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Politics / Mud Smeared, Dust Covered: An Abuja Community’s Daily Commute Struggle by Shehuyinka: 10:08am On May 14
S Nigeria’s capital, one would not expect people living in Abuja to be in want of basic amenities like good roads, portable water, stable electricity and other essential services, but this is the case for residents of Ibwa community, a suburb in Gwagwalada Area Council, where the state of the road is a constant nightmare. Residents are either smeared by mud or covered by dust, Adedokun Theophilus reports.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFqfoBNU5bg

Things almost fell apart for Idris Adam, a dark-skinned commercial farmer and a resident of Ibwa, in December 2022 when his wife developed a complication which required urgent specialist attention during the birth of their first child.

In excruciating pain after birth, the medical staff did not hesitate to transfer Zainab, Adam’s wife, to another health facility which could get the required medical attention.

Sadly, there was another hurdle for the unconscious mother and new father to cross – the 15km road the links to the next community, This road, known as Ibwa Road, which connects the predominantly farming community to other parts of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) is barely motorable.

It’s a hurdle to ply that road during rainy or dry seasons, much less with a woman in need of medical attention in tow.

Recounting his experience during the birth of his child Adam, who is in his mid-thirties, described it as “terrible”.

“She had given birth successfully” he told The ICIR “but there was a complication because she had lost a lot of blood and needed urgent attention. Unfortunately, she could not access emergency medical service because of the delay we experienced on the road”.

“The road was bad, she was bleeding and unconscious at the same time. I could not bear seeing her suffer as we journeyed through the road but there was nothing I could do”, he recalls.

“She had given birth successfully” he told The ICIR “but there was a complication because she had lost a lot of blood and needed urgent attention. Unfortunately, she could not access emergency medical service because of the delay we experienced on the road”.

“The road was bad, she was bleeding and unconscious at the same time. I could not bear seeing her suffer as we journeyed through the road but there was nothing I could do”, he recalls.

After a laborious day, exhausted Bawala was in a hurry to get home and relax from work.

Noticing the cloudy sky and impending rain, he rode his motorcycle as fast as he could to beat the rain.

Unfortunately, he lost control of his bike and galloped into a ditch.

“I fainted when I lost balance, and I could not recall anything.”

Visible lines appearing as wrinkles sustained from the accident were still on his face when he spoke with The ICIR. He had a bone fracture on his right hand which made him bedridden for a while.

“I could not work for a month because the bone on my right hand broke,” he said.

He stressed that he now depends on menial work and members of his family to make ends meet.

READ MORE HERE: https://www.icirnigeria.org/mud-smeared-dust-covered-an-abuja-communitys-daily-commute-struggle/

Politics / Inside Story Of Kano’s Tudun Wada Electoral Violence In Doguwa’s Constituency by Shehuyinka: 12:07pm On Apr 21
Bloodshed and death: Inside story of Kano’s Tudun Wada electoral violence in Doguwa’s constituency

FEBRUARY 25, 2023, the date for the presidential and national assembly election was one which the residents of Tudun Wada Local Government Area (LGA) in Kano state anticipated as it was a time for them to exercise their franchise through the ballot, but little did they know that it would become the eve of a horror scene the community will not forget anytime soon.

On Sunday, February 26 while the collation of results was ongoing, mayhem struck Tudun Wada when thugs attacked. The office of the New Nigerian People’s Party (NNPP) located in Sabon Gari Ward was set ablaze, and scores were burnt to death. Some residents were shot dead, while some luckily escaped.

Many of the residents, survivors and eyewitnesses interviewed by The ICIR pointed accusing fingers at Alhassan Ado Doguwa, as the person “led the thugs and caused violence while possessing firearms” on that day.

Doguwa is the Majority Leader of the House of Representatives of Nigeria. He is an All Progressive Congress (APC) member representing the Doguwa/Tudun Wada Federal constituency of Kano state.

Doguwa was first elected member of the House of Representatives for the constituency in 1992 and returned to the green chamber in 2007 where he was consistently re-elected and has been the representative of that constituency since.

Approximately six weeks after the incident, 35-year-old Auwalu Bala survived the attack, but he is still incapacitated. The father of three can no longer work to fend for his family because, till the time of filing this report, he is unable to resume his job as a labourer. The injuries he sustained still affect his health and he now lives at the mercy of his extended family members who make provisions for him and his household.

“As I was about to perform my prayers in the mosque on that day, I heard people echoing ‘Doguwa’s Boys are here’ Bala told The ICIR “, but I was less concerned because I am not a party supporter, and I always mind my business.”

“When the tension was high, I made my way out of the mosque, where seven thugs surrounded me and started beating me ruthlessly with heavy sticks and other weapons”, he narrated.

“I pleaded with them to have mercy on me because I don’t participate in political activities, but they did not. All they kept saying was ‘sa mu aka yi’, meaning ‘we were sent’. While beating me, I got weakened, fell to the ground and then they macheted my back, after which I started bleeding profusely, with a hand broken.”

He said, adding that he is grateful that the injury didn’t affect his spinal cord.

Bala said he spent 10 days at the hospital and, while on his sickbed, was so worried about his mother, wife and children. “I prayed to Allah to keep them safe from the violence and also help me recover because the pain was too much. The hurt of not being able to provide for my household as a man because of my present condition weakens me mentally.”

“I don’t know why they attacked me because I don’t have anything to do with political activities aside from voting during elections,” Bala said.

He was, however, unfazed as he added that he would still vote in the supplementary elections slated for April 15.

Kano state was among the states the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) held a supplementary election.

The Kano Resident Electoral Commissioner, Abdul Zango while speaking at a stakeholder meeting with the police, civil society, political party representatives and the media at the headquarters of INEC ahead of the supplementary elections in Kano stated that violence was among the major reasons why the supplementary elections were held in Kano.

He said, “The only reason why we are conducting the supplementary election is because of violence”.

Zango added that a lot of the violence unleashed on people isn’t always from a directive of the political class, as “some supporters can unleash mayhem on the opposition without getting a directive from a politician but one can’t tell the limit so please eschew violence.”

“We can never forgive, we want justice!”
Eighteen-year-old Labaran Sule escaped death by the whiskers. Not only was he shot in his shoulder, he was also macheted close to his neck. He was in a pool of blood by the roadside when help came his way, and was taken to the hospital.

He told The ICIR that he is still angry at the incident and cannot forgive Alhassan Doguwa and the thugs who he accused of attacking him.

“It was about 3 p.m. in the afternoon when I came out of the mosque and saw the office of NNPP on fire, and Doguwa had two guns in his hands. The distance between myself and him wasn’t much, and before I knew what happened, he shot me in the shoulder for no reason. I was crawling and trying to escape when he ordered a thug with a machete to cut me or give him the machete to do it.”

READ MORE HERE: https://www.icirnigeria.org/bloodshed-and-death-inside-story-of-kanos-tudun-wada-electoral-violence-in-doguwas-constituency/

Business / Company Profit Drops From N5billion To N1.86 Billion Due To Cbn naria policy by Shehuyinka: 2:29pm On Apr 18
THE Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc, a publicly traded company under the name Transcorp, reported a 63.08 per cent decline in profit after tax (PAT) to N1.86 billion in the first quarter (Q1) of the year, from the N5.04 billion the company posted in the same period of 2022.

Many businesses had been adversely affected by the naira redesign policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in the first quarter.

The apex bank had in October 2022 announced its plan to phase out designs of the N200, N500 and N1,000 notes, and introduced new designs into circulation, arguing it would help check counterfeiting, strengthen the economy, fight banditry, curb vote-buying in the general elections, and reduce the expenditure on cash management.

However, the redesign policy, experts said, had done more damage to the economy, paralysing business activities.

“The entire exercise was a needless disruption of economic growth activities, especially among the most vulnerable segments of the economy,” the Chief Executive Officer of the Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprises (CPPE), Muda Yusuf, told The ICIR.

A look at Transcorp’s unaudited financial statements for the period ended 31 March 2023 showed that the company reported losses across all its main profit indicators.

A diversified conglomerate with investments in the hospitality, power, and oil and gas sectors, Transcorp’s profit before tax (PBT) also fell sharply by 50.18 per cent to N2.85 billion in the first quarter this year, from N5.73 billion in the first quarter of 2022.

READ MORE HERE: https://www.icirnigeria.org/transcorps-net-profit-drops-63-08-amid-strained-naira-redesign-policy/

Business / Nigerians Continue To Patronise Loan Apps Despite Crude Ways Of Fund Recovery by Shehuyinka: 10:45am On Apr 03
NIGERIANS from all walks of life have continued to patronise loan apps despite their unconventional ways of recovering their money.

These loan apps act as platforms where you can get quick loans with no collateral other than providing a bank verification number (BVN) and a request to allow pictures and contacts on a potential customer’s phone.

*Yemisi (not her real name), a resident of Ojo, Lagos, told The ICIR in a chat that despite being warned by friends and relatives about the risk of borrowing money from the Loan Apps, she still went ahead.

“I was warned by several people to avoid the Loan Apps, but I still went in. They almost killed me; I nearly died; they sent horrible messages to all my contacts. At one point, they told my contacts I was a fraudster. Please, I don’t even want to remember,” she said.

Yemisi not only took a loan and regretted it but also introduced one of her friends, Mummy Wura, to the loan facility.

Mummy Wura, in a chat with The ICIR, said she got a loan from CreditAll, and it’s a miracle she is alive to tell the story.

“At a point, I develop high blood pressure. They will call me every day in the morning, afternoon and night, threatening me, even though I promised to pay them in due time.

“They gave me a loan of N60,000; I was expected to pay N80,000 within a month. I defaulted for two days, and I saw hell,” the mother of two said.

According to her, she also borrowed from Carbon Loan App, which claimed they paid money into her account, but she did not see the money.

More victims of the loan app shaming strategy narrate their experiences.
Another victim, Precious, narrates her experience to The ICIR in a chat.

“My name is Precious. I got a phone from Easybuy; I bought the phone on credit. During my payment, I was opportune to apply for a loan.

“So, early this year, January to be precise, I collected another loan.

“The plans I had in paying up the loan were aborted. So, I had to start struggling to pay up.

READ MORE HERE: https://www.icirnigeria.org/nigerians-continue-to-patronise-loan-apps-despite-crude-ways-of-fund-recovery/

Politics / Rimba, The FCT Community On The Brink Of Herders-farmers Crisis Escalation by Shehuyinka: 5:47pm On Mar 29
Last year, 2022, holds terrifying memories for farmers in Rimba, a remote community in Abaji Area Council of the FCT, due to the incessant destruction of crops by cattle. In addition, Police efforts to charge a herder to court for the attempted murder of a farmer were frustrated by backdoor settlement, Sinafi Omanga of The ICIR reports.

On the afternoon of October 23 last year, 23 years old farmer Kefas Luka visited his farm about three kilometres away from his home. With their herder in sight, he found a herd of cattle grazing on his budding millet farm.

Luka did not anticipate the brutal episode that followed.

“I wanted to record the Fulani herdsman with my phone to use as evidence. Only for him to bring out a long cutlass and cut the hand I was using to hold the phone,” Kefas said, teary-eyed.

“It was not the first time they were destroying our crops, and whenever we report, their people and the police don’t take any action”, he added.

Several months after the incident, Kefas is still receiving treatment at the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada; his full recovery is not in sight yet.

Wrapped with a bandage, his wound still oozed pus, “The doctor said I still have four surgeries to undergo. Every day, I go to the hospital for checkups, but sometimes I feel like I have lost my hand”, he groaned.

At least 30 farmers in Rimba who are mainly Gbagyi told The ICIR that their farms were either looted or grazed by herders. Some of them said the herders put their cattle to pasture in the farmland with impunity.

The consistent destruction of crops by the cattle whose herders the community described as mainly Fulani is festering resentment and leading to hunger.

Though located in the FCT, Rimba has struggled with infrastructural deprivations such as clean water, mobile network, hospital, electricity and access roads.

The persistent face-offs between herdsmen and Rimba farmers over the destruction of crops are hardly reported to the police but rather handled informally through village chiefs, findings by The ICIR revealed.

However, the October incident with Luka was reported to the police, Bagudu Usman was identified as the primary suspect.

“We reported the matter because it was very serious” according to Pius, Luka’s elder brother, who had reported the matter at the Abaji Police Area Command, Abuja.

After investigation, Police declared Usman’s offence as “an attempted murder” which would be transferred from the Abaji Area Command to Force Headquarters, Abuja.

But, in what appeared to be a big surprise, Usman, the accused, was released from police custody after spending three weeks at the command’s detention, Pius explained.

Shedding light on why Usman was released, the Area Commander of Abaji Police Area Command, who was mandated by the FCT Police spokesperson, Josephine Adeh to speak on the matter, referred to the Administration of the Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), 2015.

“By law, the police cannot detain a suspect for more than 48 hours, but because it was a case that bordered on life, we obtained an affidavit from the court to retain him in detention for almost a month.

“But the victim’s family members and village chiefs came here and bailed the suspect. I was surprised”, said Abiodun Makanjoula, the Abaji Police Area Commander.

When The ICIR visited Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), Abaji Branch, to speak with Usman, the branch chairman, Abdullahi Musa, said the suspect is not from around there, he was hired by a cattle owner, Isa Alih to herd over four hundred cows.

MACBAN, an advocacy group centred on advancing the interest of Fulani pastoralists in Nigeria, said since Usman was released from Police custody, he has “disappeared” from the community.

READ MORE HERE: https://www.icirnigeria.org/rimba-the-fct-community-on-the-brink-of-herder-farmers-crisis-escalation/

Business / Nigerians Continue To Patronise Loan Apps Despite Crude Ways Of Fund Recovery by Shehuyinka: 5:35pm On Mar 29
NIGERIANS from all walks of life have continued to patronise loan apps despite their unconventional ways of recovering their money.

These loan apps act as platforms where you can get quick loans with no collateral other than providing a bank verification number (BVN) and a request to allow pictures and contacts on a potential customer’s phone.

*Yemisi (not her real name), a resident of Ojo, Lagos, told The ICIR in a chat that despite being warned by friends and relatives about the risk of borrowing money from the Loan Apps, she still went ahead.

“I was warned by several people to avoid the Loan Apps, but I still went in. They almost killed me; I nearly died; they sent horrible messages to all my contacts. At one point, they told my contacts I was a fraudster. Please, I don’t even want to remember,” she said.

Yemisi not only took a loan and regretted it but also introduced one of her friends, Mummy Wura, to the loan facility.

Mummy Wura, in a chat with The ICIR, said she got a loan from CreditAll, and it’s a miracle she is alive to tell the story.

“At a point, I develop high blood pressure. They will call me every day in the morning, afternoon and night, threatening me, even though I promised to pay them in due time.

“They gave me a loan of N60,000; I was expected to pay N80,000 within a month. I defaulted for two days, and I saw hell,” the mother of two said.

According to her, she also borrowed from Carbon Loan App, which claimed they paid money into her account, but she did not see the money.

More victims of the loan app shaming strategy narrate their experiences.
Another victim, Precious, narrates her experience to The ICIR in a chat.

“My name is Precious. I got a phone from Easybuy; I bought the phone on credit. During my payment, I was opportune to apply for a loan.

“So, early this year, January to be precise, I collected another loan.

“The plans I had in paying up the loan were aborted. So, I had to start struggling to pay up.

“I got a series of calls and messages from them that I was a fraud.

“It’s Newedge; Palm credit that gives out loans in Easybuy. So, I got a lot of messages from them, threatening messages.

Precious said she made them understand that she had no intention of defrauding the company. However, they kept sending her threatening messages and reported her to her guarantor.

“I was able to make a payment of N10,000; part payment. After 4-5 days, one of the workers sent another threatening message. I couldn’t bear it,” she said.

READ MORE HERE: https://www.icirnigeria.org/nigerians-continue-to-patronise-loan-apps-despite-crude-ways-of-fund-recovery/

Politics / Supreme Court Judges Who May Decide Nigeria’s Next President by Shehuyinka: 2:23pm On Mar 22
As parties displeased with the outcomes of February 25, 2023, presidential election head for court, The ICIR reports that the cases will most likely get to the Supreme Court, given similar cases in the past.

Following what many see as controversial pronouncements by the apex court in recent times, The ICIR’s Marcus Fatunmole and Theophilus Adedokun, in this piece, profile the current 13 justices of the Supreme Court, including some of the recent cases they handled and accompanying public opinions that greeted their outcomes.

The ICIR had earlier done an explainer on steps and timelines for resolving Presidential election disputes in Nigeria. Read it HERE.

The 2023 presidential result
INEC declared the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, the election winner at about 4 a.m. on Wednesday, March 1.

The Chairman of the Commission and the returning officer for the 2023 Presidential Election, Mahmood Yakubu, said Tinubu polled 8,794,726 votes.

The candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar finished second with 6,984,520 votes. (The ICIR reported how hope dims for Atiku after six failed shots at the presidency.)

Labour Party (LP) candidate Peter Obi came third in the February election with 6,101,533 votes, while Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) had 1,496,687.

Twelve other candidates got fewer votes than the four major political parties at the election.

PDP and LP have claimed they won the poll and would be heading to court to challenge its outcome.

Some of the previous judgements bothering on elections by the Supreme Court
In December 2008, the court upheld the election of late President Musa Y’adua, despite admitting it was flawed.

The former Military Head of State and now incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari and Atiku Abubakar, who vied for the presidency against Yar’Adua, challenged his victory.

Yar’Adua succeeded former President Olusegun Obasanjo on a joint ticket he held with former President Goodluck Jonathan. Jonathan assumed office after Yar’Adua died in office.

In January 2020, The ICIR reported how six governors reclaimed their mandates through the Supreme Court since the nation returned to democracy in 1999.

The Supreme Court justices and some of the cases they have handled
Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Olukayode Ariwoola
The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Olukayode Ariwoola, was appointed a Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria in 2011. He was at the Court of Appeal between 2005 and 2011.

READ MORE HERE: https://www.icirnigeria.org/supreme-court-judges-who-may-decide-nigerias-next-president/

Travel / How Poor Weather Almost Crashes Aero Flight Carrying Scores On Route Abuja-lagos by Shehuyinka: 9:13pm On Mar 16
AN AERO Contractor flight 2124 escaped a crash en route Abuja-Lagos on Wednesday, March 16, while inbound Lagos State.

Carrying, at least, 80 passengers, the flight experienced much turbulence from a heavy cloud, eventually resulting in a downpour.

Passengers overwhelmed with fear screamed and called on God to save them from impending doom through different means as the aircraft’s wings flapped raucously.

Many called ‘Jesus’, and others shouted ‘Allah’ as the hope of escaping death waned.

The incident happened between 4:25pm and 4:40pm.

Awojebe Akinwale was the flight’s captain. Elated passengers praised his team when the flight eventually landed at about 4:45pm.

The cabin crew and the captain’s co-pilot beamed with smiles as they watched the passengers disembark.

READ MORE HERE: https://www.icirnigeria.org/how-poor-weather-almost-crahses-aero-contractor-flight-on-route-abuja-lagos/

Politics / Tension As Sanwo-olu, Rhodes-vivour, Adediran Battle For Lagos Governorship Seat by Shehuyinka: 7:18pm On Mar 16
The Lagos State governorship election holds on Saturday March 18, with the incumbent Babajide Sanwo-Olu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), AbdulAzeez Adediran of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour of the Labour Party (LP) the leading contenders for the seat. The ICIR’s Temitayo Odunlami examines the tension-soaked build-up to the election and the chances of the three front-seat candidates.

THE stakes have gone higher in the electoral race to the Lagos State governor’s office at Alausa, Ikeja. The governorship election holds on Saturday March 18 and it is a no-brainer that it will be contested among Babajide Sanwo-Olu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Abdul-Azeez Olajide Adediran of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour of the Labour Party (LP). Other candidates do not stand even a scintilla of a fighting chance.

The APC is a bigger version of the ‘progressives’ camp that has held the state in its grip since 1999. Since the president-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, governed the state from 1999 to 2007, he has not only ensured that the party he leads controls the state, he has been directly involved in picking who would be governor.

Until now, Tinubu had had it relatively easy to control the governorship election, even when former president Olusegun Obasanjo vowed his “do-or-die” politicking in the 2003 and 2007 elections. The Alliance for Democracy (AD), and later the Action Congress (AC) and Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), with Tinubu as a leader, had always conveniently dumped the PDP in the governorship elections in what were purely two-way races. Other parties were inconspicuous. But the sudden emergence of the LP seems to be altering the configuration for Saturday’s election.

How the AD (AC, ACN, APC) dominated PDP in previous elections in Lagos
In the 1999 governorship election, Tinubu, contesting on the AD platform, defeated Dapo Sarumi of the PDP, polling 841,732 votes to Sarumi’s 184,900.

The PDP, with Obasanjo pushing for the party to completely take over the South-West, put up a stronger showing in the 2003 governorship election in Lagos State. The party’s Funso Williams garnered 740,506 votes, but could not do enough to unseat Tinubu, who polled 911,613 votes to return. Lagos State was the only one the PDP was unable to snatch from the AD in the South-West, a development that would begin to unravel Tinubu as an emerging political strategist to watch.

Before the 2007 governorship election in the state, Tinubu had departed the AD to form the AC. It was on this new platform that he picked his Chief of Staff, Babatunde Fashola, to run for governorship to succeed him. Fashola won the election with 599,300, edging PDP’s Musiliu Obanikoro, who got 383,956 votes.

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By 2011, the AC had metamorphosed into the ACN, on which platform Fashola ran for a return to office. He won convincingly, polling 1,509,113 votes against PDP’s Ade Dosunmu’s 300,450 votes.

Again, the ACN would assume another political identity after merging with the Congress for Political Change (CPC), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and a faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) to form the APC.

It was on the APC ticket that Akinwunmi Ambode, another Tinubu nominee, contested the 2015 governorship election. Ambode won the election with 811,994 votes to succeed Fashola, beating Jimi Agbaje of the PDP, who had 659,788 votes.

APC leaders in Lagos State would not give Ambode a second term opportunity for the 2019 governorship election, and in his stead, they picked Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who emerged winner with 739,445 votes, defeating Agbaje, who contested for the second consecutive time on the PDP name and got 206,141 votes.

2023 Lagos governorship election and the LP factor
The tables may have turned. The governorship election in Lagos State on March 18 is expected to be fundamentally different from the two-horse race it had been since 1999. From the blues, Rhodes-Vivour has jumped into the mix, thanks to the frontline showing of the LP in Lagos State in the presidential election of February 25.

READ MORE HERE: https://www.icirnigeria.org/tension-as-sanwo-olu-rhodes-vivour-adediran-battle-for-lagos-governorship-seat/

Politics / Agberos Rake In N2.16bn Revenue Annually From Lagos Ports Corridor by Shehuyinka: 4:54pm On Mar 16
This is the second part of a two-part report in which NURUDEEN AKEWUSHOLA examines how indiscriminate extortion and touting by hoodlums and corrupt security agencies along ports’ corridors impede the efficiency of electronic call-up system developed to deal with port congestion and restore order to that economic gateway.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CQF0FkKnpt8
Touting frustrating digital system
To address the issue of truck congestion in Apapa and restore order to the port surroundings, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) initiated the electronic call-up system on February 27, 2021, which is designed to manage the movement of all trucks calling in the country’s ports. This system aims to provide a lasting solution to the challenge of congestion experienced in the industry.

The electronic system was designed for the hitch-free management of truck movements and access to the Lagos Ports Complex and the Tin Can Island Ports in Apapa, and ending the perennial logjam caused by articulated trucks within the port corridors.

The truck electronic call-up system, which is powered by a web application called “Eto”, is said to be responsible for the scheduling, entry and exit of all trucks in the ports.

However, The ICIR investigation shows that these flagrant acts of extortion have limited the efficiency of the digital technology aimed at containing the gridlock around the ports, as the problem visibly lingers to date.

The ICIR’s checks showed that trucks used to spend as long as two to three weeks, and truckers paid as much as N300,000 to access the port before the advent of the Eto Automation System.

However, with the introduction of the digital system, the average time to access the ports should be less than one hour; but with obstruction by illegal toll collectors and corrupt security agencies, it now takes between 12 to 24 hours for trucks to access the ports.

Under normal circumstances, it costs an average of N21,500 to access the port using Eto Application, but with multiple illegal checkpoints, truckers now spend between N50,000-N60,000.

Barely three weeks before this reporter’s visit to Lagos, tragedy struck at the Trade Fair bridge, along the Lagos-Badagry Expressway as a truck crushed a policeman and two other persons to death.

Some touts had attempted to stop the truck and collect money from the driver by force, but he refused to obey. This made the violent thugs drag the steering wheel with the driver and, in the process, the truck lost control and crushed three persons to death.

Similarly, The ICIR gathered that these hoodlums attacked and stabbed a cameraman of the Channels Television, Ismail Sanusi, whilst filming their illegal activities on the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway as well as around the Apapa and Tin Can ports.

A Senior Research Analyst with Nairametric, Samuel Oyekanmi, explained that the flagrant acts of impunity by lawless toll collectors would impact the productivity of the Lagos ports as some businesses might be forced to relocate their operations to other business-friendly environments.

“The government needs to clamp down on the activities of the touts, either by providing them with social jobs or program that keeps them busy and productive, rather than being a nuisance and hampering the development of business in the state,” Oyekanmi said.

Thuggery and Touting: A lucrative business in Lagos
Area boys, or Agbero, is an informal name for a person, usually a thug, who collects rates, fees, tolls and other forms of illegal tax around motor parks. They are every Lagos resident’s nightmare.

In broad daylight, they levy tolls on commercial drivers, patrol potential car-parking spaces and demand illegal fees from citizens.

Earlier investigations by The ICIR have shown how these violent non-state actors pocket millions of Naira from wreaking havoc on commercial transporters and disrupting businesses in Lagos.

The investigation, which was carried out in 21 LCDAs shows that bus drivers, tricyclists and motorcyclists pay a whopping ₦123.078 billion annually to touts in Lagos. However, because of their networks in the state government, they have become powerful, rampant and unstoppable in the state.

According to the Trust Transit Park, over 78,500 registered trucks frequent the Lagos ports, and at least 3000 of them access the ports daily. The average amount charged by the hoodlums at these points is ₦2,000, based on The ICIR findings.

This means that the hoodlums rake estimated ₦6 million daily, ₦180 million monthly and about ₦ 2.16 billion annually from this illegal business. This is just for a single extortion toll point.

READ MORE HERE: https://www.icirnigeria.org/maritime-bandits-agberos-rake-in-n2-16bn-revenue-annually-from-lagos-ports-corridor-2/

Politics / Maritime Bandits: Lagos Govt Looks Away As Extortion Thrive At Apapa Ports by Shehuyinka: 11:12am On Mar 15
The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) introduced the electronic call-up system, powered by the Eto App, to tackle the issue of truck congestion in Apapa ports and restore order to that economic gateway. However, indiscriminate extortion and touting by hoodlums and corrupt security agencies along ports’ corridors have continued to impede the efficiency of the system. In this report, The ICIR’s NURUDEEN AKEWUSHOLA details how this development threatens the maritime sector.

As he headed out to work one sunny afternoon in November 2022, Chidera Ajaekwe, a truck driver, was filled with anticipation akin to the blazing sun in Lagos. He hoped to make a sufficient income to send to his parents in the village. Unfortunately, the trip turned out to be a horrible experience.

The 29-year-old, along with his fellow truck drivers, were transporting goods from a warehouse to the Tin Can Port when they were intercepted by a group of miscreants at an illegal checkpoint in Agboju. The thugs demanded a fee of ₦1,000 per truck, but the drivers were unable to comply since they had already expended their funds in settling the demands of previous groups of criminals at prior junctions.

Enraged, the thugs resorted to using force to compel compliance with their demands. In a violent outburst, one of them threw a big stone at Chidera’s eyes, causing him to collapse to the ground. Chidera cried out in agony as his eyes bled. As soon as the thugs saw what they had done, they fled the scene.

Chidera’s colleagues rushed him to the garage, and then to the police station to report the incident. However, when they got there, the police said it was not within their jurisdiction, advising them to visit another police station.

To save his life, his colleagues took him to the hospital, but by the time they got there, his eyes were already swollen, and he had lost a lot of blood.

Today, Chidera still lives in pain that reminds him of the ugly encounter, but his attackers still walk freely on the streets of Lagos.

“I have been having sleepless nights since the incident occurred, as the eyes still pain me any time I wish to sleep,” Chidera said, trying without success to cushion the tears trundling down his face because of the excruciating pain that resulted from the injury.

Chidera’s boss, who identified himself as Kayode, told The ICIR that he had spent over ₦100,000 in treating his eyes and that they had plans to go to a specialist hospital, where they already knew they would expend more money to secure treatment for him.

“The government is not doing well. If we talk about it, they would say it’s the government that put them there. They would be saying they are Sanwoolu boys,” he lamented.

Like Chidera, many truck drivers who frequent Lagos ports have been victims of attacks by these violent toll collectors in Lagos who harass businesses and collect illegal taxes from them. They generally create unwarranted bottlenecks in the import and export businesses conducted at the ports.

The open impunity
Findings by The ICIR show that there are several stations of extortionists operating publicly along the Apapa and Tin Can ports corridor. Unfortunately, their activities are aided by security operatives, especially the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), a Lagos State-owned agency under the Ministry of Transportation.

Some victims who spoke with The ICIR identified non-state actors at the centre of this sharp practice as Lagos touts, members of Road Transport Employees Association( RTEAN), Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), Maritimes Workers Union(MWUN), National Union of Road Transport Workers(NURTW) and Lagos State Parks and Garages (LASPARK).

While the complicit state actors are officers of the Lagos police, Lagos State Traffic Management Authority and the Federal Road Safety Commission.

This act of impunity by state and non-state actors which continues to frustrate the digital system and port operations has also led to several ghastly accidents which claimed the lives of citizens.

Data collated via independent oral testimonies from over 20 truck drivers operating at Apapa and Tin Can ports shows that there are about 15 channels of extortion along the Tin Can terminal axis and about 21 along the Apapa Port axis, and each truck driver said he pays at least N30,000 daily in settling thugs, popularly called Area Boys, before reaching their destinations.

The roads leading to the ports in Lagos were heavily congested on the bright afternoon of Saturday, November 26, 2022. Numerous trucks and fuel tankers lined up in extensive queues, vying to reach their intended destinations.

Disguised as a truck driver, this reporter embarked on an investigative journey on some of the routes associated with the ports. Findings show that the touts, who mount checkpoints at different stations leading to the ports, make thousands of naira daily from truck drivers.

The reporter visited various stations in Amuwo Odofin, proceeding from there to the Fatgbems junction and Mile-2, before heading to the Tin Can and Apapa ports.

READ MORE HERE: https://www.icirnigeria.org/maritime-bandits-lagos-government-looks-away-as-touting-extortion-thrive-at-apapa-ports-corridor-part-1/

Politics / Steps And Timelines For Resolving Presidential Election Disputes In Nigeria by Shehuyinka: 10:19am On Mar 13
THE Presidential and National Assembly elections were held in Nigeria on February 25, 2023.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the winner of the presidential poll, ahead of 17 other candidates that contested the election.

The Chairman of INEC, Mahmood Yakubu, announced the results in the early hours of Wednesday, March 1, 2023.

According to the released result from INEC, Tinubu scored a total of 8,794,726 votes to defeat Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who polled a total of 6,984,520 votes, and Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP), who came third with a total of 6,101,533 votes.


Both PDP and LP candidates rejected the outcome of the election and vowed to challenge it in court.

It should be noted that the Nigerian Supreme Court has never overturned a presidential dispute.

Election petitions question the legitimacy of an election or contest the outcome. 

It is a legitimate strategy for arguing that a declared or returned candidate did not win an election.

Election petition tribunals are specialised courts that handle election cases instead of regular courts.

CJN, Kayode Ariwoola

Elections in Nigeria are governed by Section 288 of the Constitution and the Electoral Act 2022.

Setting up Election Tribunal

It is a statutory responsibility of the Court of Appeal to set up the tribunals 30 days before the elections, as stated in Section 130(3)(a) of the Electoral Act 2022.

The register of the tribunals is expected to be opened at least seven days ahead of the elections.

The Court of Appeal acts as the court to handle presidential election issues. In contrast, Tribunals handle National, State Assembly and gubernatorial elections.

Who qualifies to file an election petition?

No matter how passionately a citizen feels about an election, merely being a Nigerian cannot serve as sufficient justification for launching a judicial challenge.

Only a candidate who ran for office or a political party may submit a petition to contest the results.

Grounds for filing an election petition

Section 134 of the Electoral Act states the grounds on which a petition can be filed.
https://www.icirnigeria.org/explainer-steps-and-timelines-for-resolving-presidential-election-disputes-in-nigeria/

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Politics / Photo Does Not Show Peter Obi, Gbadebo Rhodes-vivour Drunk At Lagos Airport by Shehuyinka: 12:28pm On Mar 11
A photo showing the Labour Party’s presidential candidate in Nigeria’s 2023 general election, Peter Obi and the gubernatorial candidate of the party in Lagos State, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, with alcoholic drinks on their table has surfaced online.

The photo is circulating alongside another one which showed the duo taking a nap at the Ikeja Airport in Lagos, with a claim that both of them were drunk and caught sleeping at the Airport.

The image shows four bottles of Hero beer directly in front of Obi and a bottle of Heineken and a glass cup in front Rhodes-Vivour on the shared table.

A Twitter user, @Gasbytweet tweeted the claim with a caption that read: “How it started and how it ended. Drunks”

The tweet was also shared here.

A Facebook user, Zara Onyinye posted the photo with a caption thus:

HOW IT STARTED AND HOW IT ENDED

PICTURE NO DEY LIE

OBI NA 419

My uncle Obi was not sleeping at all. It was all stages managed

This Man started staging this film after he took his hero beer and got high somehow …

No amount of this yahoo yahoo strategies, campaigns on ethnicity, and religious bigotry can make him the next President of Nigeria.

I did not hate you but his lies is just so much

I sympathize with those covering under race and ecclesiastical small-mindedness supporting Peter Obi and asserting he will be the messiah to unravel Nigeria’s difficulty, records of Peter Obi’s divisiveness, looting from the treasury, and ineptitude then as Governor of Anambra are intactCLAIM

The CLAIM
Photo shows Peter Obi and Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour with alcoholic drinks on their table.

READ MORE HERE: https://www.icirnigeria.org/photo-does-not-show-peter-obi-gbadebo-rhodes-vivour-drunk-at-lagos-airport/

Politics / Abia Retirees Battle Poverty Over Non-payment Of Pension, Gratuity Human Rightsi by Shehuyinka: 12:14pm On Mar 11
Retirees in Abia state have been left to live in penury and squalor after giving their best years in service to the people and the state government. In this report, VINCENT UFUOMA chronicles their poor and harrowing conditions.

WHEN Dickson Onyemeta retired as a level 6 officer from the Abia State civil service in the Ministry of Agriculture in 2006, his plan was to set up a commercial poultry farm with the hope that gains from the farm would be used to take care of himself and his family of seven children.

However, when The ICIR spoke to him on January 2023, Onyemeta said he could only boast of 12 birds he keeps in a cage.

The 70-year-old man blamed the refusal of the state government to pay his then N460,000 gratuity for his inability to set up the farm.

In addition to the irregular payment of his N18,000 monthly pension, the elderly man said feeding and catering for his family had become a nightmare he had never anticipated when he left the service of the state in 2006.

“Look at me; I am a family man who still has children to train even at 70 because I married very late. But I cannot discharge my responsibility as a father due to financial hardship,” he said disappointedly.

“I left the state civil service in 2006 to leverage my experience in the Ministry of Agriculture to set up a commercial poultry farm that would take care of my needs and my immediate family.

“But my dream was shattered due to the refusal of the state government to pay me my gratuity. My gratuity, which was N400,000, was a huge amount of money when I retired more than 15 years ago. All I have right now is a memory of disappointment.”

“We are suffering!” he exclaimed, while adding that “retirees are suffering, Abia State government is not treating us well.”

He said he now depends on the goodwill of extended family and friends to feed at least once daily.

When asked how he treats his chronic arthritis, Onyemeta said he relies on prayers.

“I believe in prayers. I attend a white garment church, and I believe God will heal me,” he answered.

Like Onyemeta, many retirees interviewed by The ICIR in Abia state share testimonies of disappointments, despairs, hopelessness and anger they have all gone through, especially in the past seven years, in the face of withheld gratuities and irregular pensions payment spanning more than 40 months.

A copy of the state civil service rules sighted by The ICIR entitles workers who have served the state meritoriously for more than 15 years to gratuities and pensions upon retirement.

It reads in part, “Officers who have served for 15 years will be eligible to draw a gratuity of 100 per cent, and an annual pension of 30 per cent of the terminal salary. Thereafter gratuity will be calculated on a graduated scale up to 300 per cent of terminal salary after 35 years.

“Similarly, pension benefits will follow a graduated scale subject to a maximum of 70 per cent of terminal salary after 35 years of service.”

However, findings by The ICIR show that the state has not kept faith with its retired civil servants. The last gratuity was paid in 2002 by the then administration of Orji Uzor Kalu, who is now the Chief Whip of the Senate.

Gratuity by connection
The ICIR met Nwaeze Nnaji, who said his gratuity, which was close to a million naira, was paid in 2006 because of his privileged relationship with Theodore Ahamefule Orji, the then Chief of Staff to Kalu.

He retired from the service of the state in 2003. He said that many of his colleagues who retired alongside him but had no access to higher government officials like him have been unable to access their gratuities until now.

“I retired in 2003, but my gratuity was paid in 2006 after a series of struggles and intervention by TA Orji, who was then Chief of Staff. He gave me a letter to the former Abia State Accountant-General, who in turn effected the payment of my gratuity.”

His only concern now is the irregular payment of his monthly pension. Nnaji, who used to be a Garri trader shortly after retirement but has now stopped due to the downturn in the trade, lamented the pains of feeding himself, his wife and his daughter, a university graduate who has not been able to secure a job.

READ MORE HERE: https://www.icirnigeria.org/pension-series-abia-retirees-battle-poverty-over-non-payment-of-pension-gratuity/

Politics / 2023 Election: Actors, Methods And Colouration Of Online Disinformation by Shehuyinka: 1:50pm On Mar 09
Nigeria held the first leg of the general elections on February 25, and the second leg slated for March 11 was shifted to 19; in the build-up to the election, exaggerated, false and misleading claims saturated the media space.

Due to social media sites increasing dominance in Nigeria over the past couple of years, a new front in the country’s politics has emerged as politicians scramble to grab the attention of the nation’s millions of active social media users.

This report highlights actors, methods and colouration of pre-election disinformation in the country.

Festus Keyamo and Podium Reporters
On Labour party presidential candidate Peter Obi…
Festus Keyamo, who doubles as the spokesman for the APC presidential election campaign council, in a post shared on his Twitter handle on August 26, reshared FALSE information from an online platform Podium Reporters (archived here) on his Twitter handle that Labour Party Presidential Candidate Peter Obi has agreed to clear path for the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) flagbearer, Atiku Abubakar.

Sharing the report, Keyamo wrote, “We told the OBIdient soldiers that their ‘hero’ was taking them to nowhere; taking them for a ride of the century and for political 419! We laugh! We are ahead of them!”

However, in reaction to the published report and Keyamo’s tweet, the media office of the Obi-Datti 2023 Presidential Campaign debunked the report, describing it as the handiwork of charitable propagandists who indulge in distorting facts in the pursuit of imaginary relevance for their paymasters.

Also, the then Director-General of the Obi-Datti Campaign Organisation, Doyin Okupe, debunked the claim.

Five months after the claim published on Podium Reporters that Peter Obi was planning to step down for Atiku Abubakar, yet again Keyamo made another tweet archived here, where he amplified a content from an online platform, Western Post archived here and titled, “Peter Obi may step down for Atiku, as campaign council considers option,” that was FALSE.

Interestingly, Podium Reporters also published the same report, archived here.

The report read, “Having realised that there is no path to victory in next month general election, the campaign council of the Labour Party Presidential Candidate, Peter Obi, is already considering how the former Anambra State Governor will step down for Atiku Abubakar, the Peoples Democratic Party candidate.”

It further read, “Exclusive information gathered from top officials of the Peter Obi campaign team is that many of the associates of the Labour Party candidate and advisers have come to the realisation that the coming election is going to be a straight fight between APC and PDP.”

But in reaction to the report, Obi-Datti Media Office described the report as ridiculous and fake.

The statement reads, “Nothing can be more absurd than the fact that 18 persons are in a marathon to pick a trophy and somebody is suggesting that the front runner in the race who is already sighting the trophy wants to step down for somebody behind.

“The fact that other parties contesting for the president have been cloning the LP candidate in their corruptly induced gift items like bags of rice, posters and billboards speak volumes of who is the man to beat in this race.

Another claim shared by Festus Keyamo was on February 9, 2023, that showed a photo of an aerial image of a crowd that reportedly attended the campaign of Bola Tinubu in Sokoto state.

Keyamo tweeted the image archived here, alongside three other photos taken at the event, captioned: “More pictures from the mother of all rallies in Sokoto! The signs are all there for all to see! But they are playing! Make dem dey play!! In about a forth-night, the jungle will mature!!”

President Muhammadu Buhari and other APC members had, on February 9 2023, attended an APC-held rally in Sokoto State.

A Google Reverse Image search of the photo shows the aerial image was from July 31, 2021. Captured during a 4-Day music festival in Chicago, United States, popularly known as Lollapalooza.

Colin Hinkle, an aerial photographer, took the image. Twitter username: @hinklecolin.

Colin Hinkle, in an interview with Business Insider Africa, published on August 4, 2021, the photographer, said the image shows a large crowd who converged at the event in Chicago without wearing masks.

Podium Reporters again
Another report published by Podium Reporters archived here, claimed Former Senator Dino Melaye and some other heavyweight PDP stalwarts smuggled N50 billion out of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The claim, which was published on February 3, 2023, also alleged the Presidential Candidate of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar, was behind the current naira scarcity crisis.

It had said an anonymous whistle-blower released the information to a platform, Abuja News Network.

A check online and offline by The ICIR found no mention of the platform, Abuja News Network, referenced by Podium Reporters to be the source of the report.

In an effort to further confirm the veracity of the claim, a mail was sent to podium****@gmail.com, an email address found on the Facebook page of Podium Reporters, requesting a link to the report or Abuja News Network.

A text message was also sent requesting a link, so also a direct message was sent to their Twitter account. The three messages have not been responded to as of the time of filing this report.

Also, a call was made to 0706****599, a phone number found on the Facebook page of Podium Reporters, which was answered. A male voice picked up the call, and The ICIR reporter proceeded to introduce himself and spoke on why he called the number, to which the receiver on the call said, ‘OK‘ and dropped the call after listening to what said the reporter wanted.

Manipulated visuals
Manipulated letter circulates about UK government and Alpha Beta content
A post circulating on social media shows a letter alleging that the United Kingdom National Crime Agency (NCA) is investigating a Lagos-based consulting firm Alpha Beta for a case of laundering money through British banks to suspected drug dealers in Columbia.

The ICIR has spotted the alleged letter from NCA on Twitter and Facebook.

Alpha Beta, which has an exclusive right to collect funds on behalf of Lagos state, has been linked to the former Lagos Governor and 2023 Presidential candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

The Twitter post archived here, was also shared in the same format on Facebook and the website, Nairaland archived here.

https://www.icirnigeria.org/2023-election-actors-methods-and-colouration-of-online-disinformation/

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Politics / 2023 Election: Disenfranchised For Being Identical Twins by Shehuyinka: 5:27pm On Mar 08
ON February 25, the day of Nigeria’s presidential and National Assembly elections, Paul Akinpelu shared a video of himself and his identical twin brother Peter at a polling unit.

The declarative caption on the video was, “We are voting here, no matter how long it takes.”

The video showed them spotting similar clothing styles. This is a norm with them. A look at their social media accounts shows that the musicians, who go with the name ‘Exceptional Twins’ on instragram, always dress alike.

They were to vote in South West Nigeria, Oyo State, in the Egbeda Local Government Area.

Long enough it took, Paul’s resolve to vote did not materialise.

Twenty-four hours after the post, in a phone conversation with The ICIR and later via Instagram, Peter said his brother, Paul, could not vote.

“Only one of us could vote because their machine indicated that the same face had already been scanned, as we look so much alike. That was after one of us did his. So, they suggested fingerprints, but it didn’t work also,” Peter stated.

He said they waited and made multiple attempts, but all to no avail.

This is not an isolated incident.

Across the country, in Kaduna, Hussaini Muhammad Kabir and his identical twin Hassan were experiencing a similar challenge. One of them could not vote.

Hussaini, on his twitter account @hussainimk shared his experience. He said, “So I couldn’t vote because my twin voted before me. Unfortunately for me, the machine indicated that the same face was scanned. Fingerprint didn’t work also.”

He accompanied the tweet with a photo of their cards, which were eerily similar – image and data. Some twitter users who gave it a cusory look assumed it was the same person and information.

Like the Akinpelus, the Kabirs are not only identical, they also dress alike, as can be seen from images on their Instagram page.

In a follow-up conversation with The ICIR, Hussaini said, “I didn’t experience such during registering my permanent voters card (PVC).”

He, however, said they had encountered a similar issue at an airport while their international passports were being screened.

Another twin, Hussainah Uthman, stated in his comment section that the issue affected her and her sister as they were not able to get their PVCs. She wrote, “ Same thing happened to my sis, and I @HassanahUthman even worst cause we couldn’t get our PVC cause of the identical face thingy.”

READ MORE HERE: https://www.icirnigeria.org/2023-election-disenfranchised-for-being-identical-twins/

Politics / Kashim Shettima: Behold Nigeria’s Incoming Vice President by Shehuyinka: 2:17pm On Mar 02
IN the early hours of Wednesday, March 1, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, winner of Saturday’s presidential election.

The Chairman of INEC, Mahmood Yakubu, announced the final result at exactly 4:10 am, after days of collating results from across the 36 states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Tinubu polled 8,794,726 votes to defeat his closest rivals, Abubakar Atiku of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who got 6,984,520 votes and Labour Party (LP) candidate Peter Obi, who scored 6,101,533 votes.

Tinubu did not run the race alone; he ran with Kashim Shettima as his running mate.

Shettima is a former governor of Borno State in Nigeria’s North-West.

Here are some things to know about the Vice – President-elect.

Educational background
Shettima, now vice president-elect of Nigeria, was born on September 2, 1966.

He attended Lamisula Primary School in Maiduguri from 1972 to 1978 before transferring to Government Community Secondary School, Biu, in Southern Borno, where he spent the following two years, from 1978 to 1980.

After that, he relocated to the Government Science Secondary School in Potiskum, where he completed his secondary education in 1983.

Shettima thereafter attended the University of Maiduguri, where he obtained a Degree (BSc) in Agricultural Economics in 1989.

He did his National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) at the defunct Nigerian Agricultural Cooperative Bank, Calabar, Cross River, from 1989 to 1990.

Furthermore, he obtained a Master’s Degree (MSc) in Agricultural Economics at the University of Ibadan in 1991.

Shettima worked as a lecturer in the Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of Maiduguri from 1991 to 1993.

Banking career
Shettima joined the banking sector in 1993, where he worked for the now-defunct Commercial Bank of Africa as head of accounts.

In 1997 he moved to the African International Bank (AIB) Limited as a Deputy Manager. He rose to become a Manager.

He also worked at Zenith Bank as head of its main Maiduguri Branch.

At Zenith Bank, he rose to various Senior Managerial positions before he left the bank as a General Manager in 2007.

READ MORE HERE: https://www.icirnigeria.org/kashim-shettima-behold-nigerias-incoming-vice-president/

Politics / Terrorism: Kaduna residents skeptical about participating in 2023 election by Shehuyinka: 2:35pm On Feb 22
AS Nigerians gear up to elect new set of leaders who would pilot the affairs of the country for the next four years, insecurity has been identified as one of the major challenges that may mar the process as the safety of electoral personnel and voters cannot be guaranteed in some parts of the country battling insecurity. Nurudeen Akewushola reports how security situation in some terrorised communities in Kaduna threatens citizens' participation in the 2023 polls.

As many Nigerians are enthusiastic about casting their votes, the situation is a bit different for 30-year-old Hussaina, a resident of Kaduna state. Election is the least of her worries because her husband is currently lying helplessly on a sick bed after being shot twice by terrorists during an attack that occurred earlier in February prior to The ICIR visit.

On that fateful day, residents of Ringin Unguwan village were swallowed by fear when they woke up to the sight of sporadic gunshots by bandits. While women and young children scampered for safety, the grown men picked up their local guns and exchanged fire with the attackers. 

Hussaina

The attack is not the first of its kind. Before then, terrorists had attacked the community several times, robbed them of their possessions, and kidnapped residents in exchange for ransom, but due to the failure of the government to find a lasting solution, they often resorted to self-defence.

READ ALSO:

With Buhari’s time in office coming to an end, here’s what to know about Nigeria’s elections
Ogun House of Rep member dragged into illegal seizure of voters’ PVCs
Ballot or bullet: Inside South-East Nigeria, ahead of 2023 election
Despite owing 26-month doctors’ salaries, Abia Governor seeks election to senate


On that fateful day, Hussaina's husband, Magaji Ringin, 67, was one of the men that volunteered to face the bandits to protect the lives and properties of the residents from the grip of terrorists. Magaji was shot twice in the leg during the fierce encounter.

Recounting his encounter with the terrorists, Magaji said, “I decided to join them to protect our people because I'm aged, and I don't need to fear death. I just faced them, and we were exchanging fire when two bullets pierced my leg." 

Magaji
- Politicians shun troubled communities -

“We don't have peace, and we cannot participate in the election on the election.  I don't think elections would hold in our community because no politician came to our village for election campaign", Magaji told The ICIR. 

“Our community has been taken over by bandits, our Animals have been carted away by them. So who will stay back to vote, or who would bring the boxes on election day? Even some of us that lived in the community later left because of fear of terror. What will happen to somebody that's not from the community? If the security situation improves, we can go back to our community and cast our votes, but if the situation remains the same, we cannot go back," Magaji explained. 

Nigerians are set to choose who leads them in the next four years. The Presidential election is scheduled for February 25, while the  Governorship and State Assembly is scheduled for March 11. However, experts have said rising insecurity across the country could deny many citizens from participating in the elections.

READ MORE HERE: https://www.icirnigeria.org/2023-troubled-by-terrorists-kaduna-residents-skeptical-about-participating-in-election/

Education / How Kebbi Primary School Teachers Are Promoted Without Pay Raise by Shehuyinka: 2:31pm On Feb 20
THE letter Nasir Garba, 43, received in 2013 was the last one that mattered.

It indicated that his request for a higher grade level — from entry level 6 to level 7 — had been approved by the Kebbi State Universal Basic Education Board (KBSUBEB).

In the month that followed, his salary reflected it. The process was fast. So when he requested another promotion in 2016, this time from level 7 to 8, and his monthly wage remained the same two months after approval, he considered it a minor error that would soon be rectified.

He was wrong. Instead, that began an unimplemented promotion issue that would last almost a decade. He would later request a promotion in 2019 and 2022 for levels 9 and 10. All the requests were approved but not implemented.

Nasir Garba teaches Information communication technology (ICT) at Gwandu Emirate Model Primary School, a government-owned school located in the Birnin Kebbi, Kebbi state capital.

The school is in the middle of the city, with four blocks, a story building, about 2001 students and 42 teachers, who, like Nasir, have received promotions with pay raise for years.

Most class teachers are recruited at grade level six. After three years, they are qualified for a level upgrade. Once the promotion is approved, the teachers are entitled to a raise.

The Kebbi state Universal Basic Education Board (KBSUBEB) is responsible for processing and approving the promotions.

After approval, the Local government Education Authority (LGEA) in the 21 LGAs in the state is to pay the new teachers an increased monthly wage. However, this process is never completed.

Constitutionally, the role of the Kebbi UBE board is to appoint, promote, transfer, dismiss and discipline all teaching and non-teaching staff on grade level 07 and above in primary schools. And also supervise the affairs of the LGEAs.

Multiple promotions without financial benefits
The notification of payment Nasir received in November 2022 and shared with The ICIR showed that he earns N27,523 monthly, an amount below Nigeria’s minimum wage.

It is the same amount he earned in 2013 after he received the upgraded letter.

After working as a primary school teacher for 14 years, Nasir is entitled to N48,000 monthly wage as a grade level 10 teacher.

The board had approved his application in January 2022, but his salary did not change.

“Last year, I moved to level 10, but my salary is still the same amount I earned about eight years ago when I was in level 7. I have accumulated promotions that are never reflected in my pay.

“I applied, provided all the required documents, and the documents were authenticated and approved, but I never got to enjoy the financial benefits. It is unfair,” Nasir told The ICIR.

Nasir’s case is not isolated. Teachers who spoke to The ICIR said promotion without a raise is an issue affecting every primary school teacher in the state.

Also, several teachers still earn below the minimum wage despite working for nearly a decade.

The Kebbi Government announced in 2019 that it had domesticated the new minimum wage legislation and was set to commence payment of the wage to civil servants.

But three years after this announcement, many civil servants still earn below N30,000. Although The ICIR could not get a full scale of the state’s teachers’ salaries, its finding showed that primary school workers still earn as low as N17,000 to N18,000 monthly.

READ MORE HERE: https://www.icirnigeria.org/how-kebbi-primary-school-teachers-are-promoted-without-pay-raise/

Politics / Buhari’s Tenure Ends In 98 Days by Shehuyinka: 9:47am On Feb 20
IN line with the provision of Nigeria’s Constitution, President Muhammadu Buhari will end his second and final term in office on May 29, which is 100 days from today.

Buhari assumed office on May 29, 2015, after defeating the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan, who sought re-election for a second term.

He is the country’s eighth and 16th leader (military Head of State between December 31, 1983 and August 27, 1985, and as elected president between May 29, 2015 and May 29, 2023).

The president rode to office on his pledge to tackle insecurity and corruption, and revamp the economy.

The ICIR reports that Buhari inherited a nation battered by insecurity and widespread corruption.

Failure of Jonathan’s government to contain deadly attacks in the North, including Abuja, Kano, and the North-East by the Boko Haram belligerent group, made Nigerians prefer Buhari.

As a former Head of State, many citizens believed he possessed the requisite pedigree to tackle the insurgency and other festering menaces in the country better than Jonathan, branded by many as “clueless.”

Waning popularity
The ICIR reports that given the country’s multidimensional and worsening insecurity, unprecedented division and hardship faced by most citizens under Buhari’s watch, the president’s popularity has dwindled, especially in the North, where he was much loved.

In January 2023, protesters barricaded roads in Kano State and reportedly stoned the president’s helicopter when taking off from the state to Abuja after an official visit. Kano is the hub of socio-economic activities in northern Nigeria.

There had been similar protests before and after the Kano rage.

In October 2020, Nigerians protested the brutality of a department of the Nigeria Police Force – the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

The protest snowballed into wanton killings, destruction, and looting of public and private property across the country.

The most significant episode of the killings was those reportedly carried out by the military at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos State.

In October 2022, the Central Bank of Nigeria announced the government’s decision to make the old N200, N500 and N1,000 notes cease to be legal tender.

The apex bank was to introduce new notes replacing the old ones on December 15 of that year.

Introducing the notes has, however, brought hardship to Nigerians because the new notes are very few in circulation.

The ICIR reported some of the pains Nigerians face in their bid to get the cash.

Protests have erupted in Lagos, Delta, Ondo, Oyo and other southern states, a few days to the 2023 general elections, scheduled for Saturday, February 25.

Besides, many lawyers believe the Buhari-led government’s insistence on implementing the policy has put the president in contempt of the Supreme Court, which ordered that the old notes co-exist with the new ones in the interim.
https://www.icirnigeria.org/buharis-tenure-ends-in-100-days/

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Politics / Ogun House Of Rep Member Dragged Into Illegal Seizure Of Voters’ Pvcs by Shehuyinka: 7:56pm On Feb 18
This report follows the stories of residents of Ogijo Town, Shagamu Local Government Area of Ogun state, who accused persons said to be working for ‘Ijaya,’ a federal lawmaker, of holding onto their PVCs slips. Olugbenga Adanikin, who visited the border town, reports.

*LASISI Omole was in his home in Ogijo, Shagamu Local Government Area (LGA) of Ogun State, when he got a notice on the early morning of July 5, 2021.

It was an offer to support the town’s residents who might be interested in registering their Permanent Voters Card (PVC). But the registration would have to take place at a location over 70 Kilometres (km) away from his residence in Ogun.

Despite the distance, he was excited.

That was because previous efforts to partake in his ward’s PVC registration process failed.

Still, he vowed to exercise his voting right in the forthcoming general election, not because it was a must. But, he realised it was an obligation and the opportunity to elect a new leader who would pilot the affairs of the state and the country.

The Presidential election is scheduled for February 25, while the Governorship and State Assembly is fixed for March 11.

The popular contenders at the presidential level are Bola Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos state and presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC); Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP); the former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, who is contesting under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and candidates of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Rabiu Kwakwaso.

Omole realised his determination might just be a wild goose chase, except he got registered and obtained his PVC.

Without a second thought, he jumped up and off to the meeting point where other interested persons in a similar situation had gathered – for the same purpose.

Meanwhile, the participants were offered N1,000 each upon their return from the registration centres, but their PVC slips were taken by the people who facilitated the free trip for the registration exercise.

Multiple sources confirmed to The ICIR that their voters’ registration slips were collected with the promise to get the PVCs and make them available in two weeks.

Since then, they were yet to get their PVCs, and the alleged persons have refused to respond to the aggrieved persons’ calls, nor have they provided them with any explanation on whether or not the victims would eventually get their PVCs.

“We asked for the slip, but the organiser promised to give us in two weeks. We expected it, I called him, but he did not return the slip,” Omole said.

“Up until now, he is still holding on to my right, my civil responsibility. People asked me about my PVC, but I don’t know what to tell them.”

“I am so ashamed.” He told The ICIR during a visit to the community.

Who is behind the Greek gift?
Earlier, a man, identified as ‘Alfa,’ was said to have been contacted by a notable individual in the town.

Alfa’s job was simple – to scout for persons in the category of Omole. That is, those who had tried registering for their PVCs but could not due to several reasons.

Based on field findings, Alfa was to persuade the victims while the people would reach out to more persons so they could all get registered for the PVCs. The people believed it was of good intentions.

Alfa’s number was subjected to a search on True caller, a mobile application used to identify unknown numbers; it displayed “Wale Vote Card.” This implied several persons must have saved the accused person’s name in that manner, or he did it himself.

Multiple sources who spoke to The ICIR said that the notable individual who they said contacted ‘Alfa’ was also engaged by Politically Exposed Persons (PEP) in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) state. He was described as Kunle Oloko. And the name ‘Ijaya’ repeatedly came up during interviews with other sources. She was said to have allegedly sponsored the trip alongside others for the registration exercise.

READ MORE HERE: https://www.icirnigeria.org/ogun-house-of-rep-member-dragged-into-illegal-seizure-of-voters-pvcs/

Health / North Korean Runs Illegal Hospital Patronised By The High And Mighty In Abuja by Shehuyinka: 2:04pm On Jan 31
A PRIVATE hospital run by a man, Jongsu Kim, who claims to be Chinese but is a North Korean, has been operating illegally in the heart of Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, for four years, The ICIR exclusively reports.

The hospital enjoys patronage from highly placed individuals, particularly public officials, including those who work in the presidency. Daily, officials in SUVs bearing FGN plate numbers and armed policemen drive in and out of the hospital premises.

A former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Michael Aondoakaa, is one of the leading figures said to be seeking medical care at the facility.

In addition to Aondoakaa, at least four lawyers who are Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) receive treatment at the hospital.

The ICIR’s checks showed that at least three other expatriates whose nationalities could not be verified because they refused to speak also work and live at the facility.

Kim, a doctor, leads the team. He also lives at the hospital. Clients pay for services the facility renders into Kim’s personal account rather than the hospital’s.

The hospital does not have a signboard. It did not have a bank account when the larger part of this investigation was carried out between June and October 2022 and does not pay tax to the government as required by law.

For instance, the hospital does not pay the “Pay As You Earn” (PAYE) tax to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Internal Revenue Service (IRS), even though it has Tax Identification Number 20913237. PAYE is the tax companies deduct from their employees’ salaries and remit to the government.

The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) said the Federal Government exempts hospitals and schools from taxes, but they must provide a report of their annual returns. The FIRS in Abuja said only the hospital could provide evidence of submission of the annual return report.

Asked how the hospital got its TIN, the FIRS said companies get TIN from the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) during registration.

The Private Health Establishments Registration and Monitoring Committee (PHERMC), a department in charge of private hospital registration and monitoring in the nation’s capital, confirmed to The ICIR that Lilu Hospital never applied for registration in city and runs illegally.

The hospital is also not in the Nigeria Health Facility Registry, where data on all health facilities in the country are domiciled.

Another observation by The ICIR is that only Kim comes out of the hospital in the daytime; his colleagues are usually indoors.

Kim drives an SUV with a diplomatic number plate, a privilege the Nigerian government accords only diplomats.

While Kim claims he is Chinese, the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) told The ICIR that the number plate on his vehicle belongs to the North Korean Embassy.

The Chinese Embassy does not know Kim and his hospital. Two spokespersons at the embassy, Huang Shuming and another who identified himself as Zhang, told The ICIR reporter they did not know Kim and his hospital.

They also said the number plate on his SUV did not belong to their embassy.

The North Korean Embassy refused to speak about the issue when contacted by The ICIR.

The reporter was at the North Korean Embassy in Abuja and met with one of the country’s nationals who put a call across to her superior.

The man, Kim, gave the reporter his phone number to send his request through Whatsapp.

READ MORE HERE: https://www.icirnigeria.org/how-north-korean-runs-illegal-hospital-patronised-by-the-high-and-mighty-in-abuja/

Business / Here Are 11 Nigerian Firms, Contractors Blacklisted By World Bank In 2022 by Shehuyinka: 10:27am On Jan 30
The World Bank blacklisted at least, 11 Nigerian firms and contractors in 2022, The ICIR can confidently report.

The affected organisations include Gitto Costruzioni Generali Nigeria Limited, Chez Aviv Nigeria Limited, Lutoyilex Construct Limited, Softech IT Solutions and Services Limited, ALG Global Concept Limited, and AIM Consultants Limited.

Other contractors banned by the Bank are Bamidele Obiniyi, Frank John Friday Nnaji, Isaiah Salihu Kantigi, Abuharaira Labaran, and Amin Moussalli.

Sanctioning contractors that breach the procurement guidelines of the World Bank is a usual occurrence the global bank does to promote transparency in contract awards and prevent procurement fraud among corporate entities it transacts business with.

The financial institution sanctions individuals or entities that go against its procurement policies by debarring them, sometimes, they are ‘cross debarred’.

An organisation or contractor is considered ‘crossly debarred‘ in this context when a member of the group of Development Financial Institutions (DFI) finds a contractor guilty of procurement fraud or related offences, and other members of the DFI decide to effect the same sanction on the firm.

It is called mutual enforcement. And this exists among the African Development Bank (AfDB), European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Inter-American Development Bank Group, and the World Bank Group.

Gitto’s case was of ‘cross debarment’ from the AfDB, and the sanction took effect on December 28, 2022.

The AfDB accused Gitto Costruzioni of ‘fraudulent and obstructive practices’ during the bid tendering for the contract award of the Bank’s Transport Sector Support Programme (Phase II).

The World Bank, due to the agreement among the DFIs, decided to enforce the same sanction on the firm.

It is worth noting that Gitto Costruzioni has executed notable projects in Nigeria, which included the National Ecumenical Centre, Abuja; Akwa Ibom International Airport, Akwa Ibom state, and the Central Bank of Nigeria, Yenagoa in Bayelsa state.

The apex bank has delisted it for the next four years for procurement-related offences.

The decision took effect following an investigation conducted by the Bank’s Integrity and Anti-corruption Office. The unit is responsible for preventing, deterring and investigating allegations of corruption, fraud and other sanctionable practices in the AfDB’s financed projects.

The firm’s ineligibility period is expected to end on September 9, 2026. Gitto is located at Plot 737, Mabushi District, in Abuja.

The contracts for which it was sanctioned included the rehabilitation of the Yaounde-Bafoussam-Babadjou road, the improvement of the Great Zambi-Kribi Road, and the improvement of the Maroua-Bogo-Pouss road.

The World Bank stated, “The rehabilitation of the Yaounde-Bafoussam-Babadjou Road, Improvement of the Great Zambi-Kribi Road is aimed to respond to the urgent need for further economic development in the poorest regions of Cameroon and the Far North and East regions.”

Contractors barred for nine years

By the sanction, the affected firms and individuals have been prohibited from participating in World Bank-financed contracts until October 3, 2031.

READ MORE HERE: https://www.icirnigeria.org/here-are-11-nigerian-firms-contractors-blacklisted-by-world-bank-in-2022/

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Politics / Does This Letter Show UK Government Investigating Alpha Beta? by Shehuyinka: 11:10am On Jan 28
A post circulating on social media shows a letter alleging that the United Kingdom National Crime Agency (NCA) is investigating a Lagos-based consulting firm Alpha Beta for a case of laundering money through British banks to suspected drug dealers in Columbia.

The alleged letter from NCA has been spotted by The ICIR on Twitter and Facebook.

A Twitter user, @BigChiefDamien has alleged, “More trouble for the presidential aspirant of the APC, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, as the UK National Crime Agency (NCA) begins investigating a case of money laundering by Alpha Beta through British banks to suspected drug dealers in Columbia.”

The post, which was posted on January 25 and archived here, has been viewed more than seventy-eight thousand (78K) times on Twitter, retweeted 699, 49 quoted tweets, 868 likes and 29 comments.

The claim, which was also posted by another Twitter user, @alumotis63, archived here, has been viewed more than one hundred thirty thousand (130.6k) and garnered 1179 retweets, 51 quoted tweets, 1762 likes and more than 54 comments.

Alpha-beta is a consulting firm handling the computation, tracking and reconciliation of Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) in Lagos State in return for a commission.

Alpha Beta, which has an exclusive right to collect funds on behalf of Lagos state, has been linked to the former Lagos Governor and 2023 Presidential candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

READ MORE HERE: https://www.icirnigeria.org/does-this-letter-show-uk-government-investigating-alpha-beta/

Politics / Nigerian Inmates In Ethiopian Prison Seek Repatriation by Shehuyinka: 10:22am On Jan 27
NIGERIAN inmates in Kaliti prison, a maximum security prison in Addis Abba, Ethiopia, have called on the Federal Government to facilitate their transfer to prisons in Nigeria.

The inmates are asking to be allowed to serve the rest of their jail terms in Nigeria.

The detainees said they suffer grave human rights abuses in prison.

There are over 200 Nigerians in the Ethiopian prison facility, some of whom are still awaiting trial.

In a letter addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari and the Nigerian embassy in Ethiopia, the inmates appealed to the Federal Government to come to their rescue.

They complained of starvation, lack of access to medical care, corporal and capital punishment, and overcrowding.

“The Nigerian inmates in Kaliti maximum prison Ethiopia are soliciting help from the Nigerian government; we ask that the government come to our aid urgently.

“We lack access to water, food and medical care.


“We are asking the government to intervene so we can serve the rest of our jail terms in Nigeria. Many of us have fallen ill due to malnourishment, the health infrastructure is weak, and inmates are suffering from precarious health issues,” parts of the letter read.

The inmates said communication with families and friends outside Ethiopia is impossible.

They expressed remorse for their actions and appealed for a “second chance at rehabilitation”.
https://www.icirnigeria.org/nigerian-inmates-in-ethiopian-prison-seek-repatriation/

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Politics / Ballot Or Bullet: Inside South-east Nigeria, Ahead Of 2023 Election by Shehuyinka: 1:54pm On Jan 26
DATELINE: Enugu, South-East Nigeria, Monday, January 9, 2023. It is the first working day of the week. Usually a busy day, especially for office workers. Normally, the roads would be bustling with vehicular and human traffic as residents went about their businesses. But by noon the roads are largely deserted. Only a few vehicles and tricycles (Keke) passed through the empty streets and major roads in Enugu metropolis.

Shops, schools, offices are closed. Residents are indoors.

Just a few people are out on the streets. Most of those who ventured out of their homes are dressed in sports wears – shorts, tracksuits, sneakers. The empty streets are ideal for jogging, walks and other forms of physical exercise.

It was like an extension of Sunday – a day when most offices, shops and markets remain closed as the predominantly Christian population of the South-East attend church services. But unlike Sundays, which are usually marked by a laid-back, easy feeling, there was tension in the air on this Monday, January 9.

The fitness buffs who were working out on the streets were watchful, ready to run for their lives at the slightest hint of trouble. Petty traders who opened for business, particularly sellers of okpa, a local delicacy, were wary. Those who ventured outside their homes know they are taking a major risk.

It is Monday. Sit-at-home day in the South-East
It was the same scenario in other major cities and towns across the five states of the South-East – Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo. Originally, the sit-at-home exercise was restricted to May 30, a day Biafra activists remember those who died in the Civil War.

Mondays were eventually declared as a day for sit-at-home protest across the South-East after the arrest and detention of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), the proscribed pro-Biafra group which is sharing control of the zone with the state governments.

The sit-at-home was also extended to days Kanu appear in court for proceedings in terrorism and treason charges filed against him by the Federal Government. With time, enforcement of the sit-at-home turned it into a bloody affair – residents who venture out of their homes or engage in business or social activities on the day risk losing lives and property.

Although Emma Powerful, IPOB spokesperson, has announced that the sit-at-home had been suspended, the exercise is still in force through orders issued by Simon Ekpa, a Finland-based self described Kanu disciple and ‘IPOB spokesperson’, reputed to be the leader of the ‘IPOB Autopilots’ who appear to have taken charge of the group since Kanu’s arrest.

The ICIR’s reporter, who moved around Enugu to monitor the sit-at-home on January 9, observed that although a few intra-city buses and Keke were available to convey passengers to destinations within the metropolis, there were no vehicles to transport residents to far locations within and outside the state.

At the Holy Ghost area, the major transportation hub in Enugu metropolis, none of the inter-state transport operators opened for business. Some prospective travellers, who hoped to travel outside the state, were frustrated. No vehicle was available to convey them to their destinations. It was the same situation in Abia, Ebonyi, Imo and Anambra. The entire South-East was literally on lockdown.

Dateline: Finland. Monday, January 9, 2023. 11:24 am. In far away Finland, Simon Ekpa posted a video from the ongoing sit-at-home in southeastern Nigeria on Twitter via his handle @simon_ekpa.

The video, posted under the caption ‘Those preparing to force Biafrans into validating a terrorist state in February 2023, this is what await you’, showed empty shops and stalls at one of the major markets in the South-East. The video appeared to have been shot that same day and was posted to illustrate the ‘success’ of the January 9 sit-at-home exercise. A voice which ran a commentary in the video described the day’s sit-at-home as “very tight, very solid, and awesome”.

‘No election in South-East’
There will be no election in the South-East, the voice in the video stressed, warning residents of the region not to come out during the election period, to avoid being killed by the “military”. The killings in the South-East have been blamed on ‘unknown gunmen’, who the security agencies say are members of IPOB and its military wing, the Eastern Security Network (ESN). But the voice in the video claimed that the security agencies of the Nigerian government are behind the killings.

The voice in the video said: “Let everyone be notified, as you have been notified before, let no one come out. There’s no election in Biafraland (South-East). Don’t come out and don’t be killed by the military. Because if you come out they will kill you too. So don’t come out. There’s no election in Biafraland. Thank you for sitting at home.”

In an earlier Twitter post at 10:36 am, on the same day, Ekpa posted images of empty shops and streets, under the caption: ‘Monday sit at home update for Biafra liberation & release of MNK (Mazi Nnamdi Kanu) today, 9th of January 2023. Biafraland remain under lockdown.”

However, although Ekpa is insisting that there will be no election in the South-East, official IPOB spokesperson Emma Powerful has distanced the group from the directive.

IPOB has nothing against election – Spokesperson
In an interview with The ICIR, Powerful said: “IPOB has nothing against the Nigerian election and we have made it clear in our previous press releases that we are not interested on Nigeria’s selection process. And we are not not declaring sit- at- home.” He added that anybody who says IPOB don’t want election in the South-East “is an enemy of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and the Biafra struggle”.

The Nigerian government has continued to blame IPOB for the killings and other forms of violence in the South-East, including attacks on facilities of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). But Powerful said the government is sponsoring the insecurity in the region just to frame the group as a terrorist organisation. The Federal Government designated IPOB as a terrorist organisation after a court proscribed the group on September 21, 2017.

“Those trying to create confusion during the forthcoming elections in Nigeria are criminals and cultists recruited by the same Nigerian government to implicate IPOB and ESN. If we had wanted to stop elections we would have done that during the time of PVC registration but we didn’t do that. We never called for boycott because our strategy is to boycott election, not to stop election,” Powerful added, stressing that the group is a liberation movement that would not stop a democratic process.

READ MORE HERE: https://www.icirnigeria.org/ballot-or-bullet-inside-south-east-nigeria-ahead-of-2023-election/

Business / Cry Freedom – Nigeria | Death By Tax Collector by Shehuyinka: 10:51am On Jan 23
AT 2 AM on March 28, 2022 Olanrewaju Suraju, the head of the Human and Environmental Development Agency (HEDA), was asleep beside his wife in their bedroom in Abuja when they suddenly found themselves under attack by men who had broken into the house.

The men, who made off with laptops, mobile phones, and cash, could have been mistaken for ordinary criminals were it not for the fact that they mysteriously told the couple that they were ‘acting on information and instruction.’

Nigerian burglars recently appear to have developed a taste for targeting social justice activists. Houses are robbed, but the thieves also make a point of severely beating their victims too.

Suraju, an activist whose organisation is involved in a long-running battle with the Ministry of Justice over corruption involving one of Nigeria’s rich oil blocks, was a very vocal activist.

The attack against him and his wife was so vicious that it left both of them in the hospital.

Plain-clothed thugs
One month before the attack on the Suraju family, plain-clothed thugs had attacked activists on their way to a court hearing. Again victims were severely beaten and their phones and money were stolen.

A month before that, a similar group targeted Omoyele Sowore, initiator of the protest movement ‘RevolutionNow’ and publisher of the critical online news site Sahara Reporters.

He was also on his way to a court case. Afterwards, Sowore said, a source in the State Security Services (SSS) had told him that the attack had been ordered by them.

He also recalled that the same men had attacked him during a scuffle at an earlier protest, while SSS operatives and police had prevented his escape.

‘We were alerted that one ‘Ali from Kano’ was leading a mob towards us’

Deji Adeyanju, an associate of Sowore who was himself once beaten so badly by vigilantes during a peaceful protest that he was hospitalised in a life-threatening condition, also says that sources in the SSS confirmed that the agency is behind the attacks.

‘They alerted us before the attack on us that one “Ali from Kano” was “leading a mob” towards us. As they were beating us, I mentioned this name, and it seemed to shake them, as if their secret had been exposed. Intelligence operatives in Nigeria now, whenever they can’t come out against anti-government elements openly, they hire thugs who go after them, both online and offline,’ says Adeyanju. ‘The leadership of this SSS goes after civil society instead of gathering intelligence on Boko Haram.’

Though Adeyanju formally reported the assault to the Inspector General of Police in December 2019, the police authorities have yet to make any arrests or publish an investigative report on the case. The same is true for the attack on Olanrewaju Suraju and his wife.

‘The police showed no interest at all’, Suraju says, ‘even when we tracked one of my phones, which was activated by the assailants and gave details of its location. The same authorities who use thugs to attack activists are in firm control of even institutions where victims are supposed to seek redress.’

In a joint statement about the attack, five prominent Nigerian organisations active in the fields of human rights, transparency, anti-corruption and media stated their belief that the attack was aimed at stopping Suraju’s activism.

Oppressive tactics
The recent uptick in violence against activists began in 2020 when organised protests against corruption and human rights abuses were gaining momentum amid a global wave of protests caused in part by the effects of COVID-19 restrictions on people’s lives and livelihoods. At the time the state security forces responded to these protests with a wave of oppressive tactics which have continued to date (see box).

On August 18 2020, amid the growing unrest, the head of the Human Rights Writers Association (HURIWA), Emmanuel Onwubuiko was among the first to go underground.

At the time he had been in the midst of an investigation into corruption at the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, where officials appeared to have embezzled 500 million Naira (around US$1.1 million) meant for children’s school lunches.

Onwubuiko made the difficult decision to relocate his family after being followed home by a Toyota Camry driven by ‘a fierce-looking person, with about two other armed occupants’ while driving in Abuja on the evening of August 18 2020.

Meanwhile, his work eventually led to an investigation by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), a statutory agency that formally probes corruption, but so far the commission hasn’t published any report.

READ MORE HERE: https://www.icirnigeria.org/cry-freedom-nigeria-death-by-tax-collector/

Politics / Atiku May Lose Big In G5 States In 2023 Presidential Election by Shehuyinka: 10:29am On Jan 23
THE Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate in the February presidential election, Atiku Abubakar, may lose a significant number of votes if the party fails to resolve its internal crisis before the 2023 election.

As the election draws nearer, The ICIR takes a closer look at the number of votes gathered by the PDP in the 2019 elections in the G5 states.

PDP and Abubakar are still battling it out with the G5 integrity group over the retention of Iyiorcha Ayu as the party’s national chairman.

The five governors that make up the G-5 – Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Ifeanyi Ugwanyi (Enugu), Samuel Ortom (Benue), and Nyesom Wike (Rivers) – are insisting that Ayu, a northerner like Abubakar, be removed as chairman if the party must have their support and votes in the presidential election.

The governors maintain it would be politically immoral for the party to pick both its national chairman and presidential candidate for the February election from the North.

In the 2019 general elections, the five states produced 1,772,729 votes for the PDP, representing 15.7 per cent of Abubakar’s votes in the 2019 presidential election.

The breakdown of the votes showed that Wike’s Rivers State delivered 473,971 votes for PDP, representing 71 per cent of the votes in the state.

The total number of votes cast in the state was 666,585.

In Enugu state, the party gathered 355,553 out of the 451,063 votes cast there, which was 78.8 per cent of the total votes.

In Oyo state, it was a close battle between Abubakar and Muhammadu Buhari. However, he was able to garner 366,690 votes out of 891,080, or 41.2 per cent of the total votes cast for the PDP.

Benue and Abia states produced 356,817 and 219,698 votes respectively for Abubakar, representing 46.7 per cent and 62 per cent of the votes in the two states.


The number of registered voters in the five states, according to 2022 data released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is 13,471,789.

The breakdown showed that Abia, Benue, Enugu, Oyo, and Rivers states had 1,990,544; 2,693,303; 2,117,472; 3,137,480; and 3,532,990 respectively.

The figures imply an increase in number of registered voters and a remarkable expectation of voter turnout in the 2023 general elections, which makes it a big deal for any party hoping to win the election.

As the country prepares for another election, Abubakar will be contending with the rebellion of the five governors in his quest to realise his life-long ambition of becoming president of Nigeria.

Although the G5 governors have maintained their membership of the PDP, saying they would not defect, they have also remained unwavering in their words against Ayu’s chairmanship of the PDP and their intention to work against Abubakar in the presidential election.

Well, with Ayu not intending to step down anytime soon as PDP chairman, the aggrieved governors have also not been appearing in Abubakar’s campaign since the party flagged it off last year.

https://www.icirnigeria.org/atiku-may-lose-big-in-g5-states-in-2023-presidential-election/

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Politics / There's A Proposed System To Stop Vote Buying, Can It Work? by Shehuyinka: 10:13am On Jan 23
IN the last Ekiti state governorship election, the Centre for Democracy and Development, CDD, said its field observers documented 41 voting buying and selling cases at polling units across six LGAs.

These voters are offered a sum under a "See and Pay" fraud, in which a voter displays the thumb-printed ballot to a party agent standing by a polling booth.

Political pundits have said the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) machine that was introduced in 2021 can help reduce election rigging, and parties will resort to vote buying. The ICIR reported multiple cases of vote buying in Ekiti and Osun elections. Vote buying did not start with the introduction of the BVAS. This has led to different concercens stakeholders offering solutions.

Recently, a Twitter user, Nicholas Musa, has suggested modifying the voting process to curb the rise of the practice in elections.

In a Twitter thread posted using on the handle @Nichmusa, Musa advised that the INEC merge the voting cubicle and the ballot box.

To do this, INEC will create a slot that can only fit the ballot slip on the cubicle. And place the ballot box underneath. With this, thumbprinting and vote-casting are in the same spot.

The entire process is enclosed and, according to Musa, eliminates the role of the 'spotter.'

The 'spotter' is a party agent who confirms the candidate an electorate has voted for and signals an accomplice to finalise the exchange.

Musa said the spotter is the most vital agent whose role INEC can eliminate by this modification.

Musa told The ICIR that this proposed system tackles vote buying while incurring little or no cost.

"All that is needed has been procured or is already available. I'm only suggesting we switch the process. There is nothing extra to be procured.

"The only work required is sensitisation and an update to the training of Adhoc staff," he said.

READ MORE HERE: https://www.icirnigeria.org/theres-a-proposed-system-to-curb-vote-buying-can-it-work/

Politics / Education Ministry's Hqtrs To Spend N25.8m On Meals, Refreshments In 2023 by Shehuyinka: 4:01pm On Jan 19
THE Federal Ministry of Education headquarters in Abuja will be spending N25.8 million on meals and refreshments this year, as approved in the Federal Government's budget signed by President Muhammadu Buhari on January 3.

The ministry will also be spending N367 million on local and international travels during the year.

The ministry has a share of N1.076 trillion from the government's N21.8 trillion for the year.

In addition to the meals and refreshments budget, there is another N49.65 million for welfare packages for the ministry.

The ministry's headquarters will be paying N35.52 million on security charges and N36.4 million on cleaning and fumigation services. It will spend N2 million on sewage charges.

It will also be paying N42.2 to cover motor vehicle fuel costs, N5 million for other transport equipment, and another N34 million for fueling its plants and generators.

Besides, the ministry's headquarters has an approved budget of N6.2 million for telephone charges, N6.1 million for internet, and N5 million for water rate.

Meanwhile, the Federal Ministry of Health, which shares the same building with the Education ministry, has almost the size of the Education ministry's budget, at N1.07 trillion.

READ MORE HERE: https://www.icirnigeria.org/education-ministrys-hqtrs-to-spend-over-n25-8m-on-meals-refreshments-in-2023/

Food / Who Invented Jollof Rice? by Shehuyinka: 1:42pm On Jan 19
By Fatima Fall Niang, Université Gaston Berger

The authorship – and therefore origins – of jollof rice (called ceebu jën in Senegal according to the Wolof spelling) is the subject of a spicy debate between West African nations. In particular, Senegalese, Nigerians and Ghanaians claim ownership. And each believes their recipe surpasses all others.

In a bid to settle the issue we explored the subject in our book. In it we point out the “Senegality” of this dish. The word jollof refers to an ancient kingdom that was a part of Senegal between the 12th and the 13th centuries.

More broadly, we found that the origin of the dish is linked to a particular period in history – the entrenchment of colonial rule in West Africa. Between 1860 and 1940 the French colonisers replaced existing food crops with broken rice imported from Indochina.

In time, broken rice came to be much more prized by the Senegalese than whole rice grain.

This was followed by what we call le ceebu jën, un patrimoine bien sénégalais – the genius of the natives, especially the Saint-Louisians who set about creating something completely new. Ceebu jën consists of rice and fish, accompanied by vegetables and sometimes tomatoes.

As it happens in history, when an art reaches a certain fame or notoriety, its paternity becomes an object of controversy. This is what has indeed happened with jollof rice.

Colonial legacy

The first act of the settlers was to make all those disconnected from agricultural activities dependent on rice. This included the men and women who had come to try to make their fortune in the markets of Saint-Louis, one of the gateways to the West and, for a good period, the capital of French West Africa.

If we add teachers, various agents of the administration and the military, we can better understand the pernicious process of rice promotion.

Overflowing in urban centres, rice was consumed in practically all of the colony of Senegal.

The success of the rice promotion strategy resulted in the entrenchment of an economy that became increasingly dependent on crops preferred by the colonisers. To this day efforts continue to be made to grow rice in Casamance and the Saint-Louis region.

At the same time, the exploitation of the market garden areas of Niayes and Gandiol contributed to meeting the population’s need for vegetables.

Another intriguing part of the history of the dish is the myth that’s developed over centuries around the role of a Senegalese cook called Penda Mbaye who is regularly attached to the name of rice with fish.

Although no one disputes the connection between the dish and Penda Mbaye, serious information on her identity, on the place and time she lived and on the conditions in which the dish was created is cruelly lacking. This is why we have stated in our book that she left history very quickly to take her place in legend.

Why the passion?

To understand the importance of ceebu jën in the diet and imagination of the Senegalese, it would be wise to point out that its attractiveness can’t be reduced to its nutritional value or its intrinsic delicacy.

This culinary art is closely linked to a know-how and a way of life. Thus, the consumption of the dish is strongly linked to the ceremonial – the aesthetics of the presentation and the service.

The women of Saint Louis, a port city in the northern part of Senegal, are singularly credited with remarkable know-how in this area. Their finesse and elegance is expressed in the way they dress, their speech and their gestures. All are put to good use so that the meal is a moment when they give pleasure by being pleased themselves.

READ MORE HERE: https://www.icirnigeria.org/who-invented-jollof-rice/

Politics / N77trn Debt: Each Nigerian To Owe N384,864 By End Of Buhari’s Tenure by Shehuyinka: 9:28pm On Jan 18
Every Nigerian will be owing N384,864 each when President Muhammadu Buhari leaves office in May 2023, with the country’s debt profile expected to spiral to N77 trillion by then.

The Debt Management Office (DMO) has projected that government’s persistent borrowings would see President Muhammadu Buhari leave a humongous debt of N77 trillion behind for the incoming administration.

Patience Oniha, who heads the agency, said at a public presentation on January 4, 2023 on the 2023 budget at the National Assembly that new borrowings of ₦10.57 trillion was captured in the 2023 budget.

If divided by an official exchange rate put at N422 to an American dollar, 200 million Nigerians would have inherited N384,864 debt per person when the current administration winds down.

Available data showed that 73 per cent of internal debt, which is about 60 per cent of the total debt stock, is government bond, saving bonds, treasury bills, Sukuk and Green bonds.

Of internal debts, 2.3 per cent is government’s promissory notes to companies issued export expansion grant.

With the rising deficit in the budget, industry analysts posit that whoever takes over from President Buhari has tough choices to make on the economy, with the 2023 budget designed as a deficit document to be funded by borrowing.

“There is a strong link between ballooning debt, weak exchange rate and Nigeria’s rising hyper inflation. This is already taking its toll on Nigeria’s assesment by global rating agencies like Fitch and Moody. The worst of it all is that indigenous companies quoted on the Nigeria Exchange Limited are also donwgraded,” a development economist, Kelvin Emmanuel, told The ICIR.

READ MORE HERE: https://www.icirnigeria.org/n77trn-debt-each-nigerian-to-owe-n384864-by-end-of-buharis-tenure/

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