By Dipo Olowookere
The arrest and continued detention of rights activist, Mr Aku Obidinma, by the Department of State Services (DSS) in Imo State has vehemently been condemned by a civil society organisation in Nigeria called Media Initiative against Injustice, Violence and Corruption (MIIVOC).
Expressing his frustration over the matter, Executive Director of MIIVOC, Dr Walter Duru, warned that the DSS action was an abuse of the fundamental human rights of the citizen.
While addressing newsmen on Thursday in Owerri, Mr Duru described the Secret Police’ action as politically motivated, urging the DSS to desist from getting involved in politics, but concentrate on their constitutional duty of internal security.
“If DSS has any evidence of breach of state security against Mr Aku Obidinma, they should charge him to court and not illegally detain him in perpetuity. It amounts to impunity.
“Information at our disposal suggests that the coordinator of Imo Bilie Initiative, Mr Aku Obidimma was arrested on Monday, 21st November, 2016 by men of the DSS. He is said to have attended a radio programme in Owerri on Monday, 21st November, 2016 and was dropped off by his colleagues and that was the last time anyone had contact with him. His phones have been switched off.
“We are reliably informed that he is in the custody of the DSS. He has been there without communication and nobody, including his family members has been allowed access to him. This is most unfortunate.”
Continuing, Mr Duru warned against any attempt to muscle freedom of expression in the state, insisting that the people’s fundamental rights be respected.
It would be recalled that Mr Obidimma, a former aide of Imo State Deputy Governor, Mr Eze Madumere has been a fiery critic of his former boss.
It is not clear if his arrest is connected to his critical stance against his former boss, but sources within the state government house reveal that Mr Madumere may have a hand in his ordeal.
Land Grabbing: Group Tells Lagos to Obey Supreme Court Judgement
By Mohammed Kerimu
Members of the Shangisha/Magodo Landlord Association of Nigeria have advised the Lagos State Government to obey and execute the judgement of the supreme court ordering the allocation of 549 plots of land them.
This call was made on Friday at a press conference organised by the group, where the Chairman of the association, Mr Adebayo Adeyiga, addressed newsmen in Lagos.
The group appealed to the state government to complement the efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari by executing the court order and not to continue to show attitudes suggesting that the state is operating a different constitution other than the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which President Buhari and Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State swore to defend.
The body emphasised that as long as Lagos State was still part of the Nigerian federation, it must operate within the context of the law because the state itself is a creation of the Nigerian Constitution.
The group wondered why Lagos State Government that is among the states clamouring for the implementation of a court decision on the collection of Value Added Tax (VAT) even when the matter is still in the court could turn a blind eye to the execution of the supreme court judgement ordering the allocation of 549 plots of land to members of the group.
It will be recalled that about 37 years ago, the Lagos State Government collected Shangisha/Magodo land belonging to members of the association under the guise that it will use it for the construction of an international standard hospital; relying on the over-riding public interest classification of the Land Use Act of Nigeria.
Accordingly, the state evicted the landlords and pulled down their houses and other immovable properties in the area but to the surprise of everyone, the then administration, instead of using the land for its intended purpose, allegedly converted the land to personal properties; allocating plots to their family members, friends and cronies despite the excruciating pains the original owners were subjected to.
Angered by such development, members of the association initiated several court actions up to the apex court before the supreme court finally ruled that the land should be returned to its original owners since the intended objective was not achieved.
However, the state government paid deaf ears to the judgement behaving as if Lagos State was above the law of Nigeria.
The group, therefore, called on President Buhari and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami to prevail on Lagos State government to execute the judgement of the apex court, saying justice is distorted when the victim pays for the conducts of the accused.
Group Laments Absence of Sign Language Interpreters at TV Stations, Hospitals
By Ashemiriogwa Emmanuel
A former leader of the women’s wing of the Nigerian National Association of the Deaf (NNAD), Mrs Monsurat Abdulwasiu, has raised the issue of exclusion of hearing-impaired individuals, especially in major TV broadcasts.
The counsellor made the complaint to the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, on Thursday during the 2021 annual lecture organized by the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) in partnership with the Albino Foundation and the European Union (EU).
Speaking through an interpreter on behalf of the disadvantaged, Mrs Abdulwasiu said that because many TV stations across the country do not feature sign language interpretations in their major broadcast, persons with disabilities only look at images during news hours without understanding the message.
In her words, “Only the Nigerian Television Authority, NTA, has a sign language interpreter during one of its news hours. In the other media platforms, there are no sign language interpreters. Even in the healthcare sector, no sign language in Nigerian hospitals.
“So, what happens to deaf people when they are reading news, and when they are sick and go to the hospital. Does it mean that we are not entitled to information and healthcare? The government needs to look into this.”
Responding to this, the Minister confirmed this and said he was touched by the point raised, adding that there was a need for sign interpreters during the network news and other major news belts.
Mr Mohammed then assured that he would direct all TV stations in the country, both public and private, to feature sign language interpretation in their major broadcast.
“I am going to ask the NBC to direct all our television stations to ensure that there are sign [language] interpreters in all television stations during their major news hours.
“This will not apply to only the Nigerian Television Authority. Whether public or private television stations, they must comply with the directive.
“This directive will work both ways. It means the complaint of exclusion will be tackled and the persons with disability of hearing will also be included in programs and policies of the government,” he said.
CBN to Inject Fresh N15bn into Lagos Blue Line Railway Project
By Ashemiriogwa Emmanuel
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has said that another tranche of N15 billion is due for disbursement to Lagos State for the completion of the ongoing Blue Line Railway project.
This is part of the N60 billion the apex bank has earmarked for the project of which the sum of N45 billion has been disbursed to the state already.
The provision of the funding by the central bank, through select banks, is under the Differentiated Cash Reserves Requirement (DCRR) intervention to ensure Lagos State had the financial capacity for the project.
Speaking after a tour at the Marina site on Thursday, October 14, to monitor the progress of the infrastructure operated by the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), the Director of CBN Development Finance, Mr Yusuf Philip Yila, remarked that the “progress of the job matches the funding so far.”
“The total amount we have made available for this line is N60 billion. We have disbursed N45 billion. There’s another tranche of N15 billion.
“We are confident, based on what has been shown, that progress has been made. Disbursement of the funding is being done in tranches. So, another tranche is due.
“As the central bank, we felt it is important to come and see what is on the ground and the quality of work is quite impressive,” Mr Yila disclosed.
Evaluating the work done on the site so far, he noted the job opportunities that have been opened to young Nigerians in the state through the avenue which includes welding, fabricating and others.
He said, “There are over 500 jobs on-site here, which is a good takeaway. I am happy, having met some of the people on-site and across other stations.”
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