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Friday, 28 February 2014

G-8 clears coast for Uduaghan’s senatorial bid: UDUAGHAN MAY RUN

The next session of the National Assembly which will result from next year's general election is bound to be of the highest quality of tested and trusted political leaders and technocrats if all the indices at the disposal of political pundits are anything to go by.

Reason: The number of last term governors that may test the waters in the elections of the next set of parliamentarians to the National Assembly may shoot up if the Chief Executive of Delta state and a consummate medical practitioner- Emmanuel Uduaghan accedes to the unprecedented clamor by diverse interest groups for him to throw his ha into the political fray next February 14th.

Supporters of the Delta State Governor have already started beating the drums that things have started working for good for the senatorial ambition of the Governor of Delta State, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan.

Their joy knew no bounds when it emerged recently that eight Local Government Areas in Uduaghan'ss Delta South Senatorial District, comprising the former vice chairmen, councillors and opinion leaders, popularly known as “the G-8”, have cleared the coast for him.

The group did not only endorse him but declared unalloyed support for his dream.
The senatorial seat is currently being occupied by Senator James Manager, a staunch member of the Senate and a force to reckon with in the politics of the district.

The National Coordinator of the group, Hon. Elijah Ologe, corroborated by his Secretary, Blexon Omadoye, in Asaba, said the governor deserved their vote of confidence for the Senate seat because he has acquired the requisite records to represent the district.
The group said Uduaghan presents the best the senatorial district could push forward in 2015 to the National Assembly.

According to the group, the district would not only enjoy fresh breath of legislative experience but be rest assured that resolutions and laws that address the challenges of the constituency would be met.
Ologe explained that the group came to the conclusion that, having delivered as a former Commissioner for Health and Secretary to the State Government, during former Governor James Ibori’s administration, and now governor for eight years, Uduaghan has the credentials for the Senate in 2015.

He said: "The governor has largely delivered on the peace and security, human-capital and infrastructural development he promised the people of the state in 2007.
"Besides, he knows how legislators attract projects to their constituency.
"The projects he started and completed are sure hopes that as senator, Dr. Uduaghan will influence infrastructural projects from the national budget to Delta State.
"With Uduaghan’s charisma at the Senate in 2015, Delta South would be the fastest growing senatorial district across the country.
"I am not mincing words when as I say this, if we go by his achievements in health, education, information, job creation, youth and women empowerment in the past eight years."


Tuesday, 25 February 2014


A pro-transparency Non-Governmental Organization-HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA [HURIWA] has faulted the directive by the Nigerian Communications Commission [NCC] that fines of over N645 million slammed on some four defaulting telecom companies be paid into NCC's account.

In a letter sent by the organization to the hierarchy of the NCC in reaction to the public notice on the development, the Rights group reminded the telecom regulator that the right beneficiaries of any financial fines imposed and received from any defaulting telecommunications services' providers should be remitted to the accounts of the Nigerian customers who are the victims and not to the account of the regulatory body which suffers no breach of contract since the binding contract is between the customers and service providers.

HURIWA made the  observations in a letter titled; "FOI request concerning recent sanctions against telecom service providers and request for further and better clarification particularly on the rights of consumers" and served on the NCC'S board dated February 25th 2014 through the office of the executive vice chairman.

Excerpts from the letter sent to the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC by the Rights group and endorsed by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko stated thus; "As a pressure group made up of talented Nigerians in the creative industry and also the media of mass communication, our members have always followed every public policy decisions made and disseminated to the public domain by your good offices".

"Sir, kindly note that under section 2(1) of the FOI Act of 2011, your good office is obliged to provide us with the necessary information that we are by this letter seeking.
The relevant provision of this law states thus; “(1) ... the right to any person to access or request information, whether or not contained in any written form, which is in the custody or possession of any public official, agency or institution howsoever described, is hereby established.”

HURIWA also prayed the NCC thus; "  Sir, could you furnish us with the information on the fundamental reasons for the very recent administrative sanctions by way of fines that your good offices slammed on four major service operators in the telecom service sector of Nigeria."

" Sir, could you inform us the criterium for determining who benefits from the financial fines already collected last year and the set of fines that may accrue from the administrative action of your office against the four telecom service providers as reported in the media.   Lastly, we are making these sets of requests in good faith because as citizens of Nigeria and good customers of those defaulting firms, we are convinced that the principle of restorative justice demands that every payments made by these firms for defaulting in their terms of contracts must be paid to each and every one of their registered customers who are the direct victims of the failure of these firms to provide standard and transparent services", HURIWA said.       

"Sir, please direct that the fines to be paid by the defaulting telecom service providers be paid to the real victims who are the customers since it is not the duty of government to benefit financially from defaulting companies while the real customers are left to 'leak their wounds'."

Specifically, the NCC had sanctioned three of the four major service operators in the country-MTN Nigeria, Globalcom and Airtel-the sum of N647.5 million for breach of key performance indicators ( KPIs) and poor quality of service for the month of January 2014. Etisalat was however, given clean bill, saying that it met all the set KPLs".


Monday, 24 February 2014


There are two clearly defined frontiers of war going on in Africa which assumed much more broader perspective since the beginning of the year. These are the war on terror being waged in West and Central Africa and lastly the cultural cum legal war against persons with same sex orientation otherwise known as gays.
We are concentrating our intellectual focus on the second leg of these twin wars-war on gays.
Nigeria, unarguably the largest black nation globally, in the first quarter of this year signed into law the anti-gay legislation prescribing 14 year jail sentence for offenders convicted of same sex relationship.
After two years of intense international pressure, both the Nigerian National Assembly and President Jonathan proceeded with the mechanism which resulted in the signing into law the anti-gay legislation.
On validity and recognition of marriage, the then draft bill which has now culminated into a national law affirmed thus: “For the avoidance of doubt only marriage entered into between a man and a woman under the Marriage Act or under the Islamic and Customary laws are valid and recognized in Nigeria.”
The prohibition of same sex marriage in the bill covers the following; marriage between persons of the same sex and adoption of children by them in or out of a same sex marriage or relationship is prohibited in the Federal Republic of Nigeria; a licence issued by another state, country, foreign jurisdiction or otherwise shall be void in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The law further affirmed that marriage between persons of the same sex are invalid and shall not be recognized as entitled to the benefits of a valid marriage and that any contractual or other rights granted to persons involved in same sex marriage or accruing to such persons by virtue of a license shall not be enforceable in any Court of law in Nigeria.
The Courts in Nigeria, according to the anti-gay law, shall have no jurisdiction to grant a divorce with regard or rule on any of their rights arising from or in connection with such marriage.
On non-recognition of same sex marriage, the draft bill states that marriage between persons of same sex entered into any jurisdiction  whether within or outside Nigeria; and other state or country or otherwise or any other location or relationship between persons of the same sex which are treated as marriage in any jurisdiction, whether within or outside Nigeria are not are not recognized in Nigeria; all arms of government and agencies in the Federal republic of Nigeria shall not give effect to any public act, record or judicial proceeding within or outside Nigeria, with regard to same sex marriage or relationship or a claim arising from such marriage or relationship.
The bill also provides for the prohibition of registration of gay clubs and societies and publicity of same sex sexual relationship and affirms that; registration of Gay Clubs, Societies and organizations by whatever name they are called in institutions from Secondary to the tertiary level or other institutions in particular and, in Nigeria generally, by government agencies is hereby prohibited.
In what some of us consider as the most drastic aspect of the anti-gay law, the new law in Nigeria criminalizes media reportage of gay sexual ceremonies thus;  “publicity, procession and public show of same sex amorous relationship through the electronic or print media physically, directly, indirectly or otherwise are prohibited in Nigeria; and; any person who is involved in the registration of gay clubs, societies and organizations, sustenance, procession or meetings, publicity and public show of same sex amorous relationship, directly or indirectly, in public and in private is guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a term of 5 years imprisonment”.
The law in Nigeria also states that any person who performs, witnesses, aids or abets the same sex marriage is of an offence and liable on conviction to a five-year prison term.
The legislation states that jurisdiction for the trial of alleged offenders of the law banning same sex marriage lies with the High Courts in the states and the Federal Capital Territory.
Since that bill that bans same sex marriage came to the public domain, controversy has trailed it, with some people condemning the action of the Federal Government and defending the “right” of gays and lesbians to marry in Nigeria.    
Prior to the coming into being of the Nigeria’s variant of anti-gay law, both the British and United States governments threatened to deal diplomatically with Nigeria should it proceed with what they considered as draconian law.  
But the more the Western powers wielded the big stick or issued verbal threats against Nigeria over the anti-gay law the more the Nigerian government gets public acclaim locally for standing by what is right.
Coming at a time that the frightening dimension of the destruction and violence unleashed by terrorists has created terrible image problem for the Nigerian government, the signing into law of the anti-gay law was a major coup de grace which won popular acclaim for the government among the largely religious communities scattered all over Nigeria.
After accepting the reality on the ground in Nigeria, the focus of the western powers shifted to Uganda where the government was said to be working on a piece of legislation that would even be more punitive than the Nigerian version.
Yoweri Kaguta Museveni whose ascension to political power through rebellion as far back as January 1986 was heavily aided by the United States government, came under unprecedented gale of pressure from the United States government not to sign the anti-gay law which will send any same sex practitioner convicted to life Jail.
In the case of Uganda, the United States President Mr. Barack Obama personally appealed to the Ugandan strongman to discard the anti-gay law but the overwhelming public opinion of Ugandans favoured the signing into law of that legislation. Dramatically, the Ugandan government sought and obtained scientific reports which goes to show that same sex orientation is congenital and not hereditary.
By 1 pm on the dot, on February 24th 2014, a friend called me to give me the breaking news that Uganda President has indeed defied the Western powers by proceedings to sign the anti-gay legislation into law.     
The news of the signing into law of the anti-gay legislation in Uganda immediately became the hottest story in most global media with the British Broadcasting Corporation through one of is reporters Catherine Byaruhanga in Uganda said the government made a public show of the signing ceremony which is rare in the history of Uganda.
A government spokesman said President Yoweri Museveni wanted to assert Uganda's "independence in the face of Western pressure".
Like in most African societies, even before the idea of making a body of legislation against same sex orientation, homosexual acts are already illegal.
The new law in Uganda punishes first-time offenders with 14 years in jail, and allows life imprisonment as the penalty for acts of "aggravated homosexuality".
Homosexuality is just bad behaviour, that should not be allowed in our society”, MP David Bahati, one of those law makers that championed the new legislation reportedly told the media.
Like the Nigerian version, the Ugandan anti-gay law also makes it a crime not to report gay people - in effect making it impossible to live as openly gay.
The law criminalises the "promotion" and even the mere "recognition" of homosexual relations "through or with the support of any government entity in Uganda or any other non-governmental organization inside or outside the country".
This action by Uganda is perhaps one more step in the widening battle and cultural war against gay sexual orientation which most people in Africa believe is targeted at destroying the cultural fabric of African continent.
The debate and public conversations around the issue of gay sexual orientation have only just intensified. Government is obliged to prevent the breakdown of law and order and lynch mob jungle justice against perceived gay sexual practitioners. What is certain is that the last has not being heard regarding the anti-gay law as many groups are threatening to challenge the legal validity of the law just as the Western powers may provide heavy funding support for these legal challenges.

*          Emmanuel Onwubiko; Head Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria;;



Worried about the adverse impact on Nigeria's international image by the needless media war going on between supporters/close aides of President Good luck Jonathan and the suspended Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, a pro-democracy Non-Governmental organization- HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA [HURIWA] has asked the warring parties to sheathe the sword even as it counseled the embattled erstwhile central Bank governor to avoid reckless, sensational and politically tainted sentiments and comments in the media.

Besides, the group has also advised the government to implement to its fullest the extensive recommendations of the Financial Reporting Council [FRC] of Nigeria regarding the prosecution of the suspended Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, all the deputy governors including the acting governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria to avoid the pitfall of government's action being classified as punitive and selective witch hunt of the erstwhile central bank boss known for his anti-government rhetoric over the past few months.

Specifically, HURIWA recalled vividly that the FRC is responsible for, among other things, developing and publishing accounting and financial reporting standards to be observed in the preparation of financial statements of public entities in Nigeria.

Besides, the Financial Reporting Council had in paragraph 2g of the said report, prayed President Jonathan to exercise his powers and “cause the Governor (of CBN) and the Deputy Governors to cease from holding office in the CBN.”

In a media release jointly endorsed  by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Director of Media, Miss. Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA, asked President Jonathan to implement the entire body of recommendations made by the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria or to offer to Nigerians credible and irrefutable reasons why the other indicted top officials of the Central Bank of Nigeria should not face the same sanction as has been done to the erstwhile governor of the CBN Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi. This according to the Rights group will create the right impression that the current government has no hidden agenda against the suspended CBN governor.

Conversely, HURIWA wants the suspended CBN governor to accord respect to the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and to concentrate his energy towards clearing his name of the groundswell of allegations of fraud and monumental misappropriation of public fund while he held sway as the governor of Central Bank of Nigeria. The Rights group also asked the President to instruct his personal aides to stop forthwith the ongoing propaganda against the person of the erstwhile governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria so as not to create impression that the suspension has political undertone.

HURIWA states thus; "We have watched with considerable trepidation the seemingly unending media war and propaganda between the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the person of the immediate past Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and we wish to state that the public spat is not in the best interest of the global image of Nigeria as one of the economic giants on the black continent of Africa and these verbal exchanges read around the World would further rubbish our international rating. We hereby ask the suspended Governor of CBN Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi and the officials of the Presidency and their media cronies to stop behaving like quarrelsome roadside traders but to carry themselves with decorum."

The Rights group said while it expects the suspended CBN governor to redirect his energy towards presenting formidable and unimpeachable legal defence at the appropriate court of competent jurisdiction to the series of mindboggling allegations of heist of public fund as made by the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria, the media aides of President Jonathan should be cautioned to stop the needless mudslinging and character assassination targeted at the person of the erstwhile CBN helmsman since the suspension of Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi was anchored on an independent report turned in by a statutory body.

HURIWA argued that should the Presidency's media staff continue with the media war against Mallam Sanusi then Nigerians and the rest of the World would misconstrue the suspension as personal vendetta and selective witch -hunt against the embattled former CBN governor for reportedly raising alarm over some missing huge crude oil fund belonging to Nigeria.