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Thursday, 22 June 2017

We’re working to stop cruelly-sourced lizard penises being unknowingly sold via major online retailers

Our new research reveals that male monitor lizards’ sexual organs are fraudulently sold as tantric plant roots, believed to bring good luck. The animals are cruelly trapped, killed, and illegally-traded, before their penises are sold on the likes of Amazon, eBay, and Etsy
In collaboration with Manchester Metropolitan University, the Wildlife Trust of India, and Indian Wildlife authorities, we recently uncovered the international trade of monitor lizards, cruelly exploited for their body parts.

The dried penises are fraudulently sold as ‘Hatha Jodi’, a plant root used in religious ceremonies.
We’re asking all online retailers stop selling these cruelly-sourced body parts.
Stolen from the wild
These wild animals are being illegally-poached from the wild, caught in traps and snares.
Some will have their throats slit or their skulls smashed in before their genitals are removed. Others will still be alive during this horrendously painful process.
Our global wildlife advisor and lead scientist, Dr Neil D’Cruze, said: "We were shocked at the sheer audacity and scale of this illegal wildlife trade. Deceitful dealers claiming to sell holy plant root labelled as ‘Hatha Jodi’ are in fact peddling dried lizard penis to unwitting customers.
"These illegal items are readily available in the UK and USA with potential street value of £50,000."
Some Asian tantric practitioners in the UK, USA and Europe believe that the plant root can bring good luck, wealth and happiness, and can ward away spirits.
However, the lizards being poached for their body parts are far from lucky, and suffer immensely.
Most of these animals are poached in India, where any trade involving a monitor lizard or its body parts is an offence under the Indian Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
Two species of monitor lizard which are also traded for their parts, Bengal and Yellow, have the highest level of international legal protection.

Neil D’Cruze said: "This international illegal trade is of major concern for the continued survival of the lizard species involved.
"Both Bengal and Yellow Monitor lizards are protected under Indian and international law. But even a quick search reveals hundreds of items on sale, sometimes at prices over £200 apiece. If left unchecked, this demand could grow to the extent that it pushes some wild populations over the edge."

To help protect lizards and end this cruel trade, we’re approaching all major international online retailers to request that they remove all illegal monitor lizard body parts sold as ‘Hatha Jodi’ from their websites.
From the desk of:Animal Rights Association of Nigeria-07040303030

Tuesday, 20 June 2017


HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has asked the Economic and Financial Crimes commission (EFCC) to release with immediate effect the Director of Finance and administration of the Police Service Commission Chief Emmanuel Ibe detained since two weeks based on unsubstantiated petition from the Special Assistant on prosecution to the President Mr. Okono Obono Obla.

HURIWA accused Mr. Obla of misusing his office to engage in proxy fight for his relation working in the Police Service Commission who have had a running battle with the arbitrarily detained director of finance and administration over the control of the police staff cooperative Society which reportedly secured huge landed assets from the Abuja political authorities for the use of members.

Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria in a statement last night by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko told the EFCC to hands off the matter which is already a subject of a subsisting petition before the office of the Acting President Professor Yemi Osinbanjo unless the acting Chairman of EFCC has no respect for the high office of His Excellency the Acting President. 

HURIWA accused the Presidential aide of masquerading about as the chief law officer of the nation making use of letter headed papers of the Federal Attorney General and minister of justice to allegedly harass unsuspecting members of the public including top public service officials whom he categorized as his personal enemies.

It goes thus: "We write to your Excellency to use your good office to urgently save the Executive committee members of the police service commission staff Multipurpose cooperative society limited from persecution and intimidation in the hands of Mr. Okoi Obono-Obla, special Assistant to the president on prosecution. 
The cooperative society is an independent legal entity which is governed by the Nigerian cooperative societies Act 1993.The Act confers powers on matters of corporative societies in the hands of the Director of cooperatives. The society has majority of staff of police service commission as its members (see FHC Ruling on suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/585/2012 attached).
2. Mr Okoi Obono-Obla , has embarked on gross abuse of his office, impersonating the Honorable Attorney General of the Federation (HAGF) ,and in the process has been persecuting and intimidating the Executive Committee Members of the society.
 He has taken it upon himself to use the various security agencies, namely, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Department of a State services (DSS), the Independent Corrupt practices and other Related Offences Commission and the Nigerian Police Force, all at the same time, to cause the intimidation, torture and harassment of the Executive Committee Members of the Society on the prompting of his nephew, Mr. Okoi Uyouyo, a staff of the police service commission, who has been boasting to some staff that he would deal with the Executive committee Members of the Society.
3. Mr. Matthias Okoi-Uyouyo, who had long resigned from the society and all his dues paid to him, connived with Mr. Obono-Obla to write a petition to the office of the Honorable Attorney General of the Federation (HAGF) despite the fact that his earlier petitions whereby he maliciously alleged abuse of office, corruption and impunity against the president and other Executive Committee Members of the Cooperative Society has long been disposed off by the various agencies on the affairs of the society.
4. Mr Okoi Obono-Obla, and uncle to the petitioner Mr. Okoi Uyouyo, having been appointed Special Assistant to the President on Prosecution in an undisguised case of impersonation, abuse of office and crass display of nepotism, high jacked the matter and personally wrote to all the security agencies as well as to the offices of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Head of the Civil Service of the Federation and Chairman, Police Service Commission. In one of his letters to the chairman, police service commission, he directed the Chairman to suspend Mr. Emmanuel Ibe, President of the Cooperative Society from office on an unsubstantiated allegation (see copy of letter marked Annexure A attached).
5.The directive to suspend Mr. Emmanuel ibe from office forced the society to approach the National Industrial Court of Nigeria, whereby the court issued An order restraining the commission and HAGF from suspending Mr. Ibe from office(see copy of ordered of Court Annexure B attached).
6. Failing to secure the suspension of Mr. Ibe from office, Mr. Obono-Obla now took it upon himself to persuade the various security agencies to re-investigate the matter purporting that the directive was given by the HAGF. Whereas the same office of the HAGF had in year 2014 issued a directive to the Federal Capital Territory High Court to discontinue the matter and subsequently the matter was struck out by the court (see attached Court Order of the High Court of FCT dated 12th March, 2014 marked Annexure C and DPPF’s letter to the chairman, police service commission dated 19th March, 2014 marked Annexure D).
7. Mindful of the fact that Mr. Obono-Obla is on a mission of vendetta on behalf of his nephew, the Executive Committee Members of the Society filed a Law Suit at the Federal High Court, Abuja in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/478/2016 against the Mr. Okoi Obono-Obla, the HAGF and the Nigerian Police Force(see Court papers marked Annexure E(i) and E(ii) attached). Mr. Obono-Obla snubbing the Law Suit in Court, has gone ahead to persuade the various agencies, particularly the EFCC to hunt the Executive Members of the Cooperative Society and other stakeholders including consultants who carried out various assignments for the society.
8. It is also worthy to note that the Resolution of the Members of the society at an Extra Ordinary General Meeting stating that they have no complaints against their Executive Committee Members on the persecution of Mr. Obono-Obla has been completely ignored by the EFCC and other security agencies investigating the matter (see latter to EFCC and resolution of members marked Annexure F attached).
9. We therefore write to your Excellency most respectfully to please use your good office to cause a stop to the harassment and intimidation of the Executive Committee Members of the Police Service Commission Staff Multipurpose Cooperative Society Limited in the hands of Mr. Okoi Obono-Obla, special Assistant to the president of prosecution who has been using various security agencies particularly the EFCC in carrying out undisguised personal vendetta contrary to the code of conduct of public officers.
10. While we look forward to your fatherly intervention, kindly accept our good wishes and warm regards, Sir."

Leave your Wives, Children out of your political fight-HURIWA tells Wike /Amaechi

A pro-democracy and non-governmental organization-HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has asked the erstwhile governor of Rivers State Rt.Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and his successor in office Mr. Nyesom Wike to stop dragging names of their spouses or families in the political mud of discord.
In the considered opinion of the rights group, the family unit is such a fundamental foundation of the whole society that it must be insulated from quicksand and ethically depraved political disagreements amongst divergent political camps anchoring to win or retain political power in Rivers state come 2019.
In a statement by the National coordinator comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National media Affairs Director Miss. Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA asked the duo of governor Wike and the transportation minister Chibuike Amaechi to exercise restraint and decorum and respect their distinctive families.
HURIWA admonished both the current and former Rivers State governors to limit their disagreements to pure ideological crusade and argue based on political facts and figures and avoid the temptation of reducing their conversations in the public domain to the “bedroom issues” of their wives or children because the family as the foundation that builds an enduring society must not be destroyed because of temporary political fights.
HURIWA therefore condemned the revelation in a radio programme by the governor of Rivers State Mr. Nyesom Wike in which he was reported as casting aspersion on the wife of the transportation  minister for allegedly receiving monthly settlements from the political appointees in the state executive council under her husband for eight years.
The Rights group dismissed this line of public allegations as wholly unnecessary and uncalled for especially coming from the Rivers State governor who is looked upon by millions of youth and human rights organizations as a symbol of virtuous Christian family man who is reputed  to be enjoying a very happy and joyous family life.
“We plead with these two political giants of the Niger Delta to respect the African traditional value system and leave their families out of their temporary political infighting. The family's sanctity must not be unduly violated".
"The political battles of the two should basically be focused on political ideologies and not to engage in infantile “Kitchen- like quarrels" of petty traders”.
The Rights group reminded both Chibuike Amaechi and Nyesom Wike that: “In Africa for instance, the traditional background of the family encouraged all members of the respective families to promote, protect and nurture the basic African cultural values like respect for elders; community fellow feelings as reflected in communal land tenure and ownership; live-and-let-live-philosophy, altruism (including economic and medical variants of it): and hospitality."
HURIWA argues that since the family builds the world, all African families and families everywhere in the world should promote those attributes which projects the common good of humanity. 
"Such attributes includes peace, unity, love, social justice and truth. That is the real meaning of traditional marriage especially against the background of African family value system”.
HURIWA recalled that Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, had alleged that each commissioner and local government chairman in the state paid the erstwhile governor’s wife, Judith, N3million and N2million monthly respectively.

HURIWA quoted the as saying that: "while some paid N3million, others paid N2million to the Amaechi’s wife. He said he was aware of the payments because he was Chief of Staff to Amaechi and had knowledge of what happened then".

Wike, reportedly made the revelation during an interview on Rhythm FM Port Harcourt on Monday.

Nigeria and the unemployment monster By Emmanuel Onwubiko & Queen Onwughalu

Something very unusual in Abuja happened on Monday June 19th 2017. 
This incident has to do with a young man in his early thirties who was so well dressed that he successfully mingled with other business executives and government officials at a particular five star hotel in the central business district of Abuja.
But the clean dress of this smiling young man was only a facade because right inside this man was a groundswell of worries and poverty- induced anxiety. 
He sat very close to us during the tea break but apparently wasn’t allowed to partake in it because he couldn’t produce his official invitation.
This young man looked at us and gestured to us that he hadn’t eaten since the last twenty four hours. 
But we told him that we have just few cash to buy fuel for the car but that if he wouldn’t mind eating the remainder of the food of one of us but he gladly jumped at our offer and before you could say Jack, this guy had swallowed all the meals we passed on to him from one of us.
This scenario is a testament to the crude reality of the effects of economic recession and unemployment. On daily basis in our official function as human rights defenders, we come in contact with a variety of young person searching for sustainable means of livelihoods.  
At the last count, our Non-governmental organization has built a data base of curriculum vitae of hundreds of young persons who drop them off every day in our office looking for openings of any kind for them to be gainfully employed. Few years back, we were compelled to write to the then Labour and Employment minister Chief Emeka Wogu to ask that he set up a functional data bank of genuinely unemployed youth in Nigeria and he assured us that his office will actualize this aspiration.  But as we write this joint article we can report that no such project is in place even when it was once a component of one of the annual budgetary projections. A data bank of jobless youth is critical because scientific statistics helps in proper placement of job seekers in their appropriate places when vacancies exists in both the public and private sectors. Then entered the economic recession which means that unemployment has ballooned out of control. 
Youth unemployment in Nigeria is indeed a time bomb that is ticking and threatening to explode with devastating consequences if no deliberate but workable actions are adopted by all and sundry to reverse the trend.
But is there light at the end of the tunnel? 
Is there the faintest possibility that officials of government that run the economy can confidently overcome these challenges?
Well, the statistician general of Nigeria Dr. Yemi Kale and the finance minister Mrs. Kemi Adeosun seems to be singing contradictory tunes on the question of when exactly the current economic recession will end. 
The end of economic recession could significantly signpost the beginning of good development for millions of our unemployed youth because once the productive sector becomes vibrant it means that more hands would be constructively engaged. But we don't seem to know when this blistering monster of economic recession would end. 
Whilst the director General of the National Bureau of Statistics Dr. Kale is of the view that recession would abate by next year, the minister of finance Mrs. Adeosun appears to be more interested in the political angle of the response to the question by optimistically saying it will end soon. 
Optimism alone doesn't solve economic recession or depression. Be that as it may, it seems the Finance minister is anchoring her optimism on the year 2017 budgetary projections. 
Incidentally, the major government agencies that are expected to stimulate youth employment have just been allocated appreciable quantum of capital budget but the problem is with the implementation going by the often known tradition whereby capital budget of most ministries often witness a little less than fifteen percent implementation profile yearly.
The minister of budget and National planning Senator Udoma Udo Udoma of the current government recently published a citizen budget guideline for the just signed 2017 budget which we received directly from his office.
From this booklet, the following cheering news are contained: the Niger Delta development commission would receive N64 billion from the statutory transfer, the universal basic education gets N95.18billion,Science/Tech-N41.7b;Youth/Sports-N5.44;Defense;N139.29b;Education-N151.92b;Health -N55.61; Interior-N63.76b; Social Intervention-N150b; Agriculture-N103.79b; Water Resources-N104.24;MITI-N81.73b;Transport-N241.71b;Works,Power/Housing-N553.71b. We will return to these specifics shortly. 
First, we make haste to emphatically state that unfortunately, the Federal government plans to proceed with the privatization of such publicly owned assets such as the liquefied Natural gas (LNG) and the Nigerian national petroleum Corporation. LNG is unarguably Nigeria’s best run public enterprise. 
This move may create unemployment and may end up in the transfer of our national assets to few privileged individuals with connections to the powers-that-be.
We say this because in the citizens' guidelines to the current budget given to us, an information shows that already government has earmarked N35 billion as revenue expected from sales of government property and privatization proceeds.
 You may then wonder how cheap these refineries and other national assets are about to be sold away. This is sad and pathetic, if you ask us. 
There is however nothing to show what government intends to do to re-invest this paltry proceeds into other productive ventures that could create job opportunities for our large army of jobless youth.
This is because in the same 2017 budget this government is going cap in hands to foreign lenders to borrow. A total of N1.66 trillion is budgeted for debt servicing. 
We know that this debt servicing and selling off of national assets are two items that would benefit the cronies of government officials and contractors who usually sponsor candidates for elections.  
We say so because if you read through a particular item in the book on economics edited by Simon Cox, it will become clearer that selling off national assets at the long run may not necessarily create employment opportunities for those who need these lifesaving openings amongst the vibrant young population.
 In the book titled: “Economics: making sense of the modern economic”, the writer argued thus: “A fashionable strand of skepticism argues that governments have surrendered their power to capitalism- that the world’s biggest companies are nowadays more powerful than many of the world’s government."
"Democracy is a sham. Profits rule, not people. These claims are patent nonsense. On the other hand, there is no question that companies would run the world for profit if they could. What stop them is not governments, powerful as they may be, but markets", they submitted. 
"Governments have the power, all right, but they not always exercise it wisely. They are unreliable servants of the public interest. Sometimes, out of conviction, politicians decide to help companies reshape the world for private profit. Sometime, anti-market thinking may lead them to help big business by accident. And now and then, when companies just set out to buy the policies they want, they find in government a willing seller. On all this, presumably, the sceptics would agree".
The writer also argued in this powerful book that: "But they miss the next crucial step: limited government is not worth buying. Markets keep the spoils of corruption small. Government that intervenes left and right, prohibiting this licensing that, creating surpluses and shortages-now that kind of government is worth a bit. That is why, especially in developing countries with weak legal systems, taming capitalization by regulation or trade protection often proves such a hazardous endeavor".
"If NGOS succeeded in disabling markets, as many of them they would like to, the political consequences would be as dire as the economic ones. It is because the sceptics are right about some things that they are so wrong about the main thing,” so the writer of the aforementioned book averred. 
A deeper reading of the year 2017 budget does not bring out the practical steps that this government intends to adopt to create the much needed jobs for the teeming Nigerian youth searching frantically for jobs.
 Does government actually understand that youth unemployment is a major threat to national security?
Those who support government based only on their political affiliation would argue that the chunk of money allocated to such critical sectors such as Agriculture, Science and technology amongst a few others represents the resolve of the Buhari's administration to tackle the hydra headed monster of unemployment. 
But come to think of it, we have established the fact that successive governments including the current one have bad history of implementation of capital components of the budgets.
How does government intends to make sure that the young graduates who have chosen to embrace professional agriculture can access the credits from the Bank of Agriculture or bank of industry to take off smoothly? It is true that government said it has begun the recapitalization of these lending institutions but it is still factual to state that these two critical funding bodies hardly make any significant impacts in the drive to create employment opportunities in the informal sector such as professional agricultural practices such as running farms and such others like fish and animal farms for profitability. 
A peep into the latest statistical data of unemployment should tell the government officials that there is fire on the mountain.
  In Quarter two (Q2) of year  2016, the Labour force population (i.e. those within the working age population willing, able and actively looking for work) increased to 79.9 million from 78.5 million in Quarter one (Q1) of 2016, representing an increase of 1.78% in the Labour force during the quarter. 
This means 1.39 million persons from the economically active population entered the Labour force that is individuals that were able, willing and actively looking for work. 
This magnitude of this increase between Q1 and Q2 2016 is smaller when compared to Q4 2015 and Q12016, which was an increase of 1.59m in the Labour force population. 
Within the reference period, the total number of person in full time employment (did any form of work for at least 40hours) decreased by 351,350 or 0.65% when compared to the previous quarter, and also decreased by 749,414 or 1.38% when compared to Q2 of 2015.
The Nigerian National Bureau of Statistics like most countries in the world now uses a variant of the ILO definition such that the unemployment is the proportion of those in the Labour force (not in the entire economic active population, nor the entire Nigerian population) who were actively looking for work but could not find work for at least 20 hours during the reference period to the total currently active (Labour force) population. Accordingly you are unemployed if you did absolutely nothing at all or did something but not for up to 20 hours in a week. Underemployment however occurs if you work less than full time which is 40 hours but work at least 20 hours on average a week and /or if you work full time but are engaged in an activity that underutilizes your skills, time and educational qualifications. 
These are critical information gleaned from the official website of the Bureau of National statistics of Nigeria.
We think government should concentrate part of this national budget to engage in the massive capacity building of the youth population because trained manpower is the driving force of most of the well to do economies like China and Japan. 
Government should invest more in information technology and work on strategic engagement of young persons to do technology transfer from friendly advanced economies such as China or Japan. 
It is better to teach the youth how to fish than to spoon-feed them with fish. Another sector to be tapped into is Sports Development because sports are now big time foreign exchange earners for such big nations like Brazil. 
Nigerian young talents must be looked for and developed for exports because by so doing the revenues accruable from their extremely impressive salaries and sign on fees can contribute a lot towards national development. 
*Emmanuel Onwubiko & Queen Onwughalu wrote in from Human rights writers Association of Nigeria (Abuja Nigeria). We can be reached on

Chimpanzees have rights, says Argentine judge as she orders Cecilia be released from zoo

'We may judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals,' says Judge Mauricio quoting the words of philosopher Emmanuel Kant
Cecilia the chimpanzee will be transferred to the Great Ape Project's sanctuary in Brazil Mario Gonzalez/Flickr
A judge in Argentina has ruled that a chimpanzee which spent years living in a secluded cage has legal rights and should be released from the zoo it was being held in.
The Association of Professional Lawyers for Animal Rights(AFADA) filed the case of Cecilia the chimpanzee to the court in Mendoza, arguing her confinement without companionship was “unlawful” and had a detrimental impact on her health.
Judge MarĂ­a Alejandra Mauricio decided Cecilia should be released from Mendoza Zoo, infamous for the death of the “world’s saddest polar bear” in poor conditions in July this year, and transferred to the Great Ape Project’s sanctuary in Brazil.
 “We’re not talking about civil rights enshrined in the Civil Code,” she told the newspaper Los Andes. “We’re talking about the species’ own rights: development and life in their natural habitat.”
She told the court there was “no procedural route” to follow in this case, and agreed to pass Cecilia’s care over to AFADA.
In her closing statement, Judge Mauricio quoted the words of philosopher Emmanuel Kant: “We may judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.”
AFADA director Pedro Terrados Pozas in a statement said: "This is a landmark judgment, in which a judge has accepted for the first time in world judicial history a habeas corpus sentencing immediate transfer to our sanctuary in Brazil and with arguments supporting our struggle to consider the rights of apes."
 “They are not human and should have specific laws to protect them and provide them with basic rights.”
Mendoza Zoo faced international criticism after photographs of Arturo, described as “the world’s saddest polar bear” went viral - showing him suffer alone in poor conditions.
A petition in 2014 to relocate Arturo to Canada to escape South America heat and to interact with other bears drew more than half a million signatures, including the name of former house speaker Newt Gingrich and singer Cher.

However the bear died aged 30 during the summer, before campaigners were able to transfer him to another holding point.

From the desk of:Animal Rights Association of Nigeria-07040303030

Sale of puppies under eight weeks to be illegal in war on 'backstreet breeders'

Anyone breeding and selling three or more litters of puppies a year will have to apply for a formal licence
The sale of puppies under the age of eight weeks is to be made illegal under plans to crack down on so-called backstreet breeders.
Anyone breeding and selling three or more litters of puppies a year will have to apply for a formal licence under tougher rules announced by Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom.
Smaller breeders as well as commercial breeders will have to meet a "strict welfare criteria" and those who sell pets on the internet will be subject to the same licensing regulations.
Breeders who break the rules face an unlimited fine and up to six months in prison.
Ms Leadsom said: "Everyone who owns a pet or is looking to introduce one into their life will want to know that the animal has had the very best start to life.
"Yet for thousands of puppies born each year to irresponsible breeders, from smaller operations to larger puppy farms, their first weeks are spent in cramped and squalid conditions without the care and attention they need.
"That is why we are cracking down on the worst offenders by strengthening the dog breeding licence and giving councils the power they need to take action."
Dogs Trust veterinary director Paula Boyden said: "As the UK's largest dog welfare charity, Dogs Trust welcomes the Government's review of animal establishments licensing in England and the range of measures it sets out.
"We are particularly pleased that it will be illegal to sell a puppy below the age of eight weeks and that there will be tighter licensing rules which will require sellers of pets to display their licence when advertising."
Kennel Club secretary Caroline Kisko said: "We are pleased that Defra will be taking forward proposals to ban the sale of puppies under the age of eight weeks by commercial third parties.
"We have called for a ban on third party sales, and refuse to register puppies being sold to third parties, but this new rule is a step in the right direction.
"We also welcome the requirement for pet sellers to provide written information about the animals they sell and for those who sell pets online to display their licence number."
Battersea Dogs & Cats Home also praised the plans as a "welcome first step".
The charity's chief executive Claire Horton said: "It's high time we put a stop to the many undercover backstreet breeders and large-scale puppy farmers that profit from their cruel treatment of these animals.
"No puppy should start its life in cramped, squalid surroundings, before being torn away from their mother at a few weeks old.
"So many owners buying their new pet would be horrified to know that this was indeed the case.

"Toughening the current dog breeding licensing rules and making it completely illegal to sell puppies younger than eight weeks old is a welcome first step and we now look forward to working with the Government to see these plans be put into practice and progress further."

From the desk of:Animal Rights Association of Nigeria-07040303030