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Nigeria @58: Sweet Dream or Nightmare?

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By James Eze (eziokwubundu@gmail.com)
You cannot live in Nigeria and not think about who we have become in recent years. You may try to shut it out of your mind but you may not always stop wondering if there is a sufficient reason for hope; to step out at dawn and watch the sun rise on the faces of your loved ones. And I want to ask you this; at 58, what feelings does Nigeria stir in you?
Well, I don’t know if I am the only one that feels this way, but there are moments I feel like a deer, finally hounded to a corner; a plant in a room with no air. Those are moments when I mull over my relationship with Nigeria; and I gently ask her with the voice of a heartbroken lover, “have you been fair to me?” At such moments, I am often of two minds, like a victim of an abusive relationship – I feel a strong desire to leave her but an utter lack of will power to get up and go.
Don’t get me wrong. It is not for want of courage that I am still here. It is the dilemma of someone who must choose between hope and despair. It is how you feel after years and years of broken promises. Each new promise raises the threshold of hope but each disappointment breeds a season of despair. Years when young and fearless, it seemed as though you could jump up and touch the sky. But also years that time has now turned into a blur in the haze of memory. And there are no mementos, no trophies and no reminders that you ever lived through those years. And who do you blame for this but Nigeria?
Who do you blame when children in your neighbourhood scream “Up NEPA,” after a long power cut and you suddenly remember that your tiny boyish voice once rang out the loudest forty years ago when the power holding company restored electricity to thousands of homes denied nourishing sleep by heat and a swarm of hungry mosquitoes? Who do you blame when cows assume a value higher than human life and all we can do is shout from the temporary safety of our homes? Who do you blame when over 180 million people consistently bring back former military rulers to run their affairs and our best and brightest actually parted the way for one of them to mount the saddle of leadership? Who do you blame when a country that produced its first professor of medicine 53 years ago has neither the expertise nor the equipment to attend to the medical needs of its citizens? Who do you blame in a country where injustice to one is never seen as injustice to all? Do you blame the leader or the led? Is the leader an alien or just one of us; a brother or sister, a former classmate, a fellow tribesman/woman, a home-boy/girl? If the leader is one of us, why can’t he touch our wounds and feel our pain? Why is he far removed from the very air we breathe? And are we innocent or complicit in his sudden transmogrification?
At 58, it is insincere to continue to absolve ourselves of blame for what Nigeria has become. And by the way, it is time to stop pointing fingers outwards. We cannot point fingers when we wilfully accept what more serious societies revolt against? We have watched with hands akimbo as farmers turned to manure in their own farmlands. And we shamefully nodded our acceptance when we were advised that it was wiser to let go of our ancestral lands than die holding onto them. We watched genocide sweep through the rainforest and looked away when malnourished children died with distended bellies over a war they had no hand in. We pretended that it didn’t matter when the goose that lay our collective golden egg became a wasteland for decades while fishes died in rivers poisoned by oil exploration. In fact, we laughed at them and called them ‘lazy.’ And when our fellow citizens complained of marginalization and pointed at decrepit federal roads in their domain, we called them cry-babies and mocked them with comments like; “you people are your own worst enemies.” And I just wonder how, by the way.
And when we mock the wounds of our neighbours, when we deny the humanity of one another and strip our neighbour the right to indignation and justifiable outrage, we trade places with Nigeria and hand her the moral right to ask us; “have you been fair to me?”
Indeed, Nigeria never quite leaves you without questions, without wonder, without discontent. You may never stop wondering if this is all you can be as an individual. Sometimes the bleakness is so perverse that there seems to be nothing at all to give you pride as a Nigerian. No shooting stars to kindle hope with brilliant sparkles across the skies. No exceptions to celebrate; no genius to applaud and no singular act of heroism that could pass for a national banner of excellence. Innoson’s recent ordeal with the EFCC and Guaranty Trust Bank puts a dampener on what had looked like a rare flicker of hope and finally confirms the fear that Nigeria is a place where flowers wilt before sunrise. And you can’t help but hope that Anambra’s Golden Girls who won the World Technovation Challenge in San Francisco will get a chance to live another day.
Now, should I wish Nigeria a Happy Birthday or just watch her in silence?

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Special Report/Investigation

We didn’t raid Onnoghen’s residence — EFCC

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has described as “untrue and evil”, reports in some quarters that its personnel invaded the Abuja residence of Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen.
Spokesman of the commission Tony Orilade told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Tuesday that the fake news “ is being spread by evil men and women to get evil results.”
NAN reports that this may be connected to the halting of Onnoghen’s trial by the Federal High Court Abuja on Monday.
The court had asked the Federal Government to put on hold plans to arraign Onnoghen before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).
The Federal Government had, through the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), filed six counts of non-declaration of assets charges against Onnoghen.
However, ruling on two separate ex parte applications, Justice N.E Maha, ordered parties to maintain status quo until Jan. 17.

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News

Onnonghen’s Trial

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The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnonghen will appear before the code of conduct tribunal on Monday to defend allegations of none-declaration of some assets and operating foreign accounts as a public officer.

A petition against the CJN has already being accepted by the tribunal and hearing is slated for Monday.

The hearing notice from the code of conduct tribunal contains six charges against the CJN, most of which border on non-declaration of assets.

The notice was signed by Musa Ibrahim Usman and Fatima Danjuma Alli.

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News

IGP reverses self, recalls Imo CP

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The Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, on Friday caved in to pressure from governorship candidates in Imo State and recalled the redeployed Commissioner of Police, Dasuki Galadanchi.
This was two days after the State Commissioner of Police and all the senior Police officers in the state were transferred out of the State in an unprecedented shakeup in the Command.
Governorship candidates of political parties in the state had described the mass transfer as a ploy to manipulate the election in favour of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Also recalled were three Deputy Commissioners of Police and eleven Assistant Commissioners of Police redeployed to various states by the IGP.

The IGP had on Wednesday transferred the Imo State CP, Galadanchi to Bauchi state and posted the current commissioner of Police in charge of the Kogi state Command, Ali Janga to the state.
But 48 hours after the IGP cancelled the controversial transfer.
It was gathered that a signal came on Friday morning stating that all the transferred police officers should return to their former offices with immediate effect.
When our correspondent visited the Police Command headquarters in Owerri, Police officers were in a happy mood as they discussed the development.

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News

Breaking: Dino Melaye surrenders to police

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Eight days after being held up in his house, Senator Dino Melaye, on Friday finally surrendered to the police.
He left his house with some lawmakers from the National Assembly who paid him a solidarity visit.
They went to the police in company of Melaye’s lawyer, Mr. Mike Ozekhome.
Melaye had been invited by the police to answer allegation of attempted murder.
He is alleged to have been with his thugs who shot and and injured a police officer on the 19th July 2018.
Police spokesman Jimoh Moshood said that the police officer was yet to recover from the gunshot injury he sustained during the attack and was under intensive medical care.
An Abuja high court had on Thursday refused to grant Dino Melaye’s application to order the removal of police blockade on his residence.
The Nigerian Police Force had said its men sent to arrest Senator Dino Melaye in his residence in Abuja will not retreat until the senator surrenders himself for arrest and investigation.
According to Moshood, the officers have a duly obtained Warrant of Arrest to pick the senator, representing Kogi West.
“Senator Dino Melaye is wanted by the Police for a case of Criminal Conspiracy and Attempted Culpable Homicide, committed on 19th July, 2018, when Senator Dino Melaye and his armed thugs attacked Police personnel; shot and wounded Sgt. Danjuma Saliu, attached to 37 Police Mobile Force (PMF) on stop and search duty along Aiyetoro Gbede, Mopa Road in Kogi State”, Moshood said.
“It is on record that the Police investigators submitted a Letter of Invitation dated 23rd July, 2018, signed by the Commissioner of Police, Kogi State Police Command addressed to the Clerk, National Assembly, Abuja, inviting Senator Dino Melaye to report on 26th July, 2018 at 1100Hrs at the Kogi State Police Command, CIID, Lokoja to answer to a case of Criminal Conspiracy and Attempted Culpable Homicide against him under investigation in the Kogi State Police Command.
“The claim by the Senate President in the Media that the Police did not submit a letter of invitation to the Clerk of the National Assembly is therefore incorrect as can be seen on attached letter with acknowledgment stamp of the Clerk, National Assembly, Abuja “24 JUL 2018“. Despite this, Senator Dino Melaye bluntly refused to report himself to the Police till date.
For avoidance of doubt, attached to this Press Release are the copies of pictures of the shot Police Officer, Sgt. Danjuma Saliu, the Police Invitation Letter addressed to the Clerk of National Assembly, Abuja and the Medical Report from the Federal Medical Centre, Lokoja, Kogi State, confirming the admission of Sgt. Danjuma Saliu into the Hospital for treatment of the gunshot injury he sustained from the attack by Senator Dino Melaye and his armed thugs while on Stop and Search duty along Aiyetoro Gbede, Mopa Road in Kogi State on 19th July, 2018.

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President Buhari commiserates with NAF, families of crash victims

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President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed heartfelt condolences to the Nigerian Air Force, and relations of five people who lost their lives in a military helicopter crash January 2 in Damasak, Borno State.
The President mourns Flight Lieutenant Perowei Jacob (Pilot in Command), Flight Lieutenant Kaltho Paul Kilyofas (Co-Pilot), Sergeant Auwal Ibrahim (Flight Technician), Lance Corporal Adamu Nura (Gunner), and Aircraftman Meshack Ishmael (Gunner), who died in the mishap.
Commiserating with the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, President Buhari said it was sad that the fine officers and men lost their lives in the bid to guarantee the safety and protection of their countrymen.
He said rather than dampen the morale of troops fighting insurgency in the North-East, the unfortunate development would rather bolster their resolve to completely eliminate all evildoers within the shortest possible time.
To the families and relations of the dead, President Buhari condoles with them, noting that the dead officers and men were heroes, who paid the supreme price for peace to reign in the country.

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News

Air Force Confirms Helicopter Crash, Names Victims

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The Air Force Helicopter That Crashed On Wednesday Night In Damasak Had Five Crew Members On Board.

The Mi-35m Helicopter Crashed While Providing Close Air Support To Troops Of 145 Battalion, Damasak In Borno State.
The Names Of The Deceased Personnel, Whose Remains Have Been Recovered To Maiduguri, Are:

A. Flight Lieutenant Perowei Jacob – Pilot In Command.
B. Flight Lieutenant Kaltho Paul Kilyofas – Co-Pilot.
C. Sergeant Auwal Ibrahim – Flight Technician.
D. Lance Corporal Adamu Nura – Gunner.
E. Aircraftman Meshack Ishmael – Gunner.
The Chief Of The Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, Was In Maiduguri To Commiserate With The Colleagues And Families Of The 5 Fallen Heroes.
He Also Conveyed The Condolences Of The Commander-In-Chief Of The Armed Forces Of Nigeria, President Muhammed Buhari, To Personnel Of The Air Task Force Operation Lafiya Dole Over The Unfortunate Loss.

While In Maiduguri, The Air Chief Also Received A Condolence Visit From The Chief Of Army, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai.
The Air Force Says It Appreciates The Overwhelming Support Shown By The General Public To The Service Over The Sad Incident, And continues to solicit their understanding in the on-going war against terror.

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Special Report/Investigation

Imo CP Galadanchi Transferred, Ali Janga Takes Over

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The Imo state commissioner of police Dasuki Galadanchi has been transferred to Bauchi state ahead of the 2019 general elections.

The CP was removed alongside their deputy commissioners of police and 11 assistant commissioners of police in the command.
The police public relations officer in the state Orlando Ikeokwu says the command is expecting CP Ali Janga from Kogi state to take over from the outgoing CP in the state.
ikeokwu maintained that the transfer is not out of place or has any political undertones as rumoured. He said it is a routine activity in the Nigerian police force especially as elections draw closer. He urged all Imo citizens to continue with their lawful duties and avoid any action that might cause a breach of the peace in the state.

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Fiona Onasanya found guilty in speeding case

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FIONA ONASANYA has been found guilty of perverting the course of justice by lying to police about who was behind the wheel of a speeding car.
The former Labour whip was convicted in an Old Bailey retrial on Wednesday (Dec 19).
Onasanya, a Peterborough MP, denied she was driving her car when it was caught doing 41mph in a 30mph zone in Thorney, Cambridgeshire, in July 2017.
Her brother Festus Onasanya, 33, previously pleaded guilty to three counts of the same charge.
The siblings will be sentenced on a date which has yet to be determined, and Labour has suspended Onasanya, stating that she should resign.
The Labour spokesperson said: “The Labour Party is deeply disappointed in Fiona Onasanya behaviour. It falls well below what is expected of politicians. She should resign.”
“Fiona Onasanya is being administratively suspended from the Labour Party and therefore the whip with immediate effect.
According to The Mirror, if Onasanya does stand down as an MP, it will trigger a by election in the uber marginal seat of Peterborough which Labour won by just 607 votes last year.
RISING STAR
Onasanya was elected into her post as a Labour MP for Peterborough in June 2017. She was responsible for maximising the number of MPs who vote on parliamentary business and do so inline with the party’s stance. As an active member in the political arena, she previously lobbied for a university, looked at avenues to combat fly-tipping and methods to ensure funding for the local NHS.
In an interview with the Peterborough Telegraph in 2017, Onasanya expressed her desire to become the UK’s first black female prime minister.
She said: “I would like one day in the future to become the first black, female prime minister of this country.”

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President Buhari orders arrest of Badeh’s killers

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President Muhammadu Buhari has directed security agencies in Nigeria to find the killers of the 15th Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh (Rtd) and bring them to face the full force of the law, while ensuring greater security and safety for all users of the country’s roads.
He described the killing of the former Chief of Defence Staff, as “very sad and unfortunate.”
The President commiserates with the family of the late four-star General, his friends and professional colleagues in the military, and the people and government of Adamawa State.
Noting that the late Badeh, who was also a former Chief of Air Staff, attained professional fulfilment in his over three decades military career, President Buhari regrets that he fell victim to incidence of violent and fatal attacks on the nation’s highways.
The President prays that God Almighty comforts all those who mourn Air Chief Marshal Badeh and grant his soul peaceful rest.

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Nigerian professor in sex for grades scandal gets prison term

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Nigerian professor Richard Akindele, accused of demanding sex from a female student, was sentenced to prison on Monday.
Akindele was convicted after pleading guilty to four criminal charges, including demanding gratification from a student and sexual coercion of a student.
Akindele had pleaded not guilty to the charges in earlier court appearances at the Federal High Court in Osogbo, southwest Nigeria. However, he changed his plea during his third appearance in court on Monday.

Akindele was sentenced to two years in prison for demanding sexual benefits from student Monica Osagie, two years for soliciting sexual benefits to improve her marks, one year for falsifying his age, and one year for altering evidence. The judge said his sentences would run concurrently, so he will serve two years.

Osagie, 23, was not in court on Monday but her lawyers  consented to a plea bargain made by Akindele, a requirement under Nigerian law.
The case against Akindele gained momentum after Osagie’s exclusive interview with CNN.
Osagie said she secretly taped a phone conversation with Akindele to gather evidence against him.

Akindele was fired by Obafemi Awolowo University for sexual misconduct one month after the interview and the Nigerian Senate launched an investigation into the issue of sexual harassment in universities.
Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency, ICPC, also started criminal proceedings, which led to his conviction Monday.
Akindele’s lawyers negotiated a plea bargain with federal prosecutors and they deliberated for four hours before Justice Maureen Onyekenu reached a judgment on Monday. The judge rejected the terms of the plea bargain, including a suspended sentence, community service and an option of a fine.
The professor needed to be “taught a lesson” to serve as a deterrent to those who abuse their authority, Onyekenu told the courtroom.

She said accepting the bargain would have downplayed the trauma victims of sexual harassment face in universities.
“I know the mental torture many of our female students have been subjected to by the likes of the respondent.
“The adverse effect of such action is huge. Many of his like have been awarding marks to those students that are ready to warm their beds, thereby releasing half-baked graduates into the society,” Onyetenu said.

A lawyer for Akindele did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Akindele’s sentence was hailed by women’s rights campaigners and prosecutors pursuing the case.

“The ripple of the outcome of this case will be felt positively for years to come,” ICPC spokeswoman Rasheeda Okoduwa said.
“It’s a clear message to all those who harass students to stop it. If they don’t, we will come after them with the law. This brings some measure of relief to students in the system if this harassment occurs,” she said.

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