By Dipo Olowookere
A lawmaker in the House of Representatives, Mrs Tolulope Akande-Sadipe, has warned members of the public against labelling Miss Chidinma Ojukwu as a criminal until the court convicts her of the murder of the CEO of Super TV, Mr Usifo Ataga.
On June 24, 2021, Miss Ojukwu, a 300 Level student of the University of Lagos, Akoka, was paraded in public by the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr Hakeem Odumosu, in connection with the gruesome killing of Mr Ataga in Lagos earlier in the month.
When she was paraded by the police, she admitted sniffing the life out of the victim but a few weeks later, she claimed in an interview that she did not murder the media practitioner.
According to her, someone else must have murdered the married 50-year-old amateur boxer when she went out of the short-let she rented to buy food outside.
Her U-turn spurred reactions from different quarters and days after the interview, the police said more suspects were apprehended after establishing a case of conspiracy in the killing.
For Mrs Akande-Sadipe, who represents Oluyole Federal Constituency of Oyo State at the lower chamber of the National Assembly, allowing the key suspect in the murder case and parading her before the media would likely jeopardise the investigation.
In a motion moved last Tuesday, the lawmaker frowned at this practice of parading suspects in public when investigations are yet to be concluded. She also said the police was merely doing a media trial, which allows members of the public to label Miss Ojukwu as a criminal when she has not been found guilty of the offence.
The House of Reps member, therefore, called on the police to ensure that the accused person “does not die in custody or commit suicide while awaiting trial as in some past cases.”
She also asked the parliament to prevail of the Nigeria Police to stop the ongoing media trial of Ms Ojukwu, emphasising that, “This motion is not about Chidinma, her ethnicity, gender or her background, it’s is about doing things right and following due process of the law, it is about the broader issues of police violation of Human rights.”
The Chairman of the House Committee on Diaspora Affairs stressed that if Ms Ojukwu continues to be paraded about for a social media trial, it could affect the determination and outcome of the case, as well as amounts to a breach of her fundamental right to a fair hearing, especially where she is labelled or treated as one guilty of a crime.
“Cognizant that Section 36(5) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) provides that every person who is charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed to be innocent until he is proved guilty.
“Thus, so long as Ms Ojukwu has not been proven guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction, she is not to be labelled a criminal or paraded about to conduct series of interviews on a case currently under investigation.
“Rather, the police are to conduct a proper investigation and allow the court to consider the matter and make an informed judgment,” a part of her motion read.
She said the police should rather conclude its investigation in her matter and charge her to court for trial rather than the ongoing media trial the suspect is being made to go through.
Mrs Akande-Sadipe, therefore, called on the Inspector-General of Police to call all police personnel to order and ensure that there is no repeat of violation of human rights and media access to arrested persons in the future to avoid compromising the case in a court of law.
LG Polls: Ogun Imposes Movement Restriction
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Ogun State Government has announced a statewide restriction of movement between 7 am and 4 pm on Saturday, July 24, 2021, to allow for the conduct of local government elections.
The State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Abdulwaheed Odusile, said the restriction was at the instance of the Ogun State Independent Electoral Commission (OGSIEC), which is conducting the councilorship and chairmanship elections in all the 236 wards across the 20 local government areas in the state.
However, during the period of the restriction, voters will be free to move to their polling centres within their neighbourhood and cast their votes for the candidates of their choice.
The statement urged the electorate to be peaceful and avoid any act that could tarnish the hard-earned reputation of Ogun State as one of the most peaceful states in the country.
This is coming after the Lagos State Government restricted movement between 8 am and 3 pm on Saturday for the same purpose.
Mr Gbenga Omotoso, the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, had said in a statement Thursday that the restriction will enable the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC) to conduct hitch-free elections across the 57 local government areas and local council development areas in the state.
“The restriction will facilitate the ease of movement of the electorate, election materials and LASIEC officials for the sanctity of the election, effective monitoring and enhanced security,” Mr Omotoso said.
Everybody Needs PR—Yomi Badejo-Okusanya
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
The Group Managing Director of CMC Connect BCW, Mr Yomi Badejo-Okusanya (YBO), has emphasised the importance of Public Relations to organisations and individuals, saying everybody needs PR.
Mr Badejo-Okusanya, who doubles as the president of the African Public Relations Association (APPA), therefore, submitted that efforts should be made to have a better understanding of the profession, noting that PR is different from journalism but both work together to achieve great results.
He called on organisations, leaders, nations, policy and decision-makers to never overlook the value that PR brings to the table.
“Many still bear in mind that PR is only about press releases and organising events whilst those with an understanding of the weight PR professionals pull as a result of their expertise have yielded great results for themselves,” he said.
Mr Badejo-Okusanya, while speaking on the first-ever World PR Day held on July 16, 2021, charged practitioners to push forward the agenda of PR in their daily dealings, stressing that “PR needs PR.”
The APRA leader said the decision to set aside a day for PR and a unified global agenda was indeed a welcome development, stressing that, for the past 33 years, APPA has been able to gather PR Practitioners in Africa and recently across the globe under one roof to push forward the agenda of PR, the profession itself and discuss issues, trends and solutions to PR needs.
“I am delighted because this day speaks to the fact that our effort is yielding results in ways that will take the profession to the level where it belongs and better utilized by organisations, businesses, nations, brands, individuals, decision and policymakers.
“Truth is, everybody needs PR. It is part of our daily lives and PR is about telling a compelling story! This call for unity on a day such as this will bring about great opportunities and collaborations that will be beneficial to our profession in the long run,” he said.
MIIVOC to Train FIRS Officials on FOI Act
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
A group known as the Media Initiative against Injustice, Violence and Corruption (MIIVOC) is taking steps to improve the knowledge of government officials in the implementation of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act of 2011.
Already, it has concluded arrangements with the management of the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) to train key personnel on the provisions and application of the law.
“Knowledge and capacity on the FOI Act are still very low in the country. There is a need for training and retraining of representatives of public institutions on the provisions and applications of the Act.
“Poor understanding of the provisions of the FOI Act is one of the reasons for its poor implementation in Nigeria, particularly, among state actors,” the Executive Director of MIIVOC, Mr Walter Duru, said.
“Section 13 of the FOI Act makes it mandatory for public institutions to ensure the provision of appropriate training for its officials on the public’s right to access information or records held by the government or public institutions, as provided for in this Act,” he added.
“Pursuant to section 13 of the FOI Act, the present management of FIRS approved the training for relevant officials of the Service on the FOI Act, with the view to ensuring increased compliance. The training is to be held on Thursday and Friday this week in Abuja,” Mr Duru also stated.
The MIIVOC chief, who also chairs the board of the Freedom of Information Coalition, Nigeria called on other public institutions in the country to take steps towards enhancing the capacity of their officials through regular training and retraining on the provisions of the Act.
He also called on Nigerian citizens to take advantage of the FOI Act to hold governments at all levels accountable.
Mr Duru, an Assistant Professor of Communication and Multimedia Design at the American University of Nigeria, Yola is the leader of the non-state actors drive on FOI Implementation in Nigeria – Chairman of Freedom of Information Coalition in Nigeria.
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