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SERAP gives Buhari and Others Seven Days to Publish their Assets

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President Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), Vice-President Professor Yemi Osinbajo, 36 state governors and their deputies have been given a seven-day ultimatum by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, urging them to “provide information on summary of the assets, specifically property and income” contained in their asset declaration forms submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau since their assumption of office.

In the FoI requests dated 3 January 2020 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: “The Constitution of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), the FoI Act, and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which is part of our laws, read together, impose transparency obligations on all public officials to publicly disclose information concerning their asset declarations submitted to the CCB, and to clarify any updated review of such assets.”

The statement read, “The summary of assets to be disclosed include, where applicable, the following: savings and other liquid assets, all immovable property and shares and actions in any private and public companies; property purchased by way of tender from any public-law entities and information about businesses owned.”

SERAP wants them to “clarify within seven days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter if you have had any reason to review and update the asset declarations submitted to the CCB, and to provide the summary of any such review; failing which we will take all appropriate legal action to compel you to comply with our request.”

SERAP also said, “The non-public disclosure by public officials of their summary of assets seriously undermines the effectiveness and integrity of the constitutional and statutory obligations to submit asset declarations, especially given that declarations are designed to curb grand corruption. The non-disclosure of assets also undermines the authority of the CCB and weakens the public trust in the asset declaration regimes.”

It explained, “Our FoI request does not clash with the rights to privacy and data protection. Both rights are not absolute and can be restricted provided there is a basis in law and a legitimate public interest justifies the restriction. Prevention of grand corruption and exposing the unexplained wealth of officials are serious and legitimate public interests.”

“We would also like you to clarify if you have encouraged members of your cabinet also to submit their asset declarations to the CCB and to make such declarations public. If so, we would like you to provide information on the details of those that have made submissions.

“We would also like you to clarify whether a declaration has been submitted as constitutionally and statutorily required, the date of any such submission and if you have received any confirmation of the verification of your asset declaration by the CCB.

“The general public has a legitimate interest in ascertaining and scrutinising the veracity, exactitude and honesty of information contained in asset declarations submitted by public officials to the CCB. Without public disclosure of a summary of assets, this would have no practical importance.”

“Public disclosure of a summary of assets submitted to the CCB would help uncover any irregularities and trigger formal verification of declarations by the CCB and other anti-corruption agencies.

“The information requested is the summary of assets submitted to the CCB according to constitutional and statutory provisions. Providing the data will meet the legal objective of giving the public a reasonable picture of your detailed asset declaration lodged with the CCB as well as serve the purpose of providing a safeguard against abuse of the asset declaration process.

“This would in turn serve as an incentive to public officials to provide exact information when filing and submitting their asset declarations.

“The advantages that the general public would gain from being informed about the summary of assets declaration submitted to the CCB outweigh any inconvenience that may occur if the information is disclosed, according to our FoI request.

“We believe that the Nigerian Constitution, the FoI Act and the African Charter grant the right to obtain information on the summary of assets of all public officials occupying a position of trust and discharging public functions.

“Any perceived claim of interference with the right to privacy is sufficiently foreseeable for the legal requirements for asset declarations by public officials, given that public-disclosure of summary of assets would undoubtedly contribute to the legitimate aim of asset declaration regimes to prevent corruption, as it would ensure transparency regarding the details of those assets,” the organisation stated.

It added, “It is like the democratic political process that Nigerians may legitimately be interested in the conduct of public officials. The issue of the asset declarations of persons holding public offices is one of legitimate public interest and concern, and serves the purpose of ensuring transparency in the exercise of public functions.”

“By Section 1 (1) of the FoI Act, SERAP is entitled as of right to request for or gain access to information, including information on the summary of the asset declaration submitted to the CCB.

“By Section 4 (a) of the FoI Act when a person requests information from a public official, institution or agency, the public official, institution or urgency to whom the application is directed is under a binding legal obligation to provide the applicant with the information requested for, except as otherwise provided by the Act, within seven days after the application is received,” it explained.

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Inside Nigeria

The Nigeria-Biafra war: Remembering the fearless heroes- photo-Gallery/video by Agu

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The Nigerian-Biafra-war

It was probably 15 years after the Nigerian -Biafran civil war ended that my thought process comprehended the full tragic impact it had on my family. The first time I saw four of my nephews, I wondered why they could not speak my dialect. Also, they had a last name that does not sound anything close to the language that I speak. I became inquisitive and began asking questions. My mother told me how the Nigerian soldiers took over my town and started kidnapping girls from my village. My senior sisters hidden inside the house Chimney were not spared after the soldier’s informant gave them away.
My father could not do anything to stop them. He came close to being killed by the same soldiers. He watched in utter shock how his girls got taken away. After that incident, my father left the village and never came back alive. It hurts to this day that i never get to know my father due to Nigerian-Biafran civil war. Anyway, this part of my story is reserved for another day.
Also, my nephews of Yoruba extract never had a father-son-relationship with their Yoruba fathers. Their lives were equally shattered. The entire Eastern- Nigeria is still a conquered place. Daily, you will think the war is not over.
Today, as we remember those who died during the Nigeria-Biafra civil war, let me leave you with this memory. I would also implore you to read this article ‘Buried for 50 years: Britain’s shameful role in the Biafran war”.
See the shocking footages and photo gallery,

Buried for 50 years: Britain’s shameful role in the Biafran war

A million children starved to death. I’m haunted by the images I saw there – and by the complicity of the Wilson government

t is a good thing to be proud of one’s country, and I am – most of the time. But it would be impossible to scan the centuries of Britain’s history without coming across a few incidents that evoke not pride but shame. Among those I would list are the creation by British officialdom in South Africa of the concentration camp, to persecute the families of Boers. Add to that the Amritsar massacre of 1919 and the Hola camps set up and run during the struggle against Mau Mau.

The northern and western regions were swept by a pogrom in which thousands of Igbo were slaughtered

But there is one truly disgusting policy practised by our officialdom during the lifetime of anyone over 50, and one word will suffice: Biafra.

This referred to the civil war in Nigeria that ended 50 years ago this month. It stemmed from the decision of the people of the eastern region of that already riot-racked country to strike for independence as the Republic of Biafra. As I learned when I got there as a BBC correspondent, the Biafrans, mostly of the Igbo people, had their reasons.

The federal government in Lagos was a brutal military dictatorship that came to power in 1966 in a bloodbath. During and following that coup, the northern and western regions were swept by a pogrom in which thousands of resident Igbo were slaughtered. The federal government lifted not a finger to help. It was led by an affable British-educated colonel, Yakubu Gowon. But he was a puppet. The true rulers were a group of northern Nigerian colonels. The crisis deepened, and in early 1967 eastern Nigeria, harbouring about 1.8 million refugees, sought restitution. A British-organised conference was held in Ghana and a concordat agreed. But Gowon, returning home, was flatly contradicted by the colonels, who tore up his terms and reneged on the lot. In April the Eastern Region formally seceded and on 7 July, the federal government declared war.

Biafra was led by the Eastern Region’s Oxford-educated former military governor, “Emeka” Ojukwu. London, ignoring all evidence that it was Lagos that reneged on the deal, denounced the secession, made no attempt to mediate and declared total support for Nigeria.

I arrived in the Biafra capital of Enugu on the third day of the war. In London I had been copiously briefed by Gerald Watrous, head of the BBC’s West Africa Service. What I did not know was that he was the obedient servant of the government’s Commonwealth Relations Office (CRO), which believed every word of its high commissioner in Lagos, David Hunt. It took two days in Enugu to realise that everything I had been told was utter garbage.

I had been briefed that the brilliant Nigerian army would suppress the rebellion in two weeks, four at the most. Fortunately the deputy high commissioner in Enugu, Jim Parker, told me what was really happening. It became clear that the rubbish believed by the CRO and the BBC stemmed from our high commissioner in Lagos. A racist and a snob, Hunt expected Africans to leap to attention when he entered the room – which Gowon did. At their single prewar meeting Ojukwu did not. Hunt loathed him at once.

My brief was to report the all-conquering march of the Nigerian army. It did not happen. Naively, I filed this. When my report was broadcast our high commissioner complained to the CRO in London, who passed it on to the BBC – which accused me of pro-rebel bias and recalled me to London. Six months later, in February 1968, fed up with the slavishness of the BBC to Whitehall, I walked out and flew back to west Africa. Ojukwu roared with laughter and allowed me to stay. My condition was that, having rejected British propaganda, I would not publish his either. He agreed.

But things had changed. British covert interference had become huge. Weapons and ammunition poured in quietly as Whitehall and the Harold Wilson government lied and denied it all. Much enlarged, with fresh weapons and secret advisory teams, the Nigerian army inched across Biafra as the defenders tried to fight back with a few bullets a day. Soviet Ilyushin bombers ranged overhead, dropping 1,000lb bombs on straw villages. But the transformation came in July.

Missionaries had noticed mothers emerging from the deep bush carrying children reduced to living skeletons yet with bloated bellies. Catholic priests recognised the symptoms – kwashiorkor or acute protein deficiency.

That same July the Daily Express cameraman David Cairns ran off a score of rolls of film and took them to London. Back then, the British public had never seen such heartrending images of starved and dying children. When the pictures hit the newsstands the story exploded. There were headlines, questions in the House of Commons, demonstrations, marches.

As the resident guide for foreign news teams I became somewhat overwhelmed. But at last the full secret involvement of the British government started to be exposed and the lies revealed. Wilson came under attack. The story swept Europe then the US.

Donations flooded in. The money could buy food – but how to get it there? Around year’s end the extraordinary Joint Church Aid was born.

The World Council of Churches helped to buy some clapped-out freighter aircraft and gained permission from Portugal to use the offshore island São Tomé as a base. Scandinavian pilots and crew, mostly airline pilots, offered to fly without pay. Joint Church Aid was quickly nicknamed Jesus Christ Airlines. And thus came into being the world’s only illegal mercy air bridge.

On a visit to London in spring 1969 I learned the efforts the British establishment will take to cover up its tracks. Every reporter, peer or parliamentarian who had visited Biafra and reported on what he had seen was smeared as a stooge of Biafra – even the utterly honourable John Hunt, leader of the Everest expedition.

Throughout 1969 the relief planes flew through the night, dodging Nigerian MiG fighters, to deliver their life-giving cargoes of reinforced milk powder to a jungle airstrip. From there trucks took the sacks to the missions, the nuns boiled up the nutriments and kept thousands of children alive.

Karl Jaggi, head of the Red Cross, estimated that up to a million children died, but that at least half a million were saved. As for me, sometimes in the wee small hours I see the stick-like children with the dull eyes and lolling heads, and hear their wails of hunger and the low moans as they died.

What is truly shameful is that this was not done by savages but aided and assisted at every stage by Oxbridge-educated British mandarins. Why? Did they love the corruption-riven, dictator-prone Nigeria? No. From start to finish, it was to cover up that the UK’s assessment of the Nigerian situation was an enormous judgmental screw-up. And, worse: with neutrality and diplomacy from London it could all have been avoided.

Biafra is little discussed in the UK these days – a conflict overshadowed geopolitically by the Vietnam war, which raged at the same time. Yet the sheer nastiness of the British establishment during those three years remains a source of deep shame that we should never forget.

Frederick Forsyth is a former war correspondent and an author

Guardian Service

Execution of Mathias Kanu, A Biafran by Nigeria Army
Execution of Mathias Kanu, A Biafran by Nigeria Army.mp4
Nigeria-Biafra War | Road to Umuahia | British TV Reporter Peter Sissons Shot & injured | Oct. 1968.mp4

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Inside Nigeria

FG Directs NAFDAC to Evaluate Local COVID-19 Cures

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On Thursday, the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 Chairman, Mustapha,  said the PTF would continue to support efforts to invent a local cure for coronavirus,  adding that the ministry of health had started evaluating some claims.

He stated, “For some time now, there have been claims of inventions and cures related to COVID-19. The PTF, as part of its mandate, remains supportive of and receptive to outcomes of the research. It, however, finds it imperative to reiterate its position on the need for such discoveries to undergo the scientific validation processes.

“The PTF is aware that the Complementary and Alternative Medicine Department of the Federal Ministry of Health has been evaluating such claims and forwarded some that have met the preliminary requirements to the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control to carry out the necessary procedures for listing.”

Also, the ministry of health in its letter to the NAFDAC DG noted there was no definite treatment or vaccine for COVID-19.

It stated, “This has necessitated countries to look for solutions from within, and Nigeria is no exception. It is worthy to note that Nigeria is blessed with medicinal plants which could be exploited.

“It is heartwarming to note that the Department of the  TCAM has taken the pains to research into scientific materials to come up with a formulation intended for the management of cough in COVID-19 and other cough-related infections.”

According to the ministry, the formulation is a Cov-herbal cough mixture.

It said, “Interestingly, all the ingredients that make up the formulations are medicinal plants that are widely used as food materials and medicines.

“They include Allium Sativa (garlic); Allium cepa (onions); Zingiber officinale (ginger): Piper guineense (West African Black Pepper); and Adansonia digitata (baobab fruit). The innovation here is the composition of the formulation.

“These medicinal plants have documented scientific evidence of long use for the management of cough and other respiratory infections, with medicinal properties of mucoiytic, antitussive, expectorant, soothing, demulcent, anti-inflammatory and antiviral effects.”

The ministry stated that it was determined to “walk the talk” in the promotion and integration of herbal medicine into the health care delivery system.

“In view of the foregoing and the desire of the ministry to showcase to the public a product that is 100 per cent sourced locally, you are requested to carry out the necessary procedures for listing.”

On Thursday, NAFDAC Director of Public Affairs, Dr Abubakar Jimoh,  explained herbal drugs were listed after it had been confirmed that they were not toxic.

He, however, said that such listed drugs were not usually given full registration.

In a  related development, the leadership of NAFDAC  met with 35 players in the herbal and alternative medicine sector as part of efforts to find a treatment to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The virtual meeting, which was convened by the Director-General of NAFDAC,  had in attendance over 35  players in the herbal medicine sector including two professors of Pharmacognosis,  Maurice Iwu and Anthony Elujoba, who was once an acting Vice-Chancellor of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife.

Some others at the meeting were Prof. Martins Emeje of the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development; the Managing Director, Neimeth International Pharmaceuticals Plc, Matthew Azoji; and Prof. McDonald Edu of the Department of Plant Biology and Biotechnology, University of Benin.

Others are Executive Director, Yemkem International Group, Mr Akinyemi Ayeni; and Dr. Oluwatobi Abiola, Managing Director of Ablat Nigeria Limited, manufacturers of Yoyo Bitters.

The meeting also had in attendance representatives of the Ministry of Trade and Investment as well as the Department of Traditional and Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the Ministry of Health.

The meeting was the third edition of the Nigerian Herbal Medicine Product Committee symposium which seeks to explore herbal solutions to health challenges in the country

However, the NAFDAC DG said only one firm had so far approached the agency for approval, and it was for the treatment of the symptoms of COVID-19, not the virus itself.

Adeyeye said all claims must go through necessary testing before clinical trials can commence.

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Inside Nigeria

Kogi is under pressure to announce false COVID-19 case — Dr. Saka Haruna

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On Thursday, the Kogi State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Saka Haruna, claimed in a statement that the state is under pressure to declare that it has COVID-19 cases where there is none.

He, however, said the state would not succumb to the pressure.

The statement followed a report, which claimed that four persons suspected to be COVID-19 patients had died at the Federal Medical Centre, Lokoja in the last one week.

He said that as the state commissioner for health, a member of the Governing Board of the FMC Lokoja, and also the incident manager for COVID-19 in the state, he had yet to be informed of any claimed cases.

“There is also a representative of the FMC Lokoja in the state’s squadron against COVID-19 /Lassa fever and never for once was any such case raised in our meetings.

The commissioner alleged that the aim of those putting pressure on the state was to politicise the situation as they are not happy that the current administration has been scored high by local and international observers on health care.

He added, “First and foremost, it is imperative that the public realise that there is no state government that can deliberately put her people in harm’s way for whatever political reason and the current administration has been scored high by local and international observers on health. We have and will continue to put the health of our people as first priority.

“We have been in an annual fight against Lassa fever as the state is located in the Lassa fever belt, recording several cases with regrettable losses. We were first to establish a Biosafety Laboratory for Lassa fever in Nigeria, and this year alone, we have confirmed 30 cases of Lassa fever that was duly announced. To accuse the state of a cover-up of COVID-19 cases is mischievous and at best politically inclined.”

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Inside Nigeria

Banditry is more Pressing than COVID-19 in Katsina – Masari

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On Wednesday via Twitter, the Katsina State Governor, Aminu Masari, disclosed how pressing an issue armed banditry in the state is over COVID-19.

He said over 50 persons had been killed by gunmen in the last two weeks.

Masari said, “We sincerely appreciate the efforts of the security agencies in the fight against banditry, but we must also state that the situation has become so overwhelming. We are running out of words to convince our people that we are on top of the problem.

“They are, by the days, losing confidence in us as their leaders, saddled with the responsibility of securing their lives and properties.

“I am so saddened with the situation we are in now, because to most of our people in the troubled areas, COVID-19 is not even an issue. It may have taken over the world and the news about it but not here.

“Attacks by armed bandits have become a daily affair. In about two weeks, we have lost more than 50 people.

“At our end and within the resources available, we have provided support to the security agencies. We even brokered peace through an Amnesty and reconciliatory drive. Some of the bandits repented and joined us in the fight. They were, however, overpowered by the unrepentant ones who are more sophisticated.”

The governor urged the leadership of security agencies in the country to up their ante in combatting the activities of gunmen in the state.

According to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control as of Wednesday night, the state has recorded 95 coronavirus infections with eight recoveries and eight deaths.

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