Today, Nollywood actress, Omotola Jalade was honoured with an honorary degree in Doctorate of Art by Igbinedion University.
We all can now start referring to her as Dr Omotola.
Today, Nollywood actress, Omotola Jalade was honoured with an honorary degree in Doctorate of Art by Igbinedion University.
We all can now start referring to her as Dr Omotola.
The white wedding of Teniola, daughter of Ondo state governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, to her lover, Olatunde, held today at the long beach, A Sun resort in Mauritius.
Full video compiled
Minister of Niger Delta Affairs and former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Sen Godswill Akpabio has sensationally revealed that he was an illegally pupil who used to sneak into a nearby school without being admitted but chased into the bush by security men due to non-payment of fees.
Addressing the inaugural convocation of Ritman University, Ikot Ekpene of which he is the chancellor, Akpabio however said that experience of being chased into the bush in which he injured himself, has moulded his life to the commitment of making sure every child is chased from the bush into school.
“I thank God for those security men who chased me from the school into the bush. They meant it for evil but God turned it to good. Ever since that harrowing experience, it has been my avowed duty and life-long commitment to chase children from the bush to the school.
´That bush race ignited a fire in me which neither the effluxion of time nor the limitations of resources can quench. As a Governor, that race for my life through the bush was the inspiration behind the free and compulsory education programme established by us.”Akpabio said.
He congratulated the proprietor of the university, Sen Emmanuel Ibokessien on reviving the pride of Ikot Ekpene which he said was the cradle of Akwa Ibom unity and the crucible of Akwa Ibom greatness, having been the first place where local government administration was experimented in West Africa as well as the birthplace of the famous Ibibio Welfare Union, which knit a historic quilt of ethnic unity and brotherhood.
The vice chancellor of the university, Prof Celestine Ntuen, said history had been made in the education system in Nigeria as Ritman University completed her wisdom cycle by graduating her first batch of students in exactly four years after commencement.
Ntuen said the institution which commenced its academic work on November 23, 2015, had kept the promise of producing education leaders and scholars capable of solving societal problems by turning challenges into opportunities and making a difference in their chosen fields.
He presented a list of 23 graduating students out of which, two bagged first honours in computer science and biology respectively, while the former governor Kano State, Sen Ibrahim Shekerau and a businessman in Akwa Ibom state, Chief Effiong Afiakurue, were conferred with honorary doctorates in science and business administration, respectively.
The proprietor of the school, Sen Ibokessien said Ritman University was a fulfillment of his childhood dream of seeing a school occupy the their forest in their community.
“Ritman University commenced academic activities for its premier undergraduate students on November 23, 2015., in three faculties with 14 as approved by the departments as approved by the NUC,” the proprietor said.
The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo; Osun State Governor, Adegboyega Oyetola; former Heads of State, General Yakubu Gowon and General Abdulsalami Abubakir, have charged Nigerians on selfless service to humanity, describing it as ultimate to national development and nation building.
They called on Nigerians to imbibe philanthropic spirit by dedicating their wealth and resources to serve God and to impact positively on the lives of others.
The four eminent Nigerians stated this on Saturday during the unveiling and dedication of Owa Ofokutu (Memorial) Ecumenical Centre (OOFEC), in Ilesa, Osun State.
Owa Ofokutu, was the Paramount Ruler of Ijesa land from 1842-1856, and the edifice was built, donated and dedicated in his memory by Professor Debo Adeyemi of Ofokutu’s royal family.
The VP who was represented by the Chaplain, State House, Abuja, Pastor Seyi Malomo, called on Nigerians to promote unity, love and togetherness.
Osinbajo who described unity as central to development, said Nigerians must begin to see strength in their diversity.
General Abdulsalam Abubakar, described the good gesture of the donor as “phenomenal and worthwhile.”
He advocated the need for Nigerians to renew their faith in God by rededicating themselves to service humanity.
General Gowon also urged Nigerians to emulate the good gesture of the donor.
He noted that the dedication of the buildings to service humanity was an affirmation to biblical verses.
He urged the people of Ijesa land and its environs to put the facilities to good use.
Inaugurating the edifice, Governor Oyetola, urged Nigerians to focus on things that can strengthen the bond of unity.
He implored well-spirited Nigerians, irrespective of their religious beliefs and persuasions, to emulate the motive and the noble initiative that can strengthen the ties of unity in the country.
While commending the donor and the entire family of Owa Ofokutu royal family for dedicating the edifice to the glory of God and to service humanity, Oyetola said: “This is a commendable community service. I, therefore, call on other wealthy individuals to emulate this gesture.”
He added: “Beyond the fanfare and the solemn dedication ceremony of today, this event has an underpinning philosophy of ‘all-inclusiveness’ attached to it. The concept of ‘Pan-denominational’ Ecumenical Centre symbolises the onenes and the bonded unity of the Church, which is awesome, and towers above all other mundane considerations.”
“The life and times of Owo Ofokutu and the building of this Ecumenical Centre have great import for the unity of Nigeria and its people. It is a clarion call to us to believe in the things that bind us together.”
The donor, Professor Debo Adeyemi, attributed the gesture to divine inspiration from God.
He urged Nigerian particularly the rich to always share their blessings and wealth with others since they cannot enjoy their wealth while the majority are suffering.
Adeyemi commended the administration of Governor Oyetola for the high sense of patriotism and commitment to the well-being of the citizens.
He extolled the governor for building on the legacy of peace, unity and cohesion, urging him not to relent in his efforts at keeping the state together.
The Niger state Commissioner of Budget and Planning Commission, Alhaji Mamman Musa, has attributed the low turnout of voters during the local government chairmanship elections to lack of proper sensitisation of the electorate.
He said this in an interview with the media after casting his vote at the Baban Dabo Primary School in Maikunkele, Bosso Local Government Area of the state.
Media report that the Niger State Independent Electoral Commission (NSIEC) is conducting Local Government chairmanship and councilors elections across the 25 local government areas of the state.
Musa commended the NSIEC for early arrival of electoral materials and the security personnel for ensuring peaceful conduct of election in the area.
“The NSIEC officials arrived at the polling units as early as 5am, but unfortunately the turnout of voters is very low. This might be as a result of failure of political parties and NSIEC to sensitise the people before the election.
“The process has been peaceful and I am hopeful at the end of the day, we will record success,” he said.
Similarly, Mr Abubakar Gommina, Chairmanship Candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in Bosso, commended NSIEC for early arrival of voting materials in Bosso local government area.
“So far, so good, the election has been peaceful, though the turnout of voters is low,” he said.
He said the low turnout of voters was because people believed that local government election was not as serious as that of the governorship and presidential elections.
“This is the election that people are expected to take serious because local government is more closer to the people, but unfortunately people showed less interest,” he said.
Media report that at about 12 p.m., voting has yet to commence in Chanchaga local government as electorate were seen at their various polling units waiting for electoral materials.
Hajiya Amina Abubakar, who spoke to Media at Kofa-Wachiko Polling Unit, expressed disappointment with the non-arrival of electoral materials in the area.
“I have been here with others since 7 a.m., waiting to cast our votes, but to our surprise NSIEC officials have not arrived. No even security personnel, nobody has explained to us why they are yet to bring election materials,” she said.
Arsenal’s Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (L) and teammates react after Frankfurt’s Japanese midfielder Daichi Kamada scores his team’s second goal during their UEFA Europa league Group F football match between Arsenal and Eintracht Frankfurt at the Emirates stadium in London on November 28, 2019.
DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP
Freddie Ljungberg will take charge of Arsenal for the first time as interim manager on Sunday against Norwich but said on Saturday he is unsure whether full-time management appeals to him.
The 42-year-old Swede — who was a member of the Arsenal ‘Invincibles’ side under Arsene Wenger in the 2003/04 season — has been put in charge after Unai Emery’s undistinguished 18-month reign came to an end on Friday.
However, Ljungberg — who was an assistant to Emery — told Sky Sports it was too early to say whether being a manager on a permanent basis would be to his liking.
“We’ll see in the future,” said Ljungberg.
“At the moment I’m learning the trade.
“This is a big responsibility and the moment I’m just taking it game by game.”
Ljungberg’s first task will be to arrest the slump that has seen the Gunners fail to win in seven matches — their worst run since 1992 when George Graham’s side failed to win in eight.
Arsenal are presently eighth in the Premier League table, eight points off the fourth and final Champions League spot with a third of the league campaign gone.
Ljungberg — who played over 200 games for Arsenal in his nine years at the club and won the FA Cup on three occasions — has revealed no timescale has been set for his spell as Emery’s temporary replacement.
“No, no indication of how long or how short. They just said concentrate on your next game do as well as you can,” he said.
Ljungberg, who away from the pitch was a successful underwear model, said he was honoured to have been entrusted with the job of at least for the moment reviving Arsenal’s fortunes.
“It’s a great, great honour,” said Ljungberg.
“That’s how I feel. I feel this energy inside of me. It’s special.
“Of course there’s sadness because of what’s happened to the club and where we are, but also excitement for what we can do for the future and also for tomorrow.
“Its a great honour and that’s what I said to the players — ‘you guys do the job and I’ll try to help and support you’.
“If you play good football and get results then there’s nothing better than that to raise spirits.”
Sergio Ramos scored a goal and conceded a penalty as Real Madrid battled past Alaves on Saturday to go top of La Liga before Sunday’s game between Barcelona and Atletico Madrid.
Barca and Atletico face off at the Wanda Metropolitano and Madrid did all they could to take advantage, with Dani Carvajal the unlikely match winner in a gritty 2-1 victory over Alaves.
“We know at these grounds that teams give everything against Madrid,” said Marcelo. “It’s in these matches that leagues are won.”
“We fought until the end,” added Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane.
Ramos had headed them in front shortly after half-time only to concede a needless penalty for throwing his arm across Joselu, which Lucas Perez converted before Carvajal poked in.
Madrid pull three points clear of Barcelona and six ahead of Atletico, who have played a game more than the top two. Sevilla, in third, host Leganes on Sunday. Alaves stay 13th.
A 1-0 defeat at Mendizorrotza 13 months ago came three weeks before Julen Lopetegui was sacked as a coach but this time Madrid showed the kind of steel that was so painfully lacking last season.
On a wet and windy afternoon in the Basque country, Zidane’s side never showed the verve and creativity that was so impressive in the draw against Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday.
But this was a gutsy performance that means they have now won six and drawn two of their last eight matches in all competitions, with the Clasico against Barcelona next month fast approaching.
“A few weeks ago people were saying a lot about this team,” said Zidane. “But we have to stay the same, stay calm and keep working because this is just the start.”
Gareth Bale made his first Madrid start since October 5 after recovering from a calf injury and his first too since his controversial celebration with Wales earlier this month, which sparked anger among his club’s supporters.
Bale hit the post in the first half but faded and was replaced by Rodrygo after Alaves’ equaliser.
With Eden Hazard out injured, Isco also kept his place while Alphonse Areola was given a rare outing in goal ahead of the rested Thibaut Courtois.
Kroos The Provider
Madrid were lucky not to concede another penalty early on as Aleix Vidal slalomed inside Ramos and then Eder Militao, whose dangling leg caught Vidal’s foot. Referee Guillermo Cuadra felt the fall was exaggerated.
At the other end, Bale hit the post with a header and Karim Benzema latched onto a quick throw but instead of shooting, hooked the ball back for Isco whose effort was saved.
Alaves grew in confidence as the rain grew heavier yet Madrid regrouped at half-time and took the lead soon after as Ramos was given a free header to glance in Toni Kroos’ crossed free-kick.
But after scoring his sixth goal of the season, Ramos gifted Alaves an equaliser in the 66th minute by outmuscling Joselu in the penalty area, only to throw an arm across the forward’s chest. Perez made no mistake.
Bale went off for Rodrygo and Alaves might have been able to build on their momentum if they had consolidated.
Instead, parity lasted three minutes as Isco met Luka Modric’s cross at the back post and while Pacheco did brilliantly to save, Carvajal reacted faster than Victor Laguardia to the rebound.
Perez almost drove in a late equaliser but Marcelo made a diving block and Ximo Navarro’s header had to be clawed away by Areola as Madrid held on.
Nollywood actress, Iyabo Osadare, has died.
The thespian who is prominent in the Yoruba movie scene, died on Wednesday November 27th after a protracted battle with breast cancer.
May her soul rest in peace, Amen.
One million tickets for Euro 2020 will go on sale to supporters in December, UEFA confirmed on Saturday ahead of the draw for the tournament in Bucharest.
While the format of the tournament, with 12 cities across the continent hosting matches, has come in for criticism, UEFA reported “very strong demand” for tickets when they first went on sale in June and July this year.
A total of 19.3 million requests were made for the 1.5 million tickets on sale during that period, out of a total of three million.
The latest wave of tickets will go on sale to supporters of the 20 teams who have already qualified from Wednesday, December 4 at 1300 GMT up until December 18 for a competition that will begin in Rome on June 12 and conclude with the final in London on July 12.
In between, matches will be played from Bilbao and Dublin to Saint Petersburg and to Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan.
“We said that this Euro will have a different flavour, a European flavour, and we want to take this festival all over Europe,” UEFA’s deputy general secretary, Giorgio Marchetti, said at a press conference.
“That is why we are not afraid and the big success of ticket sales earlier this year demonstrates that people have a real appetite and real desire for this tournament.”
The cheapest tickets will cost 30 euros ($33) for games in Baku, Bucharest and Budapest, and 50 euros elsewhere.
Meanwhile, UEFA expressed hope that the tournament will not be marred by incidents of racism such as those during England’s win in Bulgaria in qualifying in October.
“In our experience, the Euro has been always a very festive event, at least within the stadiums, so we are confident this atmosphere will take priority over stupid and sometimes criminal things which from time to time happen in football,” said Marchetti.
If needed, UEFA will stick to their so-called three-step procedure to help officials deal with racist incidents in stadiums.
The procedure first involves announcements being made within stadiums asking supporters to stop any racist behaviour. If that fails, referees can suspend games and take players off the pitch, before abandoning matches as a last resort.
The Chairmanship and councillorship elections in Niger state have witnessed a low turnout of voters across the 25 local government areas.
In most of the polling units visited by Channels Television, officials of the State Independent Electoral Commission arrived early with voting materials, the election did not, however, commence until 9:00 am, when voters started turning out.
No violence has been recorded yet, but there are however complaints of politicians engaging in vote-buying, ballot box snatching and other acts intended to disrupt smooth conduct of the election.
At a polling unit, Salihu Maikatifa One, at Cikin gari ward of Kagara in Rafi local government area, voters turned out in their numbers to exercise their franchise, but express concern over the use of money by politicians to sway the voter’s mind.
The PDP collation officer in Rafi, Haruna Marafa told journalists who are in the area to monitor the election that the APC is engaged in vote-buying using public funds at its disposal.
He also said the process in the area is characterized with violence, but commended security agents for their prompt response.
According to him, he received a report from the party’s agent in Yakila polling Unit that an APC chieftain hired thugs to snatch ballot boxes to his house, but with the help of the Divisional Police Officer in the area, the ballot boxes were retrieved and arrests have been made.
But, an APC chieftain Gambo Tanko Kagara who was the former Chairman of Rafi local government and former president of Association of Local Government Organizations of Nigeria, ALGON, discredited the claim by the PDP, saying the latter is desperate to get power.
He said the APC’s performance in the last four years is enough to make the people vote for its candidates.
He attributed the low turnout of voters recorded in the election to the current crop harvesting which made many people go to farm rather than to vote.
In Kontagora local government area, the polling unit of Governor Abubakar Bello also witnessed very low turnout. Although officials of the State Independent Electoral Commission arrived as early as 7:30 am, voting did not commence until 9:00 am when voters started turning out.
Voting in Chanchaga, Bosso, Shiroro and Paikoro also recorded low turnout.
China has issued new rules banning online video and audio providers from using artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality technologies to produce “fake news.”
The regulation published Friday by China’s cyberspace authority said that both providers and users of online video news and audio services are “not allowed” to use new technologies such as deep learning and virtual reality to create, distribute and broadcast “fake news.”
“Fake news” has been generalised to mean anything from a mistake to a parody or a deliberate misinterpretation of facts.
The rules come into effect on January 1, 2020.
Failure to follow them could be considered a criminal offence, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) said, without offering details on punishments.
The rules require videos and audio tracks produced using AI or virtual reality technologies to carry clear labels warning users.
The regulations particularly stressed the dangers of “deepfakes,” or technology that manipulates videos to appear genuine but which depict events or speech that never happened.
Deepfake technologies could “disrupt social order and violate people’s interests, creating political risks and bringing a negative impact on national security and social stability,” the cyberspace authority warned.
Concerns over deepfakes have grown since the 2016 US election campaign which saw wide use of online disinformation, according to US investigations.
China’s top legislative body said earlier this year it was considering making deepfake technology illegal.
A Chinese face-swapping app Zao, which allows users to convincingly superimpose their own likeness over characters in movies or TV shows, led to a heated debate on the abuses of deepfake technologies in September.
Commercial motorists parking to load and offload passengers along the Ojoo Interchange at Akinyele Local Government Area in Ibadan have been given three days to vacate the place and use the designated Akinyele trailer park.
The three-day ultimatum given to commercial transporters was to ease the traffic situation along the Interchange towards UI road as well as the road leading to Lagos-Ibadan expressway from Ojoo.
The directive has indicated a ban on the activities of motorists along these routes which would attract stiff penalties if caught.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Mr. Ademola Ajibola
during a meeting with security and road management personnel on Friday said the governor, Seyi Makinde frowned at the way commercial cars and buses park at the roadside of the Ojo Interchange.
Ajibola noted further that for the safety of lives and beautification of the city, traders at the Interchange must move to Abatakan where stalls would be built for them while trailer operators at Abatakan would relocate to
Akinyele Trailer park.
“The governor has indicated his aversion to the continued use of the Ojoo Interchange, which was conceived and constructed to ease traffic congestion and stop accidents had claimed lives and properties due to trading and parking by motorists to load and offload passengers.
“He has approved a ban on trading and activities of motorists at this interchange in order to maintain the purpose for which it was built and any violation starting from Tuesday, 3rd of December will be dealt with by security and road transport management as dictated by the State’s environmental and transport laws,” Ajibola said.
The Federal Government on Saturday announced the commencement of free train rides on the over $1.5bn new Lagos-Ibadan railway service.
It said the free rides would last for four months and urged commuters to use the train service during the festive season.
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, who announced this via his official Twitter handle, noted that the standard gauge rail line was ready for use.
According to him, the free train ride would commence on Saturday (today), November 30, 2019, till the end of the first quarter of 2020.
The minister explained that the take-off point is the Iju train station in Lagos, while the free rides would help reduce the transportation cost incurred by commuters on the Lagos-Ibadan route.
Amaechi said, “Our free rides on the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail line will begin today (Saturday) and run through March 2020.
“Commuters on that route can take advantage of it and save transportation during the festive period and beyond. Let’s ride on the #NextLevel. Take-off point is Iju.”
The minister’s tweet was greeted with several reactions, as some of his followers lauded the move, while others criticised the development.
Femi Otunba tweeted, “The lion of the Niger Delta, the Knight and the crusader of next level, thank you very much for not disappointing Nigeria and the peoples President, PMB.”
But Adedayo Adeyemo did not see any sense in the arrangement, as he stated that “there will be overcrowding, no one to hold accountable for poor service as it is free.
“Facility will be damaged due to overcrowded coaches and given that the train was procured through loan, how does free service help repay the loan?”
The President’s wife, Mrs Aisha Buhari, has slammed state governors for failing to provide basic social amenities and infrastructure, noting that things were getting out of hand.
The wife of the President spoke at the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs General Assembly and National Executive Council Meeting held at the National Mosque in Abuja on Friday.
She said, “We should either fasten our seatbelt or do the needful or we will all regret it very soon because, at the rate things are going, things are getting completely out of hand. The VP (Yemi Osinbajo) is here, some ministers are here, they are supposed to do justice to the situation.
“People cannot afford potable water in this country while we have governors. Since this is the highest decision-making body of Islamic affairs, for those that are listening, we should fear God, and we should know that one day, we will return to God and account for our deeds here on earth.”
Mrs Buhari also called for the regulation of social media, noting that China with about 1.3 billion people had done so, stressing that many people could not relax in their villages due to insecurity.
“On this issue of social media, you cannot just sit in the comfort of your house and tweet that the Vice President has resigned. It is a serious issue. If China can control over 1.3 billion people on social media, I see no reason why Nigeria cannot attempt controlling only 180 million people,” she added.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in his address admonished Nigerians to be their brother’s keeper regardless of their religious affiliation, noting that all Nigerians are equal.
Osinbajo said, “It is my view that the weight of ensuring that this country is on the right track is on our leaders. We should be our brother’s keeper no matter the religion. We should always be ready to make sacrifices for one another. We have religious and tribal tension in this country; many are beating the drum of ethnic and religious war. We are at a historic juncture of our nation.”
The NSCIA President and the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar, said the nation must come together to address its challenges, insisting that girl child education and the almajiri phenomenon must be addressed urgently.
He disagreed with the calls for social media regulation, stating that there were laws to deal with the abuse of the platforms.
Osinbajo spoke on the topic ‘The Role of Islam in the Development of a Multi-religious and Multi-ethnic Nation.’
FG begins Lagos-Ibadan free train ride
He said, “Nations are built by the sacrifices, hard work of leaders who do not care even if they are condemned by persons of their own religion or ethnicity, so long as they are confident they act in obedience to the oaths they swore and to the Almighty God.
The VP cited the example of President Muhammadu Buhari, whose tolerance, he said, portrayed how to promote religious harmony.
He added, “Every Sunday, my family and over 100 Christians attend service in the chapel at the Villa. The chapel is located on the premises of the President and his family. It is located a few seconds away from the First Lady’s kitchen.
“Sometimes, when I see the President on a Sunday morning, he asks me whether the service is over already or I am escaping from the service. That is the sort of tolerance that we need in a multi-ethnic, multi-religious society and it is the duty of leaders to show that sort of example.”
The Senate has said it is not possible for it to initiate a bill that prescribes the death penalty for looters.
The red chamber, however, pledged to support any executive or private member bill that would criminalise acts of corruption.
The spokesperson for the Senate, Godiya Akwashiki, stated this in an interview with one of our correspondents on Thursday.
He spoke against a backdrop of some Nigerians and groups calling for a bill that prescribes the death penalty for treasury looters instead of the lawmakers devoting time to social media and hate speech bills.
Akwashiki explained that it was impossible for the Senate President to direct any senator to produce any particular bills, including one that prescribes the death penalty for looters.
“It is not possible for the Senate President to direct any senator to go and produce a particular type of bill. All of us are elected to represent our constituency from various parts of the country,” he said.
The Senate spokesperson also said different punishments were already prescribed against corruption in the acts that established the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, as well as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
“We have the ICPC Act and the EFCC Act and there are punishments there for offenders. I want to believe we are going gradually. However, any bill that would criminalise looting is a good proposal that the Senate could consider,” he said.
Akwashiki, however, said the executive arm of government, groups or individuals should initiate bills that prescribe the death penalty for treasury looters and see if the upper chamber would not push them through.
He also described as untrue insinuations that senators, particularly former governors and ministers in the red chamber, would reject such legislation in order to protect themselves.
He said, “We started a serious fight against corruption a few years ago when President Muhammadu Buhari got into office.
“The issue of a bill against corruption and looters in the Senate is a constitutional right of every senator, the executive arm of government, groups or private individuals.
“Anybody in the country is free to propose a bill through any senator. If you have such a proposal, get in touch with your senator, sit down with him and convince him why you want that type of law to be enacted.”
Stressing that the red chamber would support any bill that criminalises corruption, Akwashiki said, “This country belongs to all of us. Every person in this country has the right to present their opinion in terms of enacting an Act for the benefit of the people.
“When the Senate discovers there are many people requesting a particular bill, one day, one senator will just wake up and initiate a proposal and present it before his colleagues.”
He also said not all former governors or former ministers in the red chamber were corrupt.
He said, “We have 109 senators. How many are former governors or ministers?
“Are you saying we could get 60 senators who are either former governors or ministers?
“Senate is a place where everybody is free to express their opinions, according to the wishes of the people who elected them.
“The Senate chamber is higher than any former governor or minister.”
Meanwhile, the Senate spokesperson said the red chamber had yet to discuss the issue of the death penalty in the hate speech bill because the proposal still remained the personal property of the sponsor until it passed second reading.
He said, “The issue of expunging the death penalty from the hate speech bill is not the decision of the Senate yet. There is a process of enacting an Act. The bill will pass first, second and third readings.
“The hate speech bill has just been mentioned for the first time. It has not come up for a second reading. It is when it is introduced for the second time that the senators will for the first time voice out for or against the bill.
“For now, the sponsor has said he will expunge the clause that prescribes the death penalty for hate speech; that is his own personal opinion.
“I have said it times without number that the hate speech bill is a private member bill. When we get to its second reading, that is when Nigerians will know the position of the Senate on the bill. If the bill does not pass second reading, that will be its end.
“The senators may even decide to remove other clauses apart from the death penalty provision.”
Prescribing death penalty for graft’ll be self-indicting –Afenifere
But Yoruba sociocultural group, Afenifere, said the National Assembly could not prescribe the death penalty for treasury looters because it would be self-indicting, noting that it was not surprising that the lawmakers chose to save their own necks.
The group’s spokesman, Mr Yinka Odumakin, said most lawmakers would not be alive if the death sentence was prescribed for corruption.
He stated, “The senators cannot prescribe the death penalty for looters because they do not want to sentence themselves to death; it is easier to send others to death. If you prescribe the death sentence for looters, then a lot of them would not be alive.”
Afenifere argued that the hate speech bill was meant to impress President Muhammadu Buhari, advised Nigerians to resist the bill.
He alleged many leaders of the ruling party engaged in hate speech in the run-up to the 2015 general elections.
Odumakin said, “A few days ago, the Senate President said they would pass anything President Buhari brought, which clearly showed the height of their servitude.
“What they are doing is to impress the President at the expense of the Nigerian people. But Nigerians have to rise up against this barbaric law they are to make.
“When you compile the speeches of all APC leaders between 2014 and 2015, the title of the book you would write is, ‘Hate Speech: Parts One and Two.”
We don’t support death penalty under any guise –TI
The Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre and Head of Transparency International (Nigeria), Mr Auwal Rafsanjani, said the organisations would not support the death penalty under any guise.
In an interview with one of our correspondents on Friday, Rafsanjani, however, asked lawmakers to channel their energy and time towards making laws that would ensure accountability and transparency.
He also urged them to legislate on issues that would promote good governance as well as end corruption and poverty.
He said, “It is clear our lawmakers have misplaced priorities. They do not know what we want.
“We do not support the death penalty under any guise because of its negative consequences. We do not recommend killing under any guise.
“There are more pressing national issues they can legislate on, like how to stop corruption and poverty.
“They should also make laws for good governance. There should be accountability and transparency. This is our stand.”
We have no moral right to sponsor hate speech bill –APC chieftain
Meanwhile, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress in Niger State and former Commissioner for Information, Mr Jonathan Vatsa, on Friday said the ruling party had no moral right to sponsor the hate speech bill or any law that sought to gag the press.
He said this at the Social Media Summit in Minna, organised by the Progressive Media Practitioners.
Vatsa said the ruling APC “benefitted immensely from this thing we call hate speech.”
He said, “Before 2015, I can remember we used all forms of propaganda against the ruling PDP, we said anything to make sure the people hated the party.
“Our focus at that time was to ensure that we discredited the then ruling party and we won. We should not be afraid of the poison we gave PDP at that time.
“Personally, I will not be a party to a law that will gag the press. In some other climes, people would have commenced the process of recalling the sponsor of that bill.”
The convener of the summit, Daniel Atori, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to impress upon lawmakers to enact laws that promote meaningful development rather than those that did not benefit the people.
“The National Assembly should reconsider and drop these bills and ensure they propose a bill that will improve the welfare of media practitioners instead of proposing bills that will gag the media that fought tirelessly for the democracy we are all enjoying now,” he said.
CAN kicks against social media, hate speech bills
In a related manner, the Christian Association of Nigeria has kicked against social media and hate speech bills, describing them as ploys to gag Nigerians.
The CAN President, Dr Samson Ayokunle, called on the National Assembly to drop the bills and focus on legislations that address insecurity, deplorable infrastructural amenities and the general welfare of the people.
In a statement, the National Director, Legal and Public Affairs, CAN, Mr Samuel Kwamkur, said having examined the tensions and fears the bills had created, the body called on the National Assembly to discard them.
“CAN is calling on the National Assembly, particularly the President of the Senate and all distinguished Senators, to discountenance the two bills and put off completely any contemplation to pass them into acts of the National Assembly as sincere lovers of the nation,” the statement read in part.
The body argued there were adequate laws to check the excesses of individuals and organisations that were misusing social media and propagating hate speech.
Although the body observed that some individuals and organisations had taken advantage of social media to cause damage to individuals and institutions, it described this as “unfortunate developments in the use of technology.”
SAN knocks NBA for alleged docility
In the meantime, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Oladipo Olasope, has knocked the Nigerian Bar Association for its alleged docility and silence on the hate speech bill that has passed second reading in the National Assembly.
According to Olasope, the NBA should have set up a committee to review the bill, take a position and institute legal action against it and probably obtain an injunction to stop the bill.
The lawyer spoke to journalists on the sidelines of a round-table meeting tagged, ‘Criminalising Hate Speech: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly,’ organised by the Ibadan chapter of the Christian Lawyers Fellowship of Nigeria. The event held at the Afe Babalola Bar Centre in Ibadan.
Olasope, who urged the occasion, said, “I expected the NBA to have done something about this issue by now. The bill has continued to grow and passed the second reading.
“By now, the NBA should be in court. NBA is not expected to be docile. The NBA should go to court to challenge it and get an injunction before it goes further. That is what I believe the bar should do. The press should also do the same.”
Olasope, who charged the press to take the necessary measures to stop the bill from going further, raised the alarm that if the bill was passed into law, it would silence the press and make them lose relevance.
He added that the bill favoured a particular section of the country as it contained issues of favouritism, federal character, catchment area of tertiary institutions and others.
“This hate speech bill is obviously being made to shift the balance and favour a section of Nigeria,” he said.
A former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, lost her ability to speak and subsequently fell into a coma due to the complications of the cancer she had, her husband has said.
Diezani’s husband, Rear Admiral Alison Madueke (retd.), said this in his recently published book titled, ‘Riding the Storms with God on My Side’.
Madueke, who is a former Chief of Naval Staff, said towards the end of the Goodluck Jonathan administration in 2015, Diezani was diagnosed with cancer and had to be flown to London for treatment.
He said, “On Sunday, July 26, 2015, I stepped into my bedroom soon after our brunch to find that my phone was ringing. It was my mother-in-law, Mrs. Beatrice Agama, who was staying with Diezani while she was undertaking treatment. She was sobbing and only managed to inform me that my wife was no longer talking.
“I was in London by 5.30am the following day, Monday, and went straight to see her. Diezani was in a coma. I called an ambulance that arrived 20 minutes later, the attendants bearing a stretcher. They had to get a wheelchair since the lift could not take the stretcher.
“In less than 10 minutes, we were at the emergency intensive care unit of the Harley Street Clinic. Her doctor, Prof. Paul Ellis, a top oncologist, was out of town and had to be recalled.
“Three days later, when Diezani finally came out of the coma, she saw me by her bedside and asked what I was doing in London. She had reacted badly to her Friday chemotherapy treatment. Thank God she pulled through that nightmarish incident and is now fully recovered.”
The retired naval officer said unfortunately, while his wife was severely ill, her condition became an issue of politics.
Earlier in the book, Madueke said when Diezani accepted a ministerial appointment in 2007, he told her not to focus on money but maintain the good name of the family.
Madueke, who served as military governor of Imo and Anambra states in the 1980s, said he initially did not want his wife to take public office having only become the first female director of Shell Petroleum Development Company in Nigeria and had a great career.
The former naval officer said, “When finally she was appointed Minister of Transportation, I took further time to advise her on the topic of self protection and self preservation in the bureaucracy.
“I finally recited the advice my father had given me upon my appointment as military governor. “Go do your best, don’t bring back money, but bring back my name”
“Later in that administration, she was appointed Minister of Petroleum Resources, a position she held until the Peoples Democratic Party lost the 2015 Presidential election.”
On how his wife was appointed a minister, Madueke said shortly before the inauguration of President Umaru Yar’Adua in 2007, he was approached by the then Vice-President-elect, Goodluck Jonathan.
Madueke said Jonathan pleaded with him to allow Diezani to take up a job as minister as there were very few persons of Bayelsa origin who had her impressive resumé.
Mairo Abdulahi Bashir, a business manager with United Bank for Africa, UBA, and first prosecution witness, (PW1), in the ongoing trial of Abdulrasheed Maina, former chairman, Pension Reform Task Team before Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Friday, November 29, 2019 disclosed that Maina used his sister’s name to open a secret bank account with the UBA, through which funds were transferred. According to the witness, Maina passed off the account as belonging to his sister, while he actually operated it.
The witness under cross- examination by defence counsel, Esther Uzoma denied harbouring any ulterior motive in her testimonies. Uzoma had accused the witness of nursing an ulterior motive by not revealing to the UBA authorities, Maina’s huge monetary transactions, including documents containing the alleged deposits and withdrawals in local and foreign currencies by Common Input and Properties Ltd, (allegedly belonging to the defendant).
The witness denied any ulterior motives in her testimonies, revealing further that Maina presented a certificate of incorporation for Common Input and Properties Ltd, with his sister’s photograph and her personal details but endorsed the document with his own signature. Justice Abang adjourned the case until December 9, 10, and 11 for continuation of trial.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is prosecuting Maina on a 12-count charge, bordering on operating fictitious bank accounts, corruption fraud and money laundering.
The indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has waved asside the threat by the Nigeria police, issued recently by the Abia State Commissioner of Police, Ene Okon to stop the leader it’s leader, Nnamdi Kanu from attending his mother’s burial.
According to a press statement by the media and publicity secretary of the Igbo separatist group, comrade Emma Powerful and made exclusively available to Sunday Sun yesterday, it reassures it’s members that nobody can stop Kanu from attending his mother’s funeral.
He described the threat by the police as an empty threat that does not hold waters ,maintaining that such threats would only make the group more defiant.
Powerful sated “An inconsequential and roundly incompetent local police operative blabbing away from a poorly maintained office in a delapidated building in Umuahia is not worthy of an intelligent response from the great IPOB.
“However it is important we inform the Fulani masters of this Okon that Biafra is resonating all over the world today thanks to IPOB. All the years of threats and brutal crackdowns have all resulted in making IPOB more defiant, determined and ruthless in our pursuit of the noble goal of Biafra liberation. Powerful said.
He continued “If the military might of the Alimajiri Nigerian north, grand conspiracy of the judiciary and mind-numbing treachery of Okezie Ikpeazu, other Igbo governors and Ohaneze could not stop IPOB, how much less an unknown Fulani boy-boy in police uniform in Umuahia.
“It seems this caliphate servant in police uniform named CP Okon wants to use the name of our most reverred leader Mazi Nnamdi Kanu to be noticed as the slave he is in order to advance his career, the same way another slave called “Justice” John Tsoho used the privilege of presiding over the sham trial of our leader to become the Chief Judge of Federal High Court of Nigeria.
“Before this Okon came, there were other loud mouthed southern police commissioners in Abia that sought to impress their Alimajiri masters by making unedifying and unguarded utterances against our leader and the indomitable IPOB family. The same way they sunk into oblivion is exactly the same way this talkertative imp will be quickly consigned to the scrapheap of used and discarded unthinking caliphate servants from the south.
“He is not the first and neither will he be the last.
“IPOB is not in the business of responding to incompetent lowly ranked officers of a failed, shameless, uncivilised and discredited colonial disgrace like Nigeria. IPOB is an international movement currently engaged in international diplomacy to drive home the need to put the long suffering ethnic nationalities the British herded together into their failed experiment in Nigeria out of the primitive stranglehold of the eternally backward Arewa core north” Powerful explained.
Members of the National Assembly have been urged to urgently review the 2020 budget in the education sector upward to meet the standard of United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Two Youth groups, Nigerian Youth Leaders Council (NYLC) and National Youth Progressive Council (NYPC) stated this yesterday in Lafia, Nasarawa state.
According to a statement they jointly signed and a copy made avaialable to our correspondent, Comrade Abba Abba of NYLC and Comrade Adakole Ochai of NYPC said the current allocation of N48 billion to the education sector is not close to 20% of the UNESCO standard and urged the education committees of the two chambers to jerk it up.
According to the statement, the 6 percent of the national budget allocated to education is grossly inadequate compared to the 20 percent recommended by UNESCO hence the call to the national assembly to upwardly review the budget proposal in its possession with specific focus on education.
“The Federal Ministry of Education declared that the funding of education at all levels in the country is below the benchmark of 20 percent of national budget recommended by UNESCO.
“Nigeria is indeed at a cross road considering the fact that its budget allocation to the educational sector is nothing to write home about. Therefore, an urgent need to stimulate the process is required and the onus on this step lies with the national assembly,” says the statement.
The statement adds that the call for upwardly review of the allocation to education sector in the 2020 budget proposal is backed by the fact that education is the driving force to innovation and industrialization of every nation, most especially that the world has gradually turned to a global village of technological hubs.
“There must be a deliberate attempt by the Senate and House of Representatives to review upward the budget allocation to Education as doing this will allow rooms for more researches and advance studies in our tertiary Institutions,” The statement adds.
The group then frowned at the position of the senate resolutions to clamp down on tertiary institutions who fall prey to the dwindling and poor allocation to the sector.
“Should we throw blames at tertiary institutions management who are left at the mercies of generating the revenue to aid in researches and other related issues as regards to tuition increment? It is unfortunate to say the least.
“We must say without fear or favor that members of the national assembly should channels their energy and intellectual debate prowess to ensure upward review of tertiary education funds in tandem with UNESCO provision.
“In putting our peg to the right hole, tertiary institutions like University of Maiduguri which despite tuition increment for purposes aforementioned, still pay below most higher institutions in Northern and Nigeria at large should be supported to actualize their goals,” says the statement.
The statement adds “The Federal Government and the National Assembly must note that every developed and developing countries today were able to reach their peak as a result of premium given to educational institutions of their country and Nigeria must not be an exception.
“We hereby call on the Senate and the House of Representatives to as a matter of public interest reach a resolution to review upwardly the budget allocation to the Education Ministry of 2020.
“It is only on this note that Nigerians will truly appreciate the workings of the Senate, House of Representatives and the federal government of Nigeria on Education.
In another development, The National Association of University Students (NAUS) also issued a statement urging the students of the University of Maiduguri to remain calm and law abiding in spite of the decision of the University governing council concerning increment of tuition fees.
The statement signed by Comrade Ibrahim Muhammed Lawal, President of the Senate of the association and available to newsmen admonished students to be patient as discussions on the tuition increment is ongoing and added that hopefully, positive agreement that suits all parties will reached.
The group also called on the federal government as a matter of urgency to increase more budget on education and also increase funding for Universities to avoid such occurrence that is targeting and affecting academics excellence.
“If the federal government want to give us full support on education, they should fund our Tertiary Institutions,” the statement adds.
As a result of the threat by the police in Abia State to arrest the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu if he comes home for his mother’s burial, the family spokesman, Emma Kanu has appealed to the state Commissioner of police, Ene Okon to leave his elder brother alone.
In this interview with OKEY SAMPSON in Umuahia, the younger Kanu said the IPOB leader has not done anything wrong that could warrant his arrest, claiming that he (Nnamdi) has embarked on a voyage that will even liberate CP Okon himself.
Abia State Commissioner of Police said your brother, Nnamdi Kanu would be arrested if he comes home for your mother’s burial, what’s your reaction?
Arrest my brother for what offence? He should leave Nnamdi Kanu alone and go after the Fulani herdsmen who have been killing people in Abia State and elsewhere. What has he (CP) done about the Fulani herdsmen and the rest of it? And what is Nnamdi Kanu’s crime to him?
If one may ask, is the IPOB leader actually coming home for the burial?
We’ve not finalized on that.
The CP said Kanu’s crime is that he was declared wanted by the court.What’s your take on that?
Please ask the commissioner of police how many Fulani herdsmen he arrested and taken to court. Also ask him, how many people who have killed people in this country in the name of Islam has he arrested and taken to court; how much more a man who has done nothing wrong. If CP Okon does not know, inform him that Nnamdi Kanu’s agitation is for his own good, short and simple, IPOB has come to liberate him because he is a Biafran too. Forget about his open denials we know why it is so, but deep down inside him, he knows that what I’m saying is the truth, that he is a Biafran inside out.
Police say it would not entertain any group in the name of IPOB during your mother’s burial because it is a proscribed organization. Do you have anything to say on this?
Proscribed by who, by a Kangaroo court? Proscribed by Kangaroo court, yes, rubber stamp court, yes. I was expecting the CP to stand firm and make sure the Fulani herdsmen and Boko Haram and the rest of them are proscribed and not IPOB because we do not carry gun nor do we carry any weapon.
The CP should know that my mother’s body does not belong to IPOB alone, but to humanity around the world. I will like to know what exactly Nnamdi Kanu has done to Abia State commissioner of police as a person. If the proscription of IPOB was sensible enough, tell him that I said Nnamdi Kanu has come to liberate him from the shackles of the Hausa/Fulani oligarchy.
Following news that has gone viral in recent time that the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu would return home for his mother’s burial, Abia State Commissioner of police, Ene Okon in this interview with OKEY SAMPSON in Umuahia has sounded it loud and clear that police in the state will not spare Kanu if he sets foot in Abia for his mother’s burial or any other thing for that matter. This, Okon said was because the IPOB leader was declared wanted. The CP equally warned that police will not hesitate to arrest any IPOB member who may want to identify himself as belonging to the pro Biafra group during the burial.
IPOB said their leader, Nnamdi Kanu will be coming home for his mother’s burial. What do we expect from the police?
Well, if members of IPOB are speculating that, the police do not know that one. What I know is that Nnmadi Kanu jumped bail and escaped and is wanted and remains a wanted man. Until that time, but I couldn’t tell you about police action on anything that is speculation, until he comes.
The mother is dead and from every tendency he is likely coming back to bury her. What will be police reaction if he comes back?
If he comes back and submits himself to the police, police will know what to do at that time. Like I said earlier, we do not deal on speculation, but if actually he will come back, then we will know what to do.
If he comes back and fails to submit himself as you will want him to, what will police do?
If he submits himself, we have to take him before the court, but where if he fails to submit himself to the police if he comes back, he is a wanted man; he is a wanted man and the law on somebody that is wanted is clear. Even you as a private person or civilian can arrest a wanted man and hand him over to the police. Then what will police do? If someone is wanted and police sees that person, definitely he will be arrested by the police and handed over to the court.
Nnamdi Kanu has said without number that he has not done anything that would warrant the court to declare him wanted. Do you agree with him?
Did he jump bail or not? He had a case in court, he was granted bail, and he jumped bail. So, when somebody jumps bail, what do you call that one? If he claims he did not do anything, he that will be an illusion, living in the inclination of the grandeur. The fact remains that he jumped bail and escaped; and he is wanted, he is wanted. So, that is the position.
There is this thinking in some quarters that since the mother died, police would have sympathy and allow him to come home and bury her.
Don’t you think along that line?
The court will decide and not the police. But the fact remains that once any person is declared wanted, wherever the police see him in any corner of Nigeria, the person will be arrested.
Since you said the IPOB leader will be arrested if he comes home because he was declared wanted, he has been moving freely abroad, why have the police not made any effort to nab him?
That has to do with international law and a lot of things are involved that require going through Interpol.
Some people believe Nigeria police is acting as local lords in this matter. Why has it not initiated that move for Interpol to get the IPOB leader arrested?
That’s a question I cannot answer, there is international dimension to it. The Federal Government has to come in here. You know Nigeria is a member of Interpol, a member of international organizations that have treaties; it has to go through these treaties, conventions and all that. You can’t just jump over some of these things and you say you want to arrest somebody, no, there are procedures. We are in a country that has treaties with other countries, we need a whole lot of laws and all that and you have to go through all those procedures, it’s not a day’s job.
Members of IPOB see Nnamdi Kanu’s mother as equally their mother and customarily may be preparing to come out en masse to give her a befitting burial. What will the police do if this happens?
Until that time, wait and see what police will do.
Are there security measures to be put in place by the police during the burial ceremony?
As at now you are just saying what people are speculating, we have not known or heard that the family has fixed the burial and all that.
Until that time, when we know and when the family tells us their mother is going to be buried, then we will know how and what to say, but for now, people are speculating. So, we cannot wake up and start issuing statement on mere speculation. We have our own intelligence, when the time comes, we will get our own intelligence and know what to say or do.
Won’t it be wise for police to give warning early enough to those who may want to foment trouble in whatever guise during the burial?
We don’t warn on rumour, we will only warn when we gather intelligence, we subject intelligence to analysis and all that and if we are convinced of the intelligence, we will do the needful.
If IPOB applies to the police to be allowed to formally take part in the burial, what will be your response as the Commissioner?
Who will apply to the police?
I mean IPOB
A proscribed organization to do what? A terrorist organization will apply to the police? Okay, when they apply, let them put their names, their correct names so that we know what to do. By the way, how do you expect police to honour application by a proscribed and terrorist organization? We are even looking for them, let them apply and put the names of their leaders in the application as that will give us a very good ground to do the needful.
Dr. Nafiu Baba Ahmed, is a lawyer and Secretary General of the Supreme Council for Sharia in Nigeria. In this interview with ABDULLAHI HASSAN, he warned that his organisation would not support power rotation between the North and South in 2023, insisting that the side with the largest population of voters should have it. He also spoke on the need to extend the implementation of sharia laws to Southwest Nigeria because of the predominance of Muslims in at least four of the six states in the zone.
Many Nigerians don’t know the difference between your organization and Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, can you educate them?
Quite honestly, many people mistake Supreme Council for Sharia with Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs. Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs is an extension of Jama’atul Nasirul Islam, JNI, because previously JNI was an umbrella organization for all Islamic groups in the country and it is led by Emirs with Sultan as president. During late Sultan Ibrahim Dasuki, it was extended, and late Abdullateef Adegbite became the Secretary- General. Gradually, the Southwest Muslims considered the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, SCIA, as umbrella organization. But SCIA is largely made up of Emirs led by the Sultan. So it has severe limitations because all the Emirs including the Sultan are all appointees of government, so when the issue of sharia came up around 2001, we felt the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs and Jama’atul Nasrul Islam cannot take the mantle of leadership of protecting the interest of Nigerian Muslims particularly for canvassing sharia as right for Muslims because they tilt towards the interest of government for fear of losing their position or status. So we formed the supreme council for sharia in Nigeria. We approached Supreme Council for Islamic affairs and told them that you know your limitations, you cannot handle the issue we can handle though we can partner. Later, we parted ways because we realized that they wanted us to get clearance from them for anything we want to do, and of course, they cannot engage in any controversial issues that will entail criticizing government policies even if those are against the interest of Muslims. We parted ways and took our independent path. In short, SCIA and our organization are two independent bodies. Sometimes, we get united when we agree and we sometimes part ways when we disagree on some issues that concern Muslims. In other words, Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs is more of governmental control while Supreme Council for Sharia is entirely private. It brings all Islamic groups together where there is an issue at hand especially critical issues affecting Muslims and Islam regardless of what the government will feel about it, once it is on teaching of and commandment of Allah.
Would you say that the purpose of setting up your organization has been achieved because not all the states in the North practise sharia law , and where it’s practiced , it’s not really effective?
When the issue of sharia came up, a lot of devoted Muslims who know the true teaching of Islam were excited about it because it is a long dream; when and how we can format our lives to conform with the teaching of Islam, sharia. Nigeria since colonial history was considered to be a secular state, which means that Nigeria is a country with no any single religion adopted as law of governance. But we do not believe that there is no any authority that will reject religion in its affairs. In any case, it could be a self deceit to do that after all government has engaged in matters relating to religion all the time. It is a half-truth to claim that Nigeria has no business with religion. So Sharia is the right of all Muslims. It does not affect the right of other non- Muslims to that extent, we felt that we need to take necessary steps to ensure that the dream is actualized. A lot of governors that time did not understand it or did not like it for political reasons. In other words, they didn’t want to be seen as too religious but because of the pressure, a lot of governors were forced to adopt it. For example, the Kano state governor, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso; he had no choice than to adopt it, though he did not believe in it, and he did not like it, he had no choice than to bend to the wish of the people while necessary structures like penal code were fully adopted. The penal code inherited from Northern Nigeria in at least ten states were amended to suite the provision of sharia. To that extent, I can say Sharia was successful because the laws were there only, we needed people with political will and commitment to the people to ensure that it is implemented.
Secondly, the feeling that sharia was going to violate or tamper with the right of non Muslims is false. There is need to understand that sharia only affects Muslims. So all these issues had been cleared. We can say that the implementation of sharia was successful, but the argument could be the absence of leaders with the political will to fully implement it. Even the first governor who muted the idea and started it , did not have the commitment , he was saying one thing but doing another thing differently. We thank God, Allah has helped his religion by getting sharia back as right of Muslims. We have got some institutions which some religious groups are fighting against, like the Islamic economic system, Islamic banking and Islamic insurance. These were some issues that were rejected before but now accepted as best system. The movement for sharia has succeeded , at least it is now a reality. The question of implementation is a different thing. I am not saying it’s a total success but it has to be gradually. It is common to any struggle, if you go through the life of Prophet Muhammad (SAW), you will discover he has passed through difficulties in preaching and other tests but eventually, he succeeded. As at now, we have scaled through the first stage, that those who believe that Nigeria is a secular country are beginning to change, the Muslims are beginning to accept the Sharia as Muslims while non-Muslims have understood that sharia is the right of Muslims, not theirs. You see, Sharia can operate in isolation with certain societal values, and system or laws, for example, Usery (Riba).
There is a controversy over the elimination of death penalty in the constitution of Nigeria, what is the position of your organization?
Well , the position of Islam I guess is the same position with Christianity, because when the controversy arose, I could remember when UN passed a convention against violation of human rights, by eliminating death penalty, Muslims and Christians rose against it, a lot of Christians believe that it should be as it is in the bible; an eye for an eye , truth for truth. Criminal law, law of retribution is there, they are borrowed from religious teachings; both Bible and Qur’an to act as deterrent, if you kill a person intentionally. If you are not punished, then it will be an encouragement to perpetuate the act. So Islam is strongly in support of the death penalty and that is our position. If you kill a person intentionally, you shall be killed.
Though, in Islam, there is a provision for pardon, you can say we pardon you in lieu, then you pay some amount as “ Diyya’’. It is a criminal case against a state but those aggrieved, the relations or parents of the deceased are right owners of the negations. You see, with weak laws, we can see the impunity. People are always killing people, the soldiers take criminals and shoot them, nobody is saying anything. So impunity has become part of the Nigerian psyche, unfortunately. From religious perspective, death penalty should remain.
Some people argue that your group was set up to promote Islamic extremism, what do you have to say on this?
People are entitled to their opinion and point of view, and no matter what we do, some people cannot get over their personal prejudices, bigotry.
You see, we’ll be going against the teaching of Islam if we insist on Islamizing Nigeria, because the doctrines of sharia in the Qur’an is that there is no compulsion in Islam. The Jews would have been finished, wiped out from the earth, but the protection they received from Islamic teachings saved them. They were allowed to retain their religion. The Christians in Egypt, Lebanon and Syria have been Christians for over 1000 or 2000 years living with Muslims, there was never a time when attempt was made to compel them to join Islam. They are protected because they had scriptures. It is not true that we are trying to Islamize Nigeria, it is a statement based on prejudice, and desire to give us a bad name. We are not concerned about that, our concern is to protect right of Muslims and project it in limelight.
Whether some people saw it that way or not, it’s not our business because there is nothing you can do with some people’s perception, no matter, good or bad.
Would your organization want to see sharia practiced across Nigeria, in the 36 states?
No, no. You cannot implement sharia in Cross River, Akwa Ibom or Enugu, Anambra or Ebonyi. It ‘ll look absurd, and it’s against the teaching of Islam. We’ll live together with those states who are predominantly Christians because that is how God wants it and told us what to do. We respect people’s religion as I respect my own.
Our mission is to see the implementation of sharia in states that are predominantly Muslims. In the North, seven states, Southwest, four states, only Ondo and Ekiti have lesser Muslims numbers. Even if it is implemented in those states only Muslims will be applied to.
Police recently rescued some children from Kano city allegedly kidnapped and converted into Christianity in one of the states in South- East. How do you react to that?
Well, the issue of kidnapping is a new phenomenon. If you were to reverse the situation, Muslims, kidnapping one or two of Christian children, the world would have been shouting about it. But the Christians have been doing it and government of Nigeria is not doing anything. We are happy that the police have made moves and intervened to ensure that the children had been taken back to their parents. But up till now, we have not seen any report stating that the suspects have been arraigned before court of law. This has been the practice in Nigeria, the government allows it for political reasons. Our own brothers; Muslims in position will not do anything. That is the tragedy in Nigeria. Government must put a stop to this because if they do not , it can escalate to unfortunate situation. The recent cases that involved children from Kano, Gombe, Bauchi ,Kaduna and others is a continuation of what has been going on for a long time. A few years ago, a church in Benin went and took children from the Camp of Internally Displaced persons (IDPs) in Borno and Yobe states to Benin city in Edo state. We sent people who met in the church and some of us wanted to interview some of the pastors on why the children were converted to Christianity and indoctrinated against their religion and people, but the government has not done anything. Unless the government responds to its primary responsibility by being fair and just, as well as protecting the right of individuals in respective of his or her religion, it is a recipe for crises. So we appeal to government, before people begin to take laws into their hands , those apprehended in committing the act of kidnapping should be punished so that people should know and learn lessons. A similar case happened 15 year ago, in Plateau state. After the massacre of muslims in Yelwan Shedam in 2004, the Christians took away over 250 girl children as booties. We at the Supreme Council for Sharia, have taken up the case to all security agencies, we even met Jonathan when he was acting President, and the then National Security Adviser.We also wrote several letters to the Inspector General of Police but nothing was done. They were taken as slaves and forced to convert to Christianity all in Plateau state. Any government that allows this will not achieve meaningful progress in peaceful co-existence. There can never peace without justice.
Why didn’t you approach Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN instead of insisting on government to solve the problem?
You see our experience with CAN is more with leaders. The leaders are not religious. Because they will you tell untrue stories, with their prejudice or defend their faith. In Islam if we are wrong we accept when somebody tells you, you are wrong. It is necessary for government to come in because it is either they are defending or trying to justify what’s happening. In fact the government of Plateau state and leaders of Christian churches have all denied it yet it is an undeniable fact. So of what use if we engage them? We had no option than to inform the state to protect its citizens. Save the right of these girls and their parents who have been in grief for 15 years.
What should be the role of religious leaders in Nigeria’s politics?
I can only speak about Muslim leaders. My own view on the kind of role they should play, because I have seen the role of the Christian leaders, now let me talk about my own perspective. We had a governor, a Christian cleric in Taraba state who died, who had numerous cases with EFCC. We have had another one in Plateau who is claimed to be a religious bigot. They had bad records. Their religious teaching or faith has not impacted on their leadership role as leaders. In my view, Muslim leaders should not engage in partisan politics ,seeking political office. This is against the background that the democracy we practice harps on perpetual division within the society through political parties that are struggling for power. This is bound to cause a division. If a respected Islamic scholar contests for position under a particular party, then others will begin to see you from that party, not as a scholar or clergy; whatever you say, they will look at it from party angle. What they should do is to remain as successor of Prophet who teaches and stands for the truth and justice irrespectiveof whoever, whether the government or the governed. Tell the people what and how they should live. That is their role and any move to join partisan politics will cost them their respect and reputation. But equally, they should actively be involved in ensuring the emergence of credible leadership at the different levels in the country. If scholars remain with true teaching on the religious doctrines, they will exert serious influence in determining who is to be what in politics, rather than going to governors’ offices for favour.
What’s your view on Ruga settlement and the controversy it generated?
There is nothing new about Ruga settlement, but the people of the South and a section of Christians have made up their mind on the issue and this is very unfortunate. There is no any tribe that has the adaptability to settle anywhere in the world like Fulani. The communities have been living in peace with them. All of a sudden, problem cropped up which has social and political undertone. The political undertone now; is that people saying we don’t want Fulani to live in our area because of their religious background.
With the expansion of population, the colonial government drew grazing areas for the cattle and there was never any problem. But with the growing population, a lot these lands had been taken away. When they move they have no choice than to allow animals pass through farms. There is nothing wrong with the concept of Ruga. It is just animal husbandry in an organized way. It’s an important aspect of agriculture which is the main stream of the nation’s economy. Some people are against it because of the people involved. Governors of Benue, Taraba and to some extent Plateau were against it because of the Fulani tribe only. Fulani had been living in many settlements for years, Mambila zone in Taraba state is typical example of an area where Fulani live for years but what happened, many were killed there for no reason. So you see when government allows people to be killed with no reason there is tendency for violence.
Do you support power rotation or zoning arrangement between the North and the South?
My view and that of my Council and other Muslim organizations we relate with is that democracy is a game of numbers. Henceforth, we’ll not associate with any political party that seeks to subvert the fundamental principles of democracy which is numbers. Why should the majority accept minority leadership just for a principle of zoning. Let anybody qualified to contest for any position or feels he has sufficient numbers of support and credibility get it, so be it. We’ll not support any zoning. Anybody that comes with parochial thought of zoning or rotation, we’ll reject. Any credible person, be he Hausa, Yoruba or any person could canvass for support and free to be elected. The argument of the advocates for rotation does not hold water , it is self-serving and I feel that they don’t have the numbers so the only way for them to scale through is hide under this, with negative propaganda. Nobody can intimidate us , we ‘ll never accept this arrangement.
If you meet Buhari today, what will you tell him?
Well, I know President Muhammadu Buhari very well. With all sense of humility, I personally, the Council and affiliate groups worked for Buhari more than any political party with the help of God to attain the position of President. What I will say to him is that I pray for him to succeed and strongly urge him to have the fear of God. He should not allow political expediency to dictate decision; fairness and justice should be his guiding principles.