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Be ready to vote on Feb. 23, Rights group urges Nigerians






By Yemi Adeleye

Lagos, Feb. 16, 2019 (NNN) The Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR), Lagos State Chapter, has urged Nigerians not to lose hope in the electoral process’s following the unexpected postponement of the Saturday elections.

Its Chairman in Lagos State, Mr Alex Omotehinse, said instead, Nigerians should be ready to go out end masse on Feb. 23 and March 9 to cast their votes for candidates of their choice.

Omotehinse spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NNN) on Saturday in Lagos on the sudden postponement of Presidential and National Assembly elections by INEC, barely five hours to commencement of the elections.

NNN reports that INEC had shifted the Saturday’s Presidential and National Assembly elections by one week over logistics and operational problems.

INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, had attributed the postponement of all the scheduled elections to logistic and operational problems.

Yakubu said that the Governorship, State Houses of Assembly, and FCT Area Council elections were also shifted from March 2 to March 9.

INEC chief said that the postponement would afford the electoral body the opportunity to address the identified challenges in order to maintain the quality of Nigeria’s elections.

Responding, Omotehinse said: “My advice to Nigerians, especially the electorate is to get ready and prepare to cast their votes whenever INEC is ready.

“There should be no voter apathy for the good of our nation.

“Nigerians should not lose hope; this postponement is a way of distraction, but Nigerians should not be distracted or be discouraged.

“They should be focussed and get ready to cast their votes for any candidate of their choice.’’

According to him, the postponement came as a shock to some of us.

“Though, the postponement of elections is constitutional and allowed, it is uncalled for five hours to the opening of polling units.

“The postponement will afford the commission the opportunity to address the identified challenges in order to maintain the quality of Nigeria’s elections.

“I think this is unacceptable; if elections are to be postponed, it should not be less than 24, not five hours to the poll.

“These elections were said to have been planned for by INEC,” Omotehinse said:

The activist explained that many business activities were crippled due to the postponement.

He said that the reasons adduced by INEC for the postponement was not “tenable and believable”. (NNN)

Edited by Fela Fashoro/Olagoke Olatoye


UN rights chief highlights disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on racial, ethnic minorities




United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said Tuesday that the alarming inequalities exposed by the COVID-19 outbreak are fueling the widespread protests affecting hundreds of cities across the United States.

“This virus is exposing endemic inequalities that have too long been ignored. In the United States, protests triggered by the killing of George Floyd are highlighting not only police violence against people of colour, but also inequalities in health, education, employment and endemic racial discrimination,” the UN human rights chief said in a press release issued Tuesday.

“It is a tragedy that it took COVID-19 to expose what should have been obvious, that unequal access to healthcare, overcrowded housing and pervasive discrimination make our societies less stable, secure and prosperous,” she added.

According to the UN official, the impact from COVID-19 on people of African descent as well as ethnic minorities in some countries seemed to be worse.

In the United States, she said, the COVID-19 death rate for African Americans is reported to be more than double that of other racial groups.

People from racial and ethnic minorities are also found in higher numbers in some jobs that carry increased risk, including in the transport, health and cleaning sectors, she said.

“The fight against this pandemic cannot be won if Governments refuse to acknowledge the blatant inequalities that the virus is bringing to the fore,” she said, adding that the efforts to tackle COVID-19 and to begin the recovery process will only be successful when “everyone’s rights to life and health are protected without discrimination”.


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Minnesota governor announces civil rights probe into Minneapolis Police Department




Minnesota Governor Tim Walz said Tuesday that his state is launching a civil rights probe into the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD), of which four police officers were involved in the brutal killing of unarmed black man George Floyd last week.

Walz said the Minnesota Department of Human Rights has filed the civil rights charge against the MPD and will investigate its “policies, procedures, and practices over the past 10 years to determine if they engaged in systemic discriminatory practices.”

“My administration will use every tool at our disposal to deconstruct generations of systemic racism in Minnesota,” the governor said on Twitter following a news conference. “This effort is one of many steps to come in our effort to restore trust with communities that have been unseen and unheard for far too long.”

Floyd died on May 25 after being pinned to the ground by four MPD police officers, who arrested him for allegedly using a fake 20-dollar note to buy cigarettes. All of the officers have been fired, and Derek Chauvin, the one who kept his knee down on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes even as Floyd pleaded desperately for his life, has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.

“This is not about holding people personally criminally liable,” said Minnesota Human Rights Commissioner Rebecca Lucero, who will lead the just-announced investigation. “This is about systems change.”

Floyd’s death instigated nationwide protests against police brutality and racism that have persisted for a week now.

As demonstrations escalated into violent unrests in some parts of the country, United States President Donald Trump on Monday threatened the use of the military to clamp down on the protesters, a response that drew immediate condemnation from his political opponents, including former Vice President Joe Biden, whom Trump is all but certain to face off in the general election later this year.


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Turkey vows to protect rights, interests in Mediterranean




Turkey will uncompromisingly continue to protect its rights and interests in the Mediterranean, the country’s National Security Council said on Tuesday.

The council said in a statement that it held a face-to-face meeting for the first time in four months to evaluate the “negative approach of these actors towards the legitimate and legal steps” of Ankara in the Mediterranean.

Chaired by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, chiefs of the Turkish security apparatus and relevant ministers discussed domestic and international security issues faced by the country, the statement said.

The council said that the protection of Turkey’s rights, interests in land, sea, and air in the Mediterranean “will continue without compromise.”

“Turkey will also continue military support to the Libyan government in Tripoli,” read the statement.

“The military consultancy services provided by our country will be maintained for the efforts of the legitimate government, which is recognized by the UN, to ensure peace and tranquility throughout the country (Libya),” it said.

Turkey called on the international society to take a “principled stance” against those who target the legitimate Libyan government in Tripoli, said the statement, referring to General Khalifa Haftar who fights the rival UN-backed government.

In 2019, Turkey signed a memorandum of understanding for maritime delimitation with Libya’s UN-backed government of national accord, and planned to launch drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean upon the deal.

The agreement fueled tensions in Turkey’s dispute with Greece, Cyprus and Egypt over the oil and gas drilling rights in the area.

After sealing a military cooperation deal with the government in Tripoli, Turkey also sent security officials to Libya to support the UN-backed government led by Fayez al-Sarraj.


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UPDC lists N16bn rights issue on NSE



UACN Property Development Company (UPDC) Plc on Tuesday, listed N16 billion rights issue of 15.96 billion ordinary shares at N1 per share on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).

With the listing, the company became yet another beneficiary of the Exchange’s  commitment to providing continued access to capital even in the face of COVID-19.

Mr Oscar Onyema, NSE’s Chief Executive Officer, speaking at the virtual Closing Gong ceremony to commemorate the listing, commended the company for the successful completion of the rights issue.

“We congratulate the management and team at UACN Property Development Company, as well as the professional parties to the issue for the successful completion of the transaction.

At the NSE, we prioritise our responsibility to support the development of issuers, dealing member firms and the investing public, and we continue to work assiduously to respond to the needs of our stakeholders at every time.

“We are, therefore, pleased to provide support to UPDC on this successful capital raise, and we remain committed to providing opportunities for trading activities across multiple asset classes – equities, bonds, ETFs,” Onyema said.

He said the Exchange would remain focused on leveraging technology and business innovation to sustain full operations during this pandemic.

Commenting on the transaction, Mr Folasope Aiyesimoji, UPDC Group Managing Director, lauded the NSE for embracing technology.

“I am deeply honoured to virtually sound the Closing Gong at the NSE today.

“The innovation and forward thinking displayed by the Exchange in harnessing technology to make this possible is truly commendable.

We at UPDC are excited about the milestone we have achieved today, and we are confident that the funds raised will further strengthen our capital structure and position us for growth.

“We count ourselves fortunate to be listed on the NSE which exposes us to a wide pool of investors and funding options.

“We must also commend the NSE for its efforts in building investor confidence, which has made it possible for us to access this capital.

“We are grateful for the trust reposed in us by investors and we are keen to get on with the invaluable projects this capital will support,” Aiyesimoji said.

Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Salif Atojoko (NAN)

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General news

Ibadan businessman petitions new Oyo CP over alleged rights infringement



An Ibadan-based businessman, Mr Peter Asa, has petitioned the new Commissioner of Police in Oyo State, Nwachukwu Enwonwu, over alleged infringement on his fundamental rights by the police.
Asa, in his petition, entitled: ‘Save My Soul’, and made available to newsmen on Tuesday in Ibadan, said that his rights had been grossly infringed upon.
He alleged that some police officers were being used to silence him over a certain property sold to him by a company, UAC, in 2020 for N26 million.
Asa, popularly known as King Zion, named a certain man as the brain behind his recent detention for three days at the Iyaganku police station.
The businessman said that the inaugural speech of the new police boss, where he pledged never to tolerate any infringement on the fundamental human rights of any member of the public by his officers and men, motivated his distress call.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Enwonwu, who took over from Mr Shina Olukolu, who had been transferred to the Force Criminal Investigation Department in Lagos State, assumed duty on June 1.
Asa, while alleging that the man in question had sponsored several attacks on him, using security agents, implored the police commissioner to carry out an investigation on the case.
“Two officers from Iyaganku, on a recent Thursday afternoon, around 2 pm., at the premises of a bank in Dugbe, arrested and treated me like a common criminal.
“I was taken to Iyaganku police station and kept in detention with criminally-minded suspects for three days.
“The officers arrested me and said my attention was needed at Iyaganku.
is no iota of truth in what I was alleged of. They said I was responsible for the fire incident at the said property, which I duly paid for over 18 years ago.
“The ownership right on the matter is still in court and I will not want to go there. But as a pastor, I know truth will prevail at the end, as I have faith in God that I will get justice, no matter what,” he said.
Asa said that the fire incident happened in broad daylight on April 15 and that he was arrested on May 14, allegedly on a trumped up charge that he was responsible for the inferno.
He said that his arrest came after the officials of Oyo State government had fingered a welder working in one of the shops in the complex as the brain behind the inferno.

Edited By: Bayo Sekoni and (NAN)‘Wale Sadeeq

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Declare state of emergency on sexual violence, Rights activist urges FG



A Human rights activist, Ms Dorothy Njemanze, on Tuesday urged the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency on the high rate of sexual violence in Nigeria.

Njemanze made the call while reacting to the circumstances that led to the death of Miss Uwaila Omozuwa, a 100-level student of the Department of Microbiology, University of Benin (UNIBEN), Ikpoba Hill axis.

Omozuwa was allegedly raped after her head was smashed with a fire extinguisher, which consequently led to her death at a place of worship in Benin.

“The outrage that followed the rape and killing of a 22-year-old student, Uwavera Omozuwa, in a place of worship in Edo, had led to a call for a state of emergency on sexual violence.

“Declaring a state of emergency will ensure that a stricter model that involves a comprehensive investigation and prosecution of offenders is adopted to curb the menace,” she said.

Njemanze decried the poor handling of many rape cases by the police, urging them to be more proactive and bring the perpetrators of the heinous act to justice.

“By now, we expect the police to have arrested all those who took to social media to confess to rape as the hashtag justice for Uwa trended.

“As you may know, hashtag justice for Uwa stirred conversations about rape in Nigeria. It quickly turned sour when several confession tweets by rapists emerged.

“But, it is unfortunate that nothing is done about those social media confessions,” she said.

Also, Ms Ummi Bukar, a gender rights activist, blamed the rising cases of rape in the country on poor parenting.

“Poor parenting means that so many young people do not have a proper orientation about these issues.

“But beyond parental roles, we are advocating a cultural shift that will truly abolish gender roles in our society,” she said.

Edited By: Folorunso Poroye/Olagoke Olatoye (NAN)

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Immigration rights activists call United States routine deportations amid pandemic “outrageous”




Immigration rights activists in Mexico have been outraged by the U.S. government’s routine deportations of undocumented migrants amid the COVID-19 pandemic without taking any health precautions.

It’s “outrageous,” said Ana Laura Lopez, founder of advocacy group “Deportees United in the Struggle.”

The group has aided deportees who complained of a general lack of adequate health and sanitary measures at U.S. detention centers, and throughout deportation proceedings, Lopez told Xinhua.

In addition, deportees found it hard to process needed documents or even buy basic necessities amid the COVID-19 lockdown, which ordered many government offices and non-essential businesses to close or curtail operations.

“We know what the posture of (United States President Donald) Trump‘s administration is: inhumane. If it was already inhumane before, it’s worse now — it is horribly evident,” said Lopez.

Migrant shelters along Mexico’s northern border with the United States, including the Catholic Church-run Nazareth Migrant Shelter in Nuevo Laredo, in the northeast state of Tamaulipas, have been wary of COVID-19 outbreaks sparked by the ongoing deportations.

In April, 15 migrants at the shelter, which borders the U.S. state of Texas, tested positive for the virus, piling more woes atop the residents’ existing concerns, recalled Father Marvin Ajic, a priest.

Six of the migrants were Honduran, four Mexican, three Cuban, and one from Guatemala and one Cameroon. Among them were minors aged 10, 13 and 16.

Being isolated “was painful for each of them,” said Ajic, adding that “it is important to take into consideration mental and psychological health.”

Since 2019, the United States‘ so-called Migrant Protection Protocols have allowed it to deport undocumented migrants seeking asylum in Mexico, where they await the outcomes of applications.

A COVID-19 outbreak at the shelter “was inevitable,” given that “a large percentage of those arriving had been in prisons” in the United States, which have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, warned Ajic.

Other Latin American countries such as Guatemala, Colombia, Haiti and Jamaica have also reported cases of deportees infected with COVID-19.

Some 986 migrants at more than 40 U.S. detention centers have tested positive for the virus, figures from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency show.

To prevent the spread of the outbreak, Mexican authorities have geared up to monitor deportees via temperature checks and other measures, as many of them return to their communities and rejoin families and friends, said Brenda Cardenas, head of the state-run Tamaulipas Migrant Institute.


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UN rights body stresses need to combat stigmatization in COVID-19 fight, supports WHO’s leading role




The United Nations Human Rights Council adopted on Friday a President‘s Statement on human rights implications of the COVID-19.

The Statement expressed concerns over the loss of life and livelihoods and the disruption to economies and societies by the COVID-19 pandemic, and its negative impact on human rights.

The pandemic, the Statement emphasizes, can only be countered effectively through international cooperation, unity, solidarity and collective action, based on a multilateral approach and strong international institutions.

The Statement reaffirms the fundamental role of the United Nations system in coordinating the global response to control and contain the spread of COVID-19 and in supporting Member States, and acknowledges the crucial leading role played by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The Human Rights Council is deeply concerned about stigmatization, xenophobia, racism and discrimination surfacing during the pandemic, stressing the need to combat it, according to the Statement.

The Statement underlines the importance of timely, equitable and unhindered access to medicines, vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics, and other health products and technologies necessary to ensure an adequate and effective response to the pandemic, and calls for urgent removal of unjustified obstacles to these efforts.

This is the first official document on the human rights implication of the COVID-19 adopted by the Human Rights Council, which has received broad support of Members and Observer States of the Council and reflected the common aspiration of the international community.


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UN rights chief shocked by caste-related killings in Nepal



Nepal must do much more to eradicate caste discrimination and violence, UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet said on Friday in Geneva, reacting to the recent killings of five men and a girl.

The UN high commissioner said she was shocked that a young man and his friends from the lowest-ranked Dalit caste were attacked and chased into a river last week when they tried to escort the man’s higher-caste girlfriend to their wedding.

In a separate incident last week, a 12-year-old Dalit girl was found hanged from a tree after she was reportedly married and raped by someone from a higher caste.

Nepal’s Home Affairs Ministry has established a high-level investigation committee after the killings sparked outrage.

“Caste-based discrimination remains widespread, not only in Nepal but other countries.

“Nepal has taken big strides to address this scourge, but so much more can and must be done to eradicate this blight on society,’’ Bachelet said in a statement from Geneva.

The UN rights chief also noted other cases of caste based crimes during the pandemic lockdown phase, including gang-rapes, murder, abductions and forced abortion.

Parliament has ordered the Home Affairs Ministry to investigate these incidents.

Dalits, formerly known as untouchables are at the lowest rank of the Hindu caste system.

Bachelet said that Dalits in Nepal and other countries were still being discriminated at every level of their lives.

Edited By: Halima Sheji/Grace Yussuf (NAN)

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