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.
Stakeholders Prepare for 2022 GTCO Autism Conference
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
All is now set for the 2022 edition of the annual GTCO Autism Conference scheduled for Monday, August 29 and Tuesday, August 30 at MUSON Centre, Onikan, Lagos.
This year’s event, the 12th, is themed Creating a Community of Awe-Tism Advocates and will involve different stakeholders, including parents, medical experts, caregivers and others.
Organisers of the programme, which has gained wider acclaim for bringing together some of the world’s leading experts in autism, said the GTCO Autism Conference will feature keynote addresses and panel discussions by experienced specialists from renowned institutions in Nigeria and abroad in a hybrid set-up to allow for both in-person and virtual participation.
In addition, there would be one-on-one consultations and Q&A sessions during the conference to provide opportunities for parents and other stakeholders to further engage on best practices for proper diagnosis and treatment of persons on the autism spectrum with the experts.
Some of the partnering organisations include Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Enugu, Autism Compassion Africa, Ghana, The Color of Autism Foundation, USA, Meharry Medical College, USA, and Behaviorprise Consulting Inc., Canada.
As a special feature and to ensure more persons with developmental disorders can benefit from professional help, provision has been made to offer specialist care to autistic children in the areas of speech and behaviour therapy, child psychology and psychiatry, as well as occupational development for adults living with autism via in-person consultations at the Chapel of Light, Alausa, Ikeja, starting from Tuesday, August 23 to Saturday, August 27 between the hours of 10 am and 5 pm.
“While much has been done over the years to increase the social consciousness around autism and to improve the available support systems for managing developmental disorders, we strongly believe that we can do more individually and collectively to create and uphold a culture of inclusion towards people with ASD to enable them to reach their full potential,” the group chief executive of Guaranty Trust Holding Company (GTCO) Plc, Mr Segun Agbaje, said.
The annual event is a pivotal component of GTCO’s Orange Ribbon initiative and serves as a key advocacy platform for people living with autism and other developmental disorders.
According to Mr Agbaje, “The Orange Ribbon initiative was created to support children and adults with developmental disabilities with a focus on those with autism spectrum disorders.
“Now in its 2nd decade, the annual Autism Conference has over the years created a community of people with a shared commitment to creating better outcomes for those who find themselves in the margins of society simply because they are different from the rest.”
GTCO is a leading financial services company providing banking and non-banking services across eleven countries spanning West Africa, East Africa, and the United Kingdom.
The Group operates a diversified, proudly African franchise and is renowned for its innovative approach to customer service and stakeholder engagement which has endeared the brand to millions of people across Africa and beyond.
Oyo Government Begs Nigerians to Stop Cutting Trees
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
Nigerians have been urged to stop cutting trees and the earth will suffer from it if it is not stopped. This appeal was made by the Oyo State government in commemoration of the 2022 World Ranger Day.
In a statement issued by the Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr Wasiu Olatubosun, the government also saluted the bravery of park rangers at the Old Oyo National Park.
World Ranger Day, which is marked annually on July 31, pays tribute to those who have fallen in the fight to save forests, wild animals and trees, as well as a show of support for those still fighting.
Mr Olatubosun said the state government recognises reforms on forestry laws and policies, through its forestry department, advocating the need for enlightenment on forestry activities and the significance of the world celebrating the day.
He added that Oyo State is enjoying relative peace due to the synergy within the security architecture of the state, noting that the government appreciates the efforts of the guards at the National Park, especially in complementing the security architecture of the state.
“One of the cardinal points of this administration is security. The peace that members of the state are enjoying cannot be over-emphasised without the work of National Rangers in the state,” he said.
“Oyo state government is proud to be associated with you because you have been very helpful tremendously by supporting other security agencies in maintaining peace in all our reserves.
“A ranger protects our cultural and historical heritage. Therefore, we appreciate your efforts. Through your efforts, our park and forests must be kept and saved from intruders,” the Commissioner added.
The Coordinator, Old Oyo National Park, Mrs Caroline Samuel Ilori, said the annual celebration was an opportunity to celebrate rangers that have died in the course of exercising their duties, protecting this park.
She added that the day is set aside to celebrate living rangers who have given their all to having our environment protected.
“We are all aware of climate change in our environment; once protected, the forest helps to cushion and help mitigate climate change,” the Coordinator said.
“A ranger plays a key role in our environment; a ranger is a protector, tour guard, security personnel and researcher. He knows what an environment is lacking,” she concluded.
Welders Association Plan Protest Over PH Refinery Exclusion
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Association of Welders and Fitters in Nigeria has issued an ultimatum to the management of the Port Harcourt Refining Company (PHRC), requesting to be included in the ongoing rehabilitation of the oil facility or face mass protest.
During a peaceful protest at Eleme Council Secretariat, the group said the management has till Thursday to grant their request, expressing displeasure over their alleged non-inclusion in the ongoing rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt refinery.
The President of the Eleme branch of the organisation, Mr Innocent Ejire, said welders and fitters in the area are pained that the management of PHRC excluded them from jobs at the ongoing rehabilitation of the refinery.
Mr Ejire called on the management of PHRC to adhere to the Local Content Act by engaging its members, accusing the management of the refinery of giving jobs to welders from outside while sidelining those who are members of the PHRC’s host community.
“Out of 150 welders and fitters they (refinery) have taken, they have not taken anyone from our community but elsewhere like in Bonny and Omoku; NLNG contractors must give jobs to Ibani Welders and Fitters Association.
“Welders in Bonny and Omoku pass through these associations to get jobs in the companies operated there.
“But here they say no host community will work and since we cannot take the law into our hands. That is why we say let’s come and see our LGA Chairman and give them an ultimatum of 48 hours, if they don’t call us to work, we will meet at the refinery.
“We have written a series of letters which they (refinery) have acknowledged but they continue to turn us back and forth without giving us favourable response,” he said.
Similarly, the spokesperson of the association, Mr Daniel Omekea, urged the council chairman to ensure that the management of the refinery implements the Local Content Act by engaging local welders in the ongoing rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt refinery.
He regretted that Eleme, being the host community of the Port Harcourt refinery has continually been sidelined by the refinery, warning that they will resist all attempts to exclude them from benefiting from jobs at the refinery.
He also said welders and fitters under the association in Eleme are well trained and have what it takes to participate in the refinery’s rehabilitation.
“Many of us were tested and qualified for the jobs, but they did not call us for the jobs.
“There are no welding and fitting jobs we cannot do; we have worked on Shell pipelines and every other pipeline here in Eleme, so it’s not about competence.”
Responding, the Chairman of Eleme Local Government Area of Rivers State, Mr Obarilomate Ollor, promised to look into the complaints of aggrieved welders and fitters.
Mr Ollor assured that the council would initiate a meeting with the management of the refinery towards resolving the matter.
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