpetrated the heinous crime and others who may harbor or contemplate similar crime will be emboldened to repeat it. Public health and public safety are at stake here!

The bodies were first seen in the morning of January 19, 2013 by some indigene of Amansea in Anambra state who went to the river to fetch water.

Curiously, upon being informed of the floating dead bodies, the governor ordered their immediate burial, instead of ordering and/or ensuring an exhaustive investigation into the circumstances surrounding such horrific incident.

It is the responsibility of the governor, as the chief security officer of the state, to ensure investigation to ascertain the circumstances surrounding the discovery of such large number of human corpses floating in a river which is the main source of drinking water for neighboring communities. How did the victims die and who dumped their dead bodies in the river? To cover up such atrocity smacks of gross irresponsibility and complicity.

It is shameful and suspicious that up to date the actual number of the dead bodies is yet to be credibly determined. This is a pointer to the possibility that something is being hidden from the public. The failure by the governor to ensure a deeper digging into the allegation that the victims were detainees killed in police custody and their dead bodies dumped in the river by their killers is disconcerting and raises serious questions.

The Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) claimed that nine of the dead bodies found floating on the river were those of their members earlier arrested by security agents who raided their meeting venue and detained them at SARS Awkuzu. The ethnic self-determination and some civic groups in Anambra have conclusively asserted that the dead bodies were those of detainees extra judicially killed by SARS and secretly dumped in the river. We are surprised that the Anambra state governor has not taken this serious allegation which provides a clue seriously enough to ensure a credible investigation with a view to providing a proof or disproof for it.

The investigation conducted into the Ezu river incident by joint Senate Committees on Police Affairs and National Security and Intelligence was perfunctory. And because it was shallow and unprofessional, it did not unravel any substantial or far reaching information that could lead to a resolution of the matter.

Despite the investigation by the joint Senate committees chaired by Senator Paulinus Igwe Nwagu and Senator Mohammed Magoro, certain basic facts are yet to be established.

The report did not reveal the identities of the victims, their actual figure and the circumstances around their killing: who killed them and dumped their dead bodies in the river. These and many other basic minimum findings should have been unravelled by any serious-minded and thorough investigation.

The Senate committees’ investigation did not resolve the conflict in figures. While the IGP quoted 19 dead bodies, the DG SSS quoted 18. Other reports quoted 30 and more. How did the Senate committee, in its report, arrive at 19 instead of 30? It was also expected that the Senate Committee would require the police to account for the 9 MASSOB members they had in their custody before the discovery of the flloating corpses, since the police denied the allegation that they were among those whose bodies were allegedly dumped in the river.

How many family members of the victims did the committee visit and interview? How did they determine the type of gun used? Who shot them and why?

The Senate Committee and the Anambra State Commissioner for health stated that autopsy reports revealed that some of the corpses had gunshot wounds on them. Isn’t this a useful clue which needed to be further explored forensically? A ballistic examination of the bullets extracted from the dead bodies will determine the type of guns used to kill them.

The Committee also reported that the gunshots ‘aimed areas of the body: legs up to the knee cap and some up to the hips’. What did the committee make of this? Considering the strong suspicion of police complicity, why did the senate committee not consider it necessary to conduct or engage an expert to carry out an audit of suspects in police custody in SARS and other police stations in Anambra and Enugu states?

It appears that the police and the Anambra state government are reluctant to push the matter because there are strong indications that security agents are responsible for the killings.

The Anambra State Governor is yet to act on the senate committee’s recommendation “That the Anambra State Government should also be encouraged to carry out a more thorough DNA test on the bodies as requested by the pathologists.”

THE ROLE OF THE SARS IN ILLEGAL AND CRIMINAL ACTS IN ANAMBRA STATE

Governor Peter Obi and the authorities at SARS Awkuzu whose operatives operate as if they are above the law and beyond legal control and accountability. The failure by the Anambra state governor to ensure investigation into allegations that SARS Awkuzu was responsible for the killing of the people whose dead bodies were found in Ezu River and his use of the same SARS to provide security cover for the illegal demolition of people’s property appear to underscore this unholy alliance.

The SARS is a section of the Nigeria police under the Force Criminal Investigation Department and specifically charged ‘to combat armed robbery and other heinous crimes nationwide.’

But SARS in all parts of Nigeria have gained embarrassing notoriety tainting the image of the Nigerian Police locally and internationally, and should either be scrapped or comprehensively reformed to conform to modern standards of policing or human rights-compliant policing.

SARS operatives are known for arresting people for all manner of alleged offences, torturing, extorting and executing suspects and detainees in their custody and secretely disposing of their dead bodies. They also dabble into civil disputes.

The police in SARS, Awkuzu, Anambra and many other places in the country are being used by politicians and other influential persons to victimize their opponents or to settle disputes that are purely civil or communal.

The IGP is not unaware of this serious human rights challenge. Shortly after his appointment as Acting IGP, he was quoted in several news reports as lamenting that ‘

’Our Special Anti-Robbery Squads (SARS) have become killer teams engaging in deals for land speculators and debts collection…’ The IGP should, as a matter of urgency, re-organize SARS and the entire anti-robbery operations of the Nigeria police force, so as to insulate them from abuse of office.

Source: Radio Biafra.

The Lagos Deportation And The Law By Femi Falana.


Femi Falana
By Femi Falana

Deportation of dissidents :  In 1885 the British colonial regime deported King Jaja of Opobo to a remote island in West Indies where he died in 1889. His offence was that he had challenged the imperialist control of the coastal trade. In 1941 Comrade Michael Imoudu, President of the Nigerian Union of Railwaymen was deported from Lagos  and banished to his hometown, Auchi in the Benin Province as he was considered “a potential threat to public safety” . He only returned to Lagos in 1945 following the revocation of sections 57-63 of the General Defence Regulation, 1941 under which he had been detained. There were other nationalist agitators and labour leaders who were deported and banished to prevent them from taking part in the struggle against colonialism. The barbaric practice of deporting Nigerians was resuscitated by the defunct military dictatorship. In particular, the reactionary regimes of Generals Ibrahim Babangida and Sani Abacha resorted to the crude harassment of political opponents by deportation.

In 1992 the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi SAN, Dr Beko Ransome -Kuti and I were deported from Lagos and detained at Kuje prison for challenging the unending military rule of the Babangida junta. The retired General Zamani Lekwot was deported from Kaduna and detained with us in the prison. The following year we were also repatriated from Lagos and banished to the same prison for leading peaceful rallies in Lagos against the criminal annulment of the June 12 presidential election. In June 1994, the winner of the presidential election, Chief MKO Abiola was deported from Lagos and detained in military custody in Kano, Borno and Abuja.

In 1995, the chairman of the Campaign for Democracy (CD), Dr. Beko Ransome-Kuti alerted the world that the secret trial of General Olusegun Obasanjo and others by a Special Military Tribunal had been concluded and that the convicts were being prepared for execution. For leaking such information to the media the human rights leader was tried in Lagos, jailed for life  and deported to Katsina prison. The CD vice chairman, Shehu Sanni was arrested in Kaduna, jailed for life in Lagos and banished to Kirikiri maximum prison in Apapa.  Four journalists viz: Chris Anyanwu, Kunle Ajibade, Charles Mbah and Charles Obi who were convicted for being accessories after the fact of treason i.e the 1995 phantom coup, were deported from Lagos and kept in separate prisons in the northern states.

In 1996, Chief Fawehinmi SAN was once again deported from Lagos and detained at the Bauchi prison while Femi Aborishade and I were deported from Lagos and held at the Gumel and Mawadashi prisons (in Jigawa State) respectively. Comrade Frank Kokori who was arrested in Lagos was banished to Bama prisons in Borno state for 4 years.  General Obasanjo who was convicted in Lagos was deported to Yola prison. His ex-deputy, General Shehu Yaradua was deported from Kaduna, convicted in Lagos and held at various times in Kirikiri, Port Harcourt and Abakaliki prisons.

Like King Jaja both Chief Abiola and General Yaradua died in suspicious circumstances while they were in custody. But as deportation of colonial subject subjects could not be justified even under colonial rule it was carried out pursuant to special regulations. In the same vein, the military dictators engaged in deportation of citizens under the preventive detention decrees and the Prison Act.

Deportation of Poor People

It is common knowledge that the beautification project of the Babatunde Fashola Administration has led to the deportation of hundreds of the jetsam and the flotsam from Lagos state to their states of origin. The elite and the media have been celebrating the ban on “Okada” from the major roads and the removal of traders and area boys from the streets. For understandable reasons, most of  the hundreds of  thousands of poor people who have been displaced and dislodged in the operation “keep Lagos clean” are of the Yoruba extraction.

In fact, on April 9,2009, when the Lagos state government deported 129 beggars of Oyo state origin and dumped them at Molete in Ibadan the Alao Akala regime alleged that the action was aimed at sabotaging his government. Just last week, some beggars of osun state origin were also deported by the Lagos state government and dumped at Osogbo.

It is sad to note that most Nigerians never took cognisance of the war being waged by state governments against the poor and disadvantaged citizens in the urban renewal policy until the much-publicized case of the 14 beggars of Anambra state origin who were deported in Lagos and dumped in Onitsha about three weeks ago. In fact, it was the condemnation of the deportation by the Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi that drew the attention of the elite to the unfortunate development. However, in defence of its action the Lagos State Government stated that it entered into an agreement with the Anambra State Government through its liaison office in Lagos on the controversial deportation.

Although the Anambra State government has not denied the allegation that it was privy to the deportation of the 14 beggars it is on record that in December 2011 Governor Peter Obi Administration had deported 29 beggars to their states of origin i.e Akwa Ibom and Ebonyi states. Apart from such official hypocrisy the Peter Obi regime did not deem it fit to protest when the Abia state government purged its civil service of  “non-indigenes” in 2012. Many of the victims of the unjust policy who hail from Anambra state were left in the lurch.

In June 2011, the Federal Capital Territory government deported 129 beggars to their respective states of origin. In May 2013, hundreds of beggars were also removed from the streets and expelled from Abuja. Of course, it is common knowledge that the FCT authorities has continued to demolish residential houses without following due process in order to “restore the masterplan of Abuja” which was distorted through corruption and abuse of office. The majority of the victims of such illegal demolitions who are poor have been dislocated and forced out of FCT.

Last week, the Rivers State Government removed 113 Nigerians from the streets of Port Harcourt and deported them to their states of origin. The Akwa Ibom state government has just contacted its Lagos counterpart of the planned deportation of two “mad” Lagosians roaming the streets of Uyo. Many other state governments are busy deporting beggars, mad men and other destitute in the on-going beautification of state capitals. Those who are defending the Igbo beggars out of sheer ethnic irredentism should be advised to examine the socio-economic implications of the anti-people’s urbanisation policy being implemented by the federal and state  governments in the overall interests of the masses.

The Illegality of Internal Deportation

Since deportation has been resuscitated under the current political dispensation it has become pertinent to examine the legal implications of the forceful deportation of a group of citizens on account of their impecunious status. Although street trading and begging have been banned in some states It is submitted, without any fear of contradiction, that there is no existing law in Nigeria which has empowered the federal and state governments to deport any group of Nigerian citizens to their states of origin.

Accordingly, the forceful removal of beggars  from their chosen abode and  repatriation to their states of origin are illegal and unconstitutional as they violate the fundamental rights of such citizens  enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended. In particular, deportation is an afront  to the human rights of the beggars to dignity of their persons (Section 34), personal liberty (Section 35), freedom of movement (Section 41), and right of residence in any part of Nigeria (Section 43).

Furthermore, the deportation of beggars and other poor people by the Federal and State Governments is a repudiation of section 15 of the Constitution which has imposed a duty on the State to promote national integration. Since the polical  objective of the State imposes a duty on the governments to “secure full residence rights for every citizen in all parts of the Federation” it is illegal to remove poor people from the streets of state capitals without providing them with alternative accommodation. By targetting beggars and the destitute and deporting them to their states of origin the state governments involved are violating Section 42 of the Constitution which has outlawed discrimination on the basis of place of birth or state of origin.

In so far as Article 2 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (Cap A9) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 has specifically banned discriminatory treatment on the ground of “social origin, fortune, birth or other status” it is indefensible to subject any group of citizens to harrassment on account of their economic status. An urban renewal  policy that has provision for only the rich cannot be justified under Article 13 of the African Charter which provides that every citizen shall have equal access to the public services of the country.

In the celebrated case of the Minister of  Internal Affairs v. Alhaji Shugaba Abdulraham Darma (1982) 3 N.C.L.R. 915 the Court of Appeal upheld the verdict of the Borno State High Court which had held that the deportation of the Respondent (Alhaji Shugaba) from Nigeria to Chad by the Federal Government constituted “a violation of his fundamental rights to person liberty, privacy and freedom to move freely throughout Nigeria.” In the Director, State Security Service v. Olisa Agbakoba (1999) 3 NWLR (PT 595) 314 at 356 the Supreme Court reiterated that “It is not in dispute that the Constitution gives to the Nigerian citizen the right to move freely throughout Nigeria and to reside in any part thereof.”

Since deportation has denied the vicctims the fundamental right to move freely and reside in any state of their choice it is illegal and unconstitutional. It is indubitably clear   that the fundamental human rights guaranteed by the Constitution and the African Charter Act are not for the exclusive preserve of the bourgeoisie but for the enjoyment of all Nigerian citizens including beggars and other economically marginalised people. To that extent no state governments has the power to deport or enter into agreements to repatriate any group of  citizens to their states of origin.

The Socio-economic Challenge of Deportation

It ought to be made clear to the managers of the neo-colonial state that there is no country which promotes social inequality that has successfully outlawed the poor  from existence. This explains why beggars are found in large numbers  on the streets of major cities and in the ghettos of the United States of America – the bastion of capitalism. The situation is bound to be worse in the periphery of capitalism like Nigeria where the poverty rate has reached an alarming proportion due to the failure  of the State to provide for the welfare and security of the people  which is the primary purpose of government.

The Federal and State governments should also be made to realize at all times that beggars are Nigerian citizens who lack money, food and other basic facilities to live decent lives. The authorities should stop stigmatizing and harassing them and other citizens who have been pushed to a state of penury by the gross mismanagement of the economy by a selfish and short sighted ruling class. A nation that complaints of inadequate funds to establish a social security scheme for the majority of the people allowed a cartel of fuel importers to corner $16 billion while oil thieves stole crude oil worth $7 billion   on the high seas in 2011 alone.

Yet the influential oil thieves and pirates  are walking free on the streets of our state capitals without any official harassment. Others who engage in unprecedented corruption, fraud and other financial and economic crimes have never been deported to their states of origin. It is high time the   government was restrained from  holding the poor vicariously liable for the crisis of underdevelopment of the country. Therefore, part of the billions of naira being earmarked to build mega cities should be set aside for the rehabilitation of beggars and the destitute.

There is no doubt that Lagos state is put under severe pressure, from time to time, by millions of Nigerians who have been economically displaced in their own states of origin. But unlike its counterparts the Lagos state government has devised effective strategies to compel the rich to pay taxes through their noses. In addition the monthly statutory allocation of the state from the federation account is partly based on its population. In the circumstance, the Lagos state government should take from the rich to service the poor. As in the case of most of the “area boys” who have been productively engaged by the Fashola Administration the Lagos state government should  formulate programmes for the  rehabilitation and resettlement of beggars and other destitute to make them contribute to the economy of the state.

Conclusion

In his inaugural address on January 20, 1961 the United States President, Mr. J.F. Kennedy warned that “if a free society cannot help the many who are poor it cannot save the few who are rich”. About 40 years later, those cautionary words resonated in the case of Hoffman v. South African Airways (2001) CHR 329 at 354 where Justice Ngcobo of the Constitutional Court of South Africa stated that “Our Constitution protects the weak, the marginalized, the socially outcast and the victims of prejudice and stereotyping. It is only when these groups are protected that we can be secure that our own rights are  protected.”

With respect to the  implementation of neo-liberal policies that have continued to pauperise our people i am compelled to remind the ruling class in Nigeria of the plea made by the Late Dr. Akinola Aguda in 1985 that “our new perspective in law and justice must be such as to guarantee to each of our people food, drink, lodging, clothing, education and employment in addition to the rights guaranteed to him so far by our Constitution and our laws, so that justice may mean the same thing to everyone.”

Finally, since the deporting state governments have no immigration officials to police their borders there is no assurance that the deportees will not find  their way back to where they were deported . However in view of the illegality of the deportation of poor people the governments of the federal capital territory and  the respective states are advised to stop it without any further delay. If the practice is not discontinued the deporting state governments should be prepared to defend their action in Court. Sooner than later.

FEMI FALANA, SAN

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

Brewery scandal: Peter Obi must go.


Gov. Peter Obi of Anambra State

A former member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Chudi
Offodile has asked for the removal of Gov. Peter Obi of Anambra
over the controversial Sabmiller Brewery located in Onitsha area
of the state.

In a statement, Offodile said it is obvious that Obi is the owner of
the brewery, which was funded with the state’s money.

He said since he revealed the scandal to the public, Obi has not
denied it “but resorted to calling him all sorts of names.”

According to him, a press statement by an aide of the governor
only went further to confirm his position that Obi owned the
brewery.

“I had raised the issue of the brewery scandal and the need for
Mr. President to avoid the brewery in my article titled: “Anambra:
Oil Prospects and Brewery Scandal” published online and in the
Sun Newspaper of 28th August, 2012.

“The Governor responded in a Radio interview on the same 28th
August on SAPIENTA EXPRESS, Onitsha, calling me names
without denying or debunking the facts contained in the write up.

“His Media Assistant issued what he believed to be a rebuttal but
was indeed an admission that NEXT INTERNATIONAL LTD is
owned by Governor Peter Obi but that he (Obi) resigned as a
Director of the company before he was sworn in as Governor.

“He also admitted that the land belonging to INTERNATIONAL
STEEL COMPANY “was truly revoked for overriding public
interest, for they abandoned the land for years and it dilapidated
a lot, but it was not allocated to SABMiller.”

The truth is that as we speak, INTAFACT BEVERAGES LTD is in
possession of the land in question and INTERNATIONAL STEEL
CO has already filed a suit in the High Court of Onitsha Judicial
Division against the Attorney General of Anambra State and
INTAFACT BEVERAGES LTD.

“I maintain, therefore, that it is illegal to revoke a parcel of land
for overriding public interest and grant the same parcel of land to
a private company and that it becomes immoral and symptomatic
of greed, avarice and a capricious abuse of state power when
the beneficiary of the revocation is the governor himself.

“The shareholders of Intafact Beverages Limited (sabmiller) in
the records of the corporate affairs commission (CAC) as at 22nd
August, 2012, are Sabmiller Nigeria Holdings, Anambra State
government and Next International Limited owned by Peter Obi
and his family.

“Now, I stated clearly that Governor Obi personally handled all
negotiations between Anambra state government and Sabmiller
group and visited South Africa several times on the subject. And I
raised the question; did sabmiller allocate the shares in Intafact
beverages limited to Next International Limited as “bribe” to
further its business interest in Nigeria?

What did governor Peter Obi have in mind when he invested N2
billion naira of Anambra state money in a company he has direct
interest? What other assets of Anambra state did he contribute
on behalf of the state to further his own business interest?

“Did NEXT INTERNATIONAL (Obi’s company) pay for the shares
allotted to it in “cash or kind” and how was the payment, if any,
effected?

”What does Governor Peter Obi understand by the oath he
swore to, on assumption of office; “that I will not allow my
personal interest to influence to my official conduct or my official
decisions.”

“1. In the absence of clear answers to these questions from the
Governor and his Team, it is safe for me to conclude that
Governor Peter Obi has abused his office as Governor of
Anambra State and grossly violated his Oath of Office by using
his official position to pursue his business interest.

“2. That he represents foreign interests in Nigeria using his
position as a member of the Economic Management Team of the
Federal Government and Governor of Anambra State of Nigeria.

“3. That he received shares as compensation or bribe, as the
case may be, for his services to the foreign interest in this case
SABMILLER, through his company NEXT INTERNATIONAL LTD.

“4. I do hereby state, that Governor Peter Obi’s continued
membership of the EMT is not in the best interest of the Federal
Government of Nigeria and if he has any modicum of INTEGRITY,
he should resign his position as Governor of Anambra State.
Ofodile said

By African Examiner

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