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NGO decries low enrollment of girls in school


Brookings Institution

A Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Girls Education Mission International (GEMI) has decried the low enrollment of girls in primary and secondary schools in northern Nigeria.

“Education opens windows of opportunities for girls to break the shackles of poverty. It is key to improving living standards; unfortunately, many girls in the north hardly get the opportunity to go to school,” Mrs Keturah Shammah, Executive Director of GEMI, said on Wednesday.

Shammah in Jos said that 60 percent of girls in the north were out of school.

“More than half of the girls of school age are not enrolled; concerted efforts must be made to change the tide otherwise their economic situation would only worsen,” she said.

She said that the NGO had awarded scholarships to 50 girls since inception in 2007, and expressed happiness that five beneficiaries had since graduated and were working.

The official said that the Jos-based NGO would mark the annual International Day of the Girl-Child in a rural community in Lere Local Government in Kaduna State, to sensitise and create awareness to stakeholders on the need to empower girls through education.

She said that this year’s theme for the international day of the girl child, “Empower Girls: Before, During and after Conflict”, was a challenge to the world to stop discriminating against girls.

“Girls must be enrolled into schools; it is the only way to prepare them to build a better society,” she said.

Shammah said that the NGO would hold a town hall meeting with key stakeholders on ways to promote enrollment of girls in schools.

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Crime

Why we can’t arrest, prosecute Oshiomhole now – EFCC tells court

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has provided reasons it cannot arrest and prosecute former Governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole now.

The anti-graft agency is challenging the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court in Abuja to compel it to arrest and prosecute Oshiomhole, over allegation that he diverted public funds to his personal use while in office as governor.

EFCC admitted that it has received petitions accusing the All Progressives Congress, APC, National Chairman of complicity in acts of corruption, but added that it was not under any obligation to report or give account of its investigations to any individual or under a timeline within which to carry out its functions.

The anti-graft agency, therefore, urged the high court to dismiss the suit that is seeking to invoke an order of mandamus to compel it to initiate criminal proceedings against the embattled APC Chairman.

The suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/628/2018, was filed before the court by Edo State based cleric and activist, Bishop Osadolor Ochei.

The cleric wants the court to declare that EFCC has a statutory duty to investigate different petitions that contained allegations of financial recklessness against Oshiomhole.

The pastor told the court that Oshiomhole who was sued as the 2nd Respondent, while in office as Edo state governor, acquired properties in United States of America, South Africa and Dubai worth billions of U.S. dollars and far in excess of his legitimate income.

He alleged before the court that Oshiomhole built a sprawling mansion worth more than N10billion in his home town known as Iyamho, while in office.

The pastor told the court that “The said building was constructed by Verissimo, a South African Architectural outfit. The said house of the 2nd Respondent has swimming pools, water fountains, multiple theatres for cinema and live performances, huge event halls, bridges, manmade lake, lodges of different sizes amongst others.

“The said cost of building the mansion is well outside the 2nd Respondent’s legitimate income. The 2nd Respondent’s lifestyle and extent of the said property were not justified by his source of income.”

The pastor told the court that he sent a petition to the EFCC on November 4, 2016, where he detailed some corrupt practices he said the ex-governor was involved in.

He maintained that EFCC’s refusal to act on petitions containing “weighty allegations” against Oshiomhole, ran contrary to Section 15(5) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which enjoined the State to abolish corrupt practices.

But the EFCC, in a preliminary objection that was signed by its team of lawyers led by the Head of its Legal and Prosecutions Department, Mr. G.K. Latona, challenged the locus- standi of the Applicant to file the action.

The anti-graft agency said it has discretion on how to use its available manpower to carry out investigations into petitions submitted to it.

“That investigation of cases is a holistic process which entails time, resources, inter-agency cooperation, interview of different persons and gathering of evidence over a long period of time depending on the nature of the case and other variables”, it told the court.

Besides, the Commission, in an 11-paragraphed affidavit that was deposed to by one of its staff, Mr. Yusuf Musa, told the court that it conducts its investigations “professionally and discreetly” before the arrest and prosecution of indicted persons.

“That 1st Respondent is a statutory body charged principally with the responsibility of investigation and prosecution of economic and financial crimes.

“That the 1st Respondent since its establishment In 2003 and till date receives numerous petitions daily in its eleven offices in various parts of the country against different persons both from within and outside Nigeria.

“That investigation into these numerous petitions and criminal complaints including intelligence reports are professionally and methodically carried out by the 1st Respondent in line with its staff strength and enabling statute.

“That 1st Respondent in carrying out its statutory functions of investigation and prosecution of economic and financial crimes, attends to all complaint discreetly and dispassionately without political, ethnic, religious and other extraneous considerations.

“That the 1st Respondent had strengthened the war against corruption with various initiatives amongst which is the Women Against Corruption Coalition and the encouragement of Whistle Blower Policy leading to several recoveries of illicit cash.

“That the 1st Respondent has discretion on how to use its available manpower to carry out investigations into petitions submitted to it.

“That Respondent is not under obligation to report or give account of its investigations to any individual or under a timeline within which to carry out its functions”, EFCC averred.

It said it would be in the interest of justice for the court to strike out the suit which it said lacked competency and constituted an abuse of the judicial process.

In a written address attached in support of the objection, EFCC, argued that granting an order for Oshiomhole’s arrest and prosecution as prayed for in the suit could occasion ” chaos and tumult” in the polity.

“We submit, with respect, that if this Honourable Court grants the reliefs of the Applicant, especially as it affects the 1st Respondent, that it wiIl open a deluge of applications with the over-all aim of making the Applicant a stooge of litigant who desire to dictate to the 1st Respondent how, when, where and against whom the 1st Respondent should proceed in the discharge of its functions. The chaos and tumult that this scenario may generate in the pointy can only be Imagine.

“It is inimical to the tenor and tenets of a democratic society for an agency such as the 1st Respondent to be directed or compelled to discharge its functions in a particular way or manner, a fortiori the 1st Respondent cannot be directed or compelled to carry out investigations or prosecution as dictated by the Applicant or anyone.

“We urge this Honourable Court to dismiss the Applicant’s application, same being unmeritorious and lacking in merit”, EFCC added.

It will be recalled that Oshiomhole had also queried the powers of the court to order EFCC to prosecute him on the basis of the suit.

While acknowledging the powers of the anti-graft EFCC to probe financial and economic crimes, Oshiomhole, through his lawyer, Mr. Damian Dodo, SAN, contended that the court could not okay him to be investigated on the strength of a petition he said was lodged against him since 2016.

He argued that the suit has become statute barred, saying the Applicant ought to have instituted the action within three months after the first petition was filed against him before the EFCC.

The APC Chairman noted that the cleric first wrote a letter to the EFCC on October 28, 2016, drawing its attention to the allegations of financial misappropriation he made against him.

He told the court that the Applicant wrote another letter that was received by the anti-graft agency on December 13, 2016, reminding it of his pending petition that was allegedly not acted upon by the EFCC.

“The action of the 1st Respondent (EFCC) which is being subjected to review by the instant proceedings for Judicial Review, last occurred on December, 2016, while the proceeding for Judicial Review was commenced on 13th June, 2018, eighteen months after the occurrence of the alleged failure being complained about.

“The suit is statute-barred by virtue of the facts stated above and the Applicant/Respondent’s right of action (if any) has become unenforceable”, Oshiomhole contended.

Oshiomhole insisted that the that cleric failed to show how actions he took while in office as Governor, “affected him over and above other residents and indigenes ot Edo State.

“This Honourable Court is robbed of jurisdiction to entertain this suit for failure of the Applicant/Respondent to commence this action within the time provided by extant rules of this Honourable Court and/or for failure to disclose locus standi to institute the action”, the former Governor added.

However, the trial Justice, Anwuli Chikere has fixed November 19 to commence hearing on the matter.

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Killing, destroying people’s property is not part of Jihad – Emir Sanusi

The Emir of Kano, Alhaji Muhammad Sanusi 11, on Sunday insisted that the ongoing killings and destruction of property in some parts of the country is not part of Jihad as being speculated in some quarters.

Sanusi made this declaration in his speech at the grand finale of the 10th anniversary celebration of the Muslim Ummah of South West Nigeria (MUSWEN) and N5b launch of MUSWEN International Centre, which took place at the International Conference Centre, University of Ibadan.

At the event were Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State, Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State, who was represented by Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Hon. Suraj Adekunbi, MUSWEN Executive Secretary, Professor Daud Noibi, Chairman, MUSWEN Board of Trustees, Prince Abdul-Jabar Bola Ajibola (SAN).

Sanisu insisted that Islam is a religion of peace, adding that national security should not be threatened or undermined all in the name of Jihad.

The Emir added that, “Killing people in the name of Jihad is not Jihad. Allah does not prohibit us to cater for and take care of people.

“So, what we see with people destroying the peace of the nation is not a Jihad.

“We must keep the promise with those we promised. These who are leaders, you are expected to fulfil your promises to the people when you assume office. It doesn’t matter if you ask God to make you President, Governor, Emir, Principal, it does not matter but you promised Allah that I will take care of people but you fail.

“Islam does not allow a Muslim to take away property of the people unjustly, who does not fight you. Fight only those who fight you. Even, there are rules in the war, you don’t fight the children, the aged and women”.

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2019: EU, UK, US, 22 countries speak on violence, vote-buying, intimidating

The international community has spoken against violence, intimidation and vote-buying as campaigns for the 2019 elections kicked off on Sunday.

The international community also called for campaigns devoid of hate speech.

They further pointed out that the Independent Electoral Commission, INEC, must be allowed to operate freely, adding that the commission must demonstrate neutrality and professionalism.

The International Community also reiterated its commitment to supporting democracy in Nigeria, urging political and non-political actors to take a firm stance against violence.

Signatories to a statement in Abuja yesterday include the European Union (Delegation to Nigeria), France, Germany, United Kingdom, United States, Australia, Austria and Bulgaria. Others were Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden.

It reads, “As friends of Nigeria and its people, we will follow the campaigns and election process closely. Who wins the elections is for the Nigerian people to decide. Our concern is to see a process leading to free, fair, transparent and peaceful elections.

“We hope to see transparent campaigns and we urge all voters to use their democratic right and vote. We are particularly keen to see greater participation of women, youth and people living with disabilities.

“We urge all involved, political and non-political actors, to refrain from using hate speech and take a firm stance against violence.

“The 2015 Peace Accords played an important role in that regard and we welcome new efforts towards that end. We were gravely concerned over widespread incidents of intimidation, interference and vote-buying during the recent gubernatorial elections.

“We were also perturbed by irregularities and violence during party primaries, and noted with particular concern, that several women candidates were disenfranchised.”

“We reiterate the importance of INEC as it fulfils its constitutional role. INEC must be allowed to operate free from outside pressure and intimidation, and in turn must demonstrate full neutrality and professionalism.

“We encourage that adequate funding is swiftly facilitated for INEC and supporting institutions and, we hope to see the entry, into force, of improvements to the Electoral Act, as soon as possible.

“We wish to draw particular attention to the fundamental role of the security agencies in providing a safe and secure environment for the Nigerian people to exercise their democratic rights.

“It is vital that security agencies act, and are seen to act, in an impartial manner that maintains the high standards of professional conduct.

“We strongly support the principle of media freedom and the vital role the independent media plays in ensuring informed public debate.

“We also stress the importance of balanced, neutral and non-defamatory coverage.”

“We encourage Nigeria and its people to consolidate and deepen democracy, building on the standards set in 2015.”

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