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NDVC Decries Disenfranchisement of Nigerians Abroad, Lauds Akande-Sadipe, Others’ Patriotism

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Nigeria Diaspora Voting Council

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

A group known as the Nigeria Diaspora Voting Council (NDVC) has kicked against the decision of the National Assembly not to allow Nigerians living abroad to have the right to vote for candidates seeking public office in the country.

At the recent constitutional amendment review, the lawmakers rejected the clause to allow for diaspora voting as 29 lawmakers at the Senate agreed as 62 against it, while at the House of Representatives, 58 voted Yes and 240 voted No, signifying that the country was not yet ripe for such.

This action did not go down well with NDVC, which described this as the disenfranchisement of Nigerians in the diaspora.

In a statement signed by its secretary, Mr Tolu Oluwatuyi, the group expressed regrets that the Diaspora Voting Bill was voted down by Nigeria’s upper and lower legislative houses on March 1, 2022.

“I am sorry to inform fellow Nigerians in the Diaspora that the Nigeria Diaspora Voting Bill was voted down by Nigeria’s upper and lower legislative houses on March 1st, 2022 at the Constitutional Amendment Review Session (third reading) that held at the National Assembly Complex, Abuja, Nigeria.

“A Bill for an Act to Alter the Provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to Provide for Diaspora Voting; and for Related Matters

“This is a setback given the quantum of work and resources expended to date by the Council and several Diaspora groups. A setback often moves us to a road that is even worse but leads to an even better destination. According to Winston Churchill, Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm,” a part of the statement read.

However, the council reassured Diasporans that NDVC was more determined to succeed than give up the advocacy for Diaspora Voting (DV) in Nigeria.

“NDVC will not relent in its efforts at spreading the gospel of its advocacy until the goal is achieved. Going forward, NDVC will release a timeline of activities in due course.

“Given the renewed determination, the board of NDVC has decided to double-up on its efforts, bring onboard more recognised and influential Diaspora groups that will add value to the advocacy including State Diaspora Focal point officers, widen and intensify the scope of diplomacy, review the provisions of the existing Diaspora Voting Bill with the assistance of NIDCOM, INEC and NASS and re-strategise going forward,” it added.

Meanwhile, the group commended the Chairman, House of Reps Committee on Diaspora, Mrs Tolulope Akande-Sadipe and her team for her patriotism, dedication and commitment to the DV advocacy.

“If there is anyone that deserves all the accolades, it is no other person than the National Assembly Sponsor of the Nigeria Diaspora Voting Bill, Mrs Tolulope Akande-Sadipe, House Committee Chairperson on Diaspora and Electoral Matters.

“Mrs Akande-Sadipe worked relentlessly with her ever untiring team led by Mrs Omoshalewa to ensure that the DV Bill saw the light of the day.

“NDVC cannot thank her enough for the many travels she embarked on during the zonal public hearings, risking her life, just in a bid to ensure that the Diaspora Voting Bill was a success,” the organisation said.

NDVC also appreciated various major stakeholders who have equally been in the constant advocacy for the materialisation of the DV Bill, including the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM); the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) under the chairmanship of Prof Mahmood Yakubu, for the technical know-how support and willingness to help thus far; the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO) and other Diaspora groups and persons for their unflinching support and commitment.

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Buhari Urges Leaders to Tackle Slow AfCFTA Integration

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China Africa AfCFTA

By Adedapo Adesanya

President Muhammadu Buhari has said the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) would succeed if African governments demonstrate a higher level of commitment to tackling the slow pace of physical integration, political cooperation, and tariff barriers that inhibit business integration.

He made this disclosure while addressing the second African Sub-Sovereign Governments Network (AFSNET) Conference on Friday in Abuja, organised by the Afreximbank in collaboration with the secretariat of AfCFTA and the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, the President decried the low-level trade among African countries.

He said, “As leaders, we must all be concerned that we are not trading enough amongst ourselves. It is a bitter reality that Intra-regional trade still accounts for a very tiny fraction of total trade in Africa.

”We have to understand that if this new drive towards a continental free trade area is to succeed, we must demonstrate a higher level of commitment to tackling the slow pace of physical integration due to geographic and political fragmentations, the pace of political cooperation, and difficult tariff and non-tariff barriers that inhibit business integration.

”I am firmly convinced that with the right collaborative action, we will be able to record a much stronger pace of transformation.

”Through shared knowledge, innovation and creativity, we will be better able to cater for the needs of the African continent’s population of over 1.4 billion people,” the President said, urging the Conference to use the network and support provided by pan-African institutions as a platform for the exchange of ideas, knowledge, and skills.

The conference, he said, should also seek and advance innovative solutions to support our common quest for the expansion of intra-Africa trade opportunities for our people.

He commended the conference organisers for demonstrating innovative thinking by taking the AfCFTA to the grassroots, lauding the President of Afreximbank, Mr Benedict Oramah, and his team for committing $250 million as seed capital towards the establishment of the AFSNET.

He acknowledged that the initiative spearheaded by Afreximbank was aimed at firmly establishing and deepening the intra-continental trade investment development frontier for Africa, facilitating the reduction in the continent’s dependence on exports of primary commodities as well as minimizing the risks experienced due to strong reliance on global value chains.

“This opportunity, if properly harnessed, is a significant step for Africa to begin carving its niche in the global value chain, from the constituent units up.

“This will undoubtedly complement broader programmes such as the AfCFTA which remains one of the most strategic pan-African agenda to deliver inclusive and sustainable development,” he said.

The President also recognised the support of the Secretariat of the AfCFTA and the role of its Secretary General, Mr Wamkele Mene, in organizing the conference in Abuja.

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P&ID: Abuja Court Orders Arrest of British National for Jumping Bail

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British national James Nolan

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Federal High Court In Abuja has ordered the arrest of a British national, Mr James Nolan, for jumping bail.

Justice Ahmed Mohammed gave the order after Mr Nolan, a director in the Process and Industrial Development Limited (P&ID), failed to appear for trial.

Mr Nolan is being tried by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) along with Lurgi Consult Limited and others in a money laundering case to the tune of $9.6 billion.

In his ruling, Justice Mohammed said Briton had broken the terms of his bail conditions offered him by the court. He, therefore, revoked the bail and issued a bench warrant for his arrest.

He also ordered Mr Nolan’s surety to appear in court on the next adjourned date to justify why the bail bond should not be forfeited to the court.

The prosecution counsel, Mr Bala Sanga, had earlier prepared to proceed with the cross-examination of prosecuting witness 1, Temitope Erinomo, when the court was informed that the second defendant was nowhere to be found and efforts to ascertain his whereabouts proved abortive.

Mr Sanga expressed dismay with the absence of Mr Nolan in court. He also said the first defendant, Lurgi Consult Limited, has never been represented in court as a corporate body since the matter started.

He told the court that investigations by the EFCC showed that the property given by the surety in Gwagwalada, Abuja, was not worth N100 million and prayed the court to restrain the defence team from further delaying the case.

Responding to the absence of Mr Nolan in court, the defence counsel, Mr Micheal Ajara, claimed that his sudden disappearance was strange.

“My Lord, the defendant in question, has always appeared in court, except for the last adjourned date that he was sick. His medical report shows that he has bipolar, a history of mental illness, and it is uncertain if the defendant is fine. We have notified the police, including the prosecution, and all efforts to ascertain his whereabouts have proven abortive,” he said.

He prayed the court to grant the defence time to ascertain his whereabouts.

However, Justice Mohammed said that the court of law does not act in uncertainty.

“What is clear to the court right now is that the second defendant is nowhere to be found, and there is no justification with a certainty of his whereabouts,” he said.

The judge then granted Sanga prayers for the court to revoke the bail of the second defendant, issue a bench warrant for his arrest and declare his bail bond forfeited.

Recall that P&ID, a firm based in the British Virgin Islands, won a $9.6 billion arbitration award against the Nigerian government after the collapse of a 2010 gas project.

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Meta, NAPTIP Launch Scheme to Help Find Missing Children in Nigeria

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AMBER Alert missing children

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

A programme aimed at helping to find abducted children in Nigeria has been launched by Meta and National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP).

Meta is the parent company of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. Through this initiative called AMBER Alert, security officials can use these social media platforms to inform people of missing children.

The scheme was unveiled on Wednesday and Meta disclosed that it was designed to increase the chances of finding missing children by putting more people on the lookout for them.

When an AMBER Alert is activated by law enforcement, it will appear on the Facebook and Instagram Feed of users within the designated search area, enabling them to share the information instantly with friends or contact the authorities if they have leads.

AMBER Alert is designed to include important information about the missing child such as a photo description, location of the abduction, and other relevant and available information to aid in immediately identifying the missing child.

How AMBER Alert Works

The decision to declare an AMBER Alert is made by NAPTIP when investigating a suspected abduction case, they must first determine if the case meets their Amber Alert criteria, which include:

  • The abduction is of a child age 17 or younger
  • NAPTIP must have a reasonable belief that there has been an abduction.
  • NAPTIP believes the victim is in imminent danger of serious bodily harm or exploitation.
  • There is enough descriptive information about the victim and suspected abduction for law enforcement to issue an AMBER Alert to assist in recovering the child

Once these criteria have been met, NAPTIP will then notify Meta’s Global Security Operations Centre, which operates 24/7, that a verified AMBER Alert is active. Meta will then send the alert to the News Feeds of people located in targeted search areas in Nigeria.

“Already available across 28 countries globally, we are proud to partner with NAPTIP to make AMBER Alert available in Nigeria – the second African country to join this programme.

“When there is a reported case of a missing child, the most valuable thing one can do is share information as quickly as possible. By working with law enforcement in helping to share the right information with the right people, we hope that missing children will be safely reunited with their families faster,” Meta’s Director of Trust and Safety, Emily Vacher.

In emphasising the importance of this launch, Adaora Ikenze, Meta’s Head of Public Policy, Anglophone West Africa, said: “This partnership with NAPTIP is another important milestone in reinforcing our ongoing commitment to Nigeria. We know our apps can be used as a force for good, and the AMBER Alert launch across Instagram and Facebook highlights this.”

The Director General of NAPTIP, Dr Fatima Waziri-Azi, also said, “Today, we are partnering with Meta to launch the AMBER Alert Programme on Facebook and Instagram to help ensure faster response in finding missing children.

“With these alerts, more people can be on the lookout for kids reported missing in their vicinity and report all leads to relevant authorities. NAPTIP cherishes every aspect of the intending collaboration and we are indeed glad to be on board with Meta”.

AMBER Alert Programme launched on Facebook in 2015 and since then has assisted in hundreds of successful child endangerment cases in the US and around the world.

One of such cases happened in 2020 when Amanda Disley and her husband helped rescue 11-year-old Charlotte Moccia of Springfield, Massachusetts, after seeing an AMBER Alert on Facebook. Before that, a four-year-old girl was recovered after Kaytlin Brown saw an AMBER Alert issued on Facebook on her lunch break and quickly took action.

In June 2022, Meta added Instagram to the AMBER Alerts Programme across the world by making it available in 28 additional countries, and now, in Nigeria. As part of the launch of AMBER Alerts in Nigeria, Meta and NAPTIP will be educating users in Nigeria on how to identify AMBER Alerts on their feeds and what to do when they see an alert.

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