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Law As Football – :::…The Tide News Online:::… – The Tide

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An old idiom which describes law as an ass, sends a wise message which would not fail to make an appropriate impression on individuals who can discern human shenanigans. Page 2 of The Tide newspaper of Friday, September 24, 2021, carried a headline news” “FG Considers Fresh Charges Against Igboho”. Oyo State High Court awarded N20 billion damages in favour of Igboho, against the Federal Government, arising from an action of the Department of State Services (DSS).
The news report said that the judge, Ladiran Akintola, had awarded the money as “an exemplary and aggravated damages” against the AGF and the Department of State Services, over the invasion of Igboho’s home in Ibadan on July 1. In a reaction to that judgement, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, speaking in faraway New York, said that FG may file fresh charges against Igboho. The position of the Federal Government on the judgement was about law and jurisdiction.
In the words of the AGF “As far as this matter is concerned, which court is it that has the jurisdiction to determine it?” Surely, within the context of obedience to court orders, there are associated rights and interests that are vested in the Federal Government. Apart from rights of appealing against that Oyo State High Court judgement, the AGF made other allusions. They include “right to file an application for setting aside the purported judgement” and “possibility of filing a fresh action”, including the jurisdiction of the court that gave that judgement.
The fact that Malami made statement on the Oyo State High Court judgement from New York means that the Igboho issue is not confined within Nigeria. What is the grouse of the Federal Government of Nigeria against Sunday Igboho? He is referred to as an agitator, wanting to split the unity of Nigeria. Invasion of Igboho’s house at night by security agencies resulted in the loss of a human life, but Igboho could not be arrested there and then.
While Malami was speaking in New York on the judgement of an Oyo State High Court that awarded N20 billion in favour of Igboho, there were other agitators insisting on a protest at the United Nations General Assembly, on September 24. Chairman of Nigerian Indigenous Nationalities Alliance for Self-Determination (NINA), Professor Banji Akintoye, spoke for various Nigerian agitators in diaspora. There were Yoruba and Biafra agitators as well as Middle-Belt groups insisting that the Federal Government would not stop their protest at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.
There was an allegation that the Federal Government of Nigeria planned to sponsor a counter-protest, but a vital question to ask is: What is “Million-Man Freedom March” all about? Why agitations from various quarters under NINAS? In the catalogue of the complaints of the agitators are that “the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria was a fraud against the people of South and Middle-Belt”; that “a Fulani militia group masquerading as a trade union, Miyyetii Allah, should be declared as a terrorist organisation”.
There was a news report that “The Grand Finale of the NINAS Million-Man Freedom March holds on September 24, 2021, the day President Muhammadu Buhari will be addressing the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly”. The goal was to “show before the world the crimes against humanity, attacks on press freedom, free speech and other criminalities being aided by the Muhammadu Buhari-led government of Nigeria”.
NINAS Director of Public Communications, Mr Maxwell Adeleye, was quoted as saying that, “no matter how the Nigerian Government try to scuttle the NINAS Grand March, the will of the people shall prevail”. He went on to say: “We refuse to be rattled. We shall not be intimidated. No oppressor has ever triumphed against the collective will of the people…” The international community is being told by the agitators that there is a “rape of our ancestral land and hijack of our assets and sovereignty by the Fulani-controlled Nigerian Government”.
Current agitations in Nigeria by various ethnic nationalities would call attention to past experiences in apartheid South Africa, when courts and security agencies were partners in oppressive practices. A situation where decisions and judgements of courts would turn legal institutions into the status of an ass or a football, portends ill for human freedom. Like the VAT issue, would the judgement of Oyo State High Court; awarding Igboho N20 billion damages, become an issue of appeals, litigations, interpretations and intimidations? Why threat of fresh charges against Igboho because a court awarded him N20 billion damages? Agitation can become a treasonable offence!
In the early days of formation of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States of America, some of the activities of its operatives resulted in litigations and award of damages in favour of the litigants. If in Nigeria we continue to have litigations involving “exemplary and aggravated damages” in which the Federal Government would have to pay some billions of naira to litigants, perhaps our security agencies would be less combative in their operatives. Unfortunately, court judgements which go against the establishment can be taken as brazen affronts.
Recent experiences with regards to judgements involving political litigations give us the impression that the law can be interpreted and treated like a football. A football is for everybody, players and non-players alike, yet, it is for nobody, in the sense that it can be kicked about by anybody, inside and outside a football field. Without going into various allegations made against several administrators of the legal system, at least gossips are many about judgements that conflict one with another. Judgements have been known to be written at night and sometimes under gun-point or threats.
Rising agitations coming from various ethnic groups in Nigeria have become such that they should not be addressed by threats, intimidations, or swept aside as irrelevant. The Guardian newspaper of Friday, 13 June, 2008, published an open letter by Ethnic Nationalities Movement, a part of which read: “We of the Ethnic Nationalities Movement say with emphasis that Nigeria will not be re-colonised either by foreigners or by gangster leaders”.
By: Bright Amirize
Dr Amirize is a retired lecturer from the Rivers State University, Port Harcourt.
That Abu Dhabi Exposé
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An old idiom which describes law as an ass, sends a wise message which would not fail to make an appropriate impression on individuals who can discern human shenanigans. Page 2 of The Tide newspaper of Friday, September 24, 2021, carried a headline news” “FG Considers Fresh Charges Against Igboho”. Oyo State High Court awarded N20 billion damages in favour of Igboho, against the Federal Government, arising from an action of the Department of State Services (DSS).
The news report said that the judge, Ladiran Akintola, had awarded the money as “an exemplary and aggravated damages” against the AGF and the Department of State Services, over the invasion of Igboho’s home in Ibadan on July 1. In a reaction to that judgement, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, speaking in faraway New York, said that FG may file fresh charges against Igboho. The position of the Federal Government on the judgement was about law and jurisdiction.
In the words of the AGF “As far as this matter is concerned, which court is it that has the jurisdiction to determine it?” Surely, within the context of obedience to court orders, there are associated rights and interests that are vested in the Federal Government. Apart from rights of appealing against that Oyo State High Court judgement, the AGF made other allusions. They include “right to file an application for setting aside the purported judgement” and “possibility of filing a fresh action”, including the jurisdiction of the court that gave that judgement.
The fact that Malami made statement on the Oyo State High Court judgement from New York means that the Igboho issue is not confined within Nigeria. What is the grouse of the Federal Government of Nigeria against Sunday Igboho? He is referred to as an agitator, wanting to split the unity of Nigeria. Invasion of Igboho’s house at night by security agencies resulted in the loss of a human life, but Igboho could not be arrested there and then.
While Malami was speaking in New York on the judgement of an Oyo State High Court that awarded N20 billion in favour of Igboho, there were other agitators insisting on a protest at the United Nations General Assembly, on September 24. Chairman of Nigerian Indigenous Nationalities Alliance for Self-Determination (NINA), Professor Banji Akintoye, spoke for various Nigerian agitators in diaspora. There were Yoruba and Biafra agitators as well as Middle-Belt groups insisting that the Federal Government would not stop their protest at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.
There was an allegation that the Federal Government of Nigeria planned to sponsor a counter-protest, but a vital question to ask is: What is “Million-Man Freedom March” all about? Why agitations from various quarters under NINAS? In the catalogue of the complaints of the agitators are that “the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria was a fraud against the people of South and Middle-Belt”; that “a Fulani militia group masquerading as a trade union, Miyyetii Allah, should be declared as a terrorist organisation”.
There was a news report that “The Grand Finale of the NINAS Million-Man Freedom March holds on September 24, 2021, the day President Muhammadu Buhari will be addressing the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly”. The goal was to “show before the world the crimes against humanity, attacks on press freedom, free speech and other criminalities being aided by the Muhammadu Buhari-led government of Nigeria”.
NINAS Director of Public Communications, Mr Maxwell Adeleye, was quoted as saying that, “no matter how the Nigerian Government try to scuttle the NINAS Grand March, the will of the people shall prevail”. He went on to say: “We refuse to be rattled. We shall not be intimidated. No oppressor has ever triumphed against the collective will of the people…” The international community is being told by the agitators that there is a “rape of our ancestral land and hijack of our assets and sovereignty by the Fulani-controlled Nigerian Government”.
Current agitations in Nigeria by various ethnic nationalities would call attention to past experiences in apartheid South Africa, when courts and security agencies were partners in oppressive practices. A situation where decisions and judgements of courts would turn legal institutions into the status of an ass or a football, portends ill for human freedom. Like the VAT issue, would the judgement of Oyo State High Court; awarding Igboho N20 billion damages, become an issue of appeals, litigations, interpretations and intimidations? Why threat of fresh charges against Igboho because a court awarded him N20 billion damages? Agitation can become a treasonable offence!
In the early days of formation of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States of America, some of the activities of its operatives resulted in litigations and award of damages in favour of the litigants. If in Nigeria we continue to have litigations involving “exemplary and aggravated damages” in which the Federal Government would have to pay some billions of naira to litigants, perhaps our security agencies would be less combative in their operatives. Unfortunately, court judgements which go against the establishment can be taken as brazen affronts.
Recent experiences with regards to judgements involving political litigations give us the impression that the law can be interpreted and treated like a football. A football is for everybody, players and non-players alike, yet, it is for nobody, in the sense that it can be kicked about by anybody, inside and outside a football field. Without going into various allegations made against several administrators of the legal system, at least gossips are many about judgements that conflict one with another. Judgements have been known to be written at night and sometimes under gun-point or threats.
Rising agitations coming from various ethnic groups in Nigeria have become such that they should not be addressed by threats, intimidations, or swept aside as irrelevant. The Guardian newspaper of Friday, 13 June, 2008, published an open letter by Ethnic Nationalities Movement, a part of which read: “We of the Ethnic Nationalities Movement say with emphasis that Nigeria will not be re-colonised either by foreigners or by gangster leaders”.
By: Bright Amirize
Dr Amirize is a retired lecturer from the Rivers State University, Port Harcourt.
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Last year, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was reported to have convicted six Nigerian bureau de change operators for their involvement in the transfer of $782,000 from Dubai through undercover proxies in Nigeria to finance Boko Haram insurgency between 2015 and 2016 .
The government in Abu Dhabi had written to encourage Abuja uncover two of these proxies, noting that one of them is believed to be a top government official. The convicts were among 47 individuals and corporate bodies arraigned in Abu Dhabi, the country’s capital.
Nigeria is not more Islamic than UAE. And even as the Arab nation is not known to be under any terrorist attack, she appears to have taken a more serious anti-terrorist stance – arresting and promptly prosecuting people who merely engaged in financial transfers to international terror groups.
Since 2009, Nigeria has been in the throes of insurgency by the terrorist Boko Haram group, leading to the sacking of many peaceful communities across the North East. The Islamist group which detests Western education had in 2014 abducted about 276 girls from the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Borno State. While some were released after a year, a little less than half the number still remains in captivity. Four years later, a similar fate befell some girls of Government Girls Science and Technical School in Dapchi, Yobe State. Of all the students herded away in that early morning raid, only Leah Sharibu is still held back on account of her refusal to renounce her Christian faith.
Boko Haram has over the years spread its influence from the Lake Chad area to entrench itself in Nigeria’s Sambisa Forest from where it harasses communities in the BAY states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe. In fact, it was once reported that the terrorist group controlled no fewer than 27 local council areas in these states. There was also a time residents of Abuja felt its long reach, as evidenced by the United Nations Office and Nyanya bombings.
Boko Haram leader, Muhammadu Yusuf, was said to have been captured by Nigerian military forces in the early years of the insurgency and handed over to internal security agencies but had reportedly died in detention. His death was not investigated, raising suspicion that he may have been silenced by some powerful persons who feared that he might squeal on them.
On the day of his inauguration, President Buhari had in his acceptance speech directed the military command head office of the counter-insurgency operations to relocate from Abuja to Maiduguri. Expectedly, Nigerians had cheered in the hope that, coming from an ex-Army General, such move would help to achieve a quick and decisive routing of the fundamentalist group. But after six years, how far?
It has never been in doubt that Boko Haram collaborators abound in the Nigerian military and other security forces. This is just as there are politicians and wealthy businessmen who are covertly sponsoring the insurgents. Recall that in 2011, Senator Ali Ndume of Bornu South was quizzed by security agents after a suspected Boko Haram spokesman, Ali Konduga, alleged that the senator paid him to send threatening text messages to some judges and top politicians. Ndume simply denied the allegation and was let go.
The only thing that has remained shrouded is whether or not a link exists between terrorism and the wide spreading banditry in the land. Equally unclear is the reason for government’s reluctance to prosecute suspected terrorists and bandits. For instance, the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation has continued to drag its feet over the arraignment of about 800 suspected insurgents. At a point, it found valid excuse in the recent judiciary workers strike. But the courts have since reopened and only heaven knows why the process is still on hold.
Countries that are serious with tackling terrorism go to any length to achieve their objective. For example, President George W. Bush had in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the US addressed the nation thus:
“Tonight, we are a country awakened to danger and called to defend freedom. Our grief has turned to anger, and anger to resolution. Whether we bring our enemies to justice, or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done.”
And has justice been done! At least, with the elimination of Osama bin Laden, the al Qaeda leader and suspected mastermind of the attacks, along with most of his top lieutenants by American forces.
Even long before him, in 1942, shortly after Japan bombed Pearl Harbour – prompting America to join World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt had authorised that Japanese-Americans resident on the Pacific West Coast be processed and moved to internment camps located inland. The US Supreme Court was said to have upheld this constitutional violation. However, after about five decades, the Congress did render public apologies in 1988 while also voting reparation to surviving victims.
Apart from its recent sale of six A-29 Super Tucano jets to Nigeria, the US government was also said to have indicated its willingness to release to the latter a list of those funding Boko Haram. Mary Leonard is the US ambassador in Nigeria. She recently came short of expressing her frustration with some government officials in Abuja after more than three meetings to finalise discussions on this issue.
Nigerians have since clamoured for the names of suspected sponsors of Boko Haram to be made public, including the 400 whom Malami said he was going to prosecute about five months ago. But Mr. President will hear none of that. His media aide, Femi Adeshina, said the government was not interested in ‘naming and shaming’ any suspects but would rather investigate and prosecute them.
Good talk, Mr. Adeshina. Maybe the CBN has also decided to suspend its threat to ‘name and shame’ those who misapplied their forex purchases. Or have we not heard AMCON and some banks threaten to ‘name and shame’ customers with non-performing loans? What’s more, suspected armed robbers, kidnappers and other criminals are being paraded in front of media cameras every day. Who really is protecting Nigerians’ killers and their sponsors?
By: Ibelema Jumbo
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As Nigeria celebrates her national day, we celebrate our enduring bilateral partnership with the continent’s regional, political, and economic powerhouse.
We appreciate Nigeria’s leadership in the region, standing up for the integrity of democratic nations in West Africa. Nigeria was among the first to condemn the recent coup in Guinea, regularly recognises the need for presidential term limits, and supports its best and brightest to serve in the highest ranks of international organisations – most recently demonstrated by Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu’s recent appointment to Assistant Director-General at the World Health Organization (WHO).
The COVID-19 pandemic showed us all that global challenges require global solutions. Our mission team partnered with Nigeria to tackle COVID-19 to save lives, promote economic recovery, and develop resilience as our experts worked side-by-side with the Presidential Task Force, Federal Ministry of Health, and the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
We provided more than four million doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Nigeria and contributed more than $84.2 million in COVID-related equipment and technical assistance, including a mobile field hospital, 200 ventilators, and personal protective equipment. Additional vaccine donations are in the works. We conducted epidemiological COVID detection surveys, provided rapid response teams, trained over 200,000 military and civilian personnel on COVID-19 control measures, and transferred technology for virtual training.
Through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), supporting Nigeria since 2004, the U.S. government now is providing life saving treatment to over 1.5 million of Nigeria’s estimated 1.8 million people living with HIV and remains committed to closing the gap to reaching HIV epidemic control by 2023.
We also recognise that security and economic concerns weigh on the minds of all Nigerians. We work in solidarity with the Nigerian government to address those challenges together. Diplomacy, development, public health, and defence have long been pillars that provide the foundation for promoting and protecting U.S. national security interests abroad. Our bilateral relationship is strong and based on such mutual interests.
We share the Nigerian government’s recognition that, indeed, military aid will not be the exclusive tool to end insecurity in the country. A “whole of government” approach is required to protect citizens and stabilise the country. And, indeed, all Nigerians have a role to play in improving security.
We have a long-standing partnership with the Nigerian military and the Nigerian police that consists of advising, training, exercises, education, and military systems and equipment, all of which are encompassed in the historic A-29 Super Tucano sale. These engagements emphasise the skills and processes that are critical to shaping effective militaries.
The United States supports Nigeria’s economic growth and its mutually beneficial trade with the U.S. through both private sector engagement and government-supported initiatives – such as the West Africa Trade and Investment Hub, Prosper Africa, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, and the Foreign Commercial Service. The U.S. is proud to be the largest humanitarian donor in Nigeria, providing $1.45 billion since 2015, and supporting an estimated two million conflict-affected households in the north. The U.S. is looking forward to expanding on these economic relationships in the future.
We commend Nigeria on its efforts to encourage dialogue and transparency at all levels of governance and continue to partner with Nigeria on efforts to improve its governing capacity. We are focused on strengthening Nigeria’s democratic processes and institutions and encouraging freedom of information, including efforts to enforce accountability through credible and transparent elections.
USAID’s partnerships with the federal and state governments, 200 civil society organisations, and the private sector are fulfilling these goals – by improving the electoral process, strengthening civil society advocacy for a more transparent government, reinforcing the role of local peace committees to resolve conflict, and supporting transparency and service delivery improvements.
The Mission takes pride in its extensive people-to-people engagement fostering bridges between our two nations. Last year the Migration Policy Institute noted that Nigerians in the U.S. are the most highly educated immigrant population in the United States, with 61 percent holding at least a bachelor’s degree, compared to 31 percent of the total foreign-born population.
Further, more than half of Nigerian immigrants (54 percent) occupy management positions, compared with 32 percent of the total foreign-born population and 39 percent of the U.S.-born population. In addition, ties are deepening in the art, film, fashion, and music spaces.
Nigeria’s potential is enormous. With Nigeria’s vibrant and innovative youth, we know that the best is yet to come for this great nation. As proud partners, we will continue to stand by Nigeria and work towards a more inclusive, peaceful, and prosperous Nigeria.
By: Mary Beth Leonard
Leonard is U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria
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