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Low women representation in governance, leadership worrisome – says INEC boss



Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, the Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has described as worrisome the low representation of women in governance and leadership in Nigeria.

He said this on Tuesday during the Public Presentation of a report on the 2019 general election by the Nigerian Women’s Trust Fund (NWTF) in Ibadan.

Nigeria News Agency reports that the programme was organised by NWTF in partnership with Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA) with support from MacAthur Foundation.

The report has as its title ‘Women’s Participation in the 2019 General Elections from an Accountability Perspective: Kano and Oyo States Under Spotlight’ was unveiled at the event.

Yakubu, who was represented by Dr Adekunle Ogunmola, an INEC National Commissioner, said there was no doubt that effective participation of women in electoral process matter was key.

“This has become worrisome as women’s participation in governance and leadership is not only an essential prerequisite for removing gender inequality but also the attainment of basic human rights.

“During the elections, only five out of the 73 candidates who ran for the position of president were women.

1,668 men and 232 women vied for the 109 senatorial seats, while 4,139 men and 533 women contended for 360 seats in the House of Representatives.

“At the end of the election, only seven women won senatorial seats and 11 were elected into the House of Representatives, while four were elected as deputy governors,’’ he said.

He said that the huge efforts made by INEC to support the participation of women in electoral process did not succeed in addressing the decline of women’s representation in politics.

The INEC boss assured all of the commission’s efforts towards advancing the electoral process, pledging to consider every recommendations in the report and those already submitted to INEC.

Also, Hajia Saudatu Mahdi, the Secretary-General, WRAPA, called for collective efforts in sensitising women and the youths, saying things were not working properly in Nigeria because more than 50 per cent of Nigerians had been excluded.

“When I say 50 per cent, I mean women and youths. Women and youths are excluded from our governance structure and the only way we can take them in is when we can speak the fact,’’ Mahdi said.

According to her, it is worrisome to have over 50 per cent of the decision makers in the country at an age over 60 years.

“The business of governance is the business of everybody and that means accountability. We must as a forum of citizens be able to hold our leaders accountable and we must also be accountable,’’ she said.

Ms. Mufuliat Fijabi, Chief Executive Officer, NWTF, said the report was a product of Gender and Election Watch created by NWTF for advocacy, accountability matters and to advance continued progress of women.

She urged women and youths to always participate in all developmental agenda across their various societies as well as the electoral process to ensure accountability.

“Whether we like it or not, election is only an aspect of our governance, it is the determining factor because once the election is ended, we have the people in government for another four years.

Fijabi said that Nigerians must join hands with INEC to make the electoral process work, adding that women can only emerge where the electoral process is devoid of corrupt practices.

“The reality is that INEC will continue to try its best, but we citizens need to understand. The more people sell their votes to their buyers, it reduces the chances of women emerging as candidates.

“The reality is that women do not have the matching power. We, all are critical stakeholders in Nigeria’s electoral process and need to make it work,’’ she said.

In their remarks, Mr Mutiu Agboke, the State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) and Mrs Dolapo Dosunmu, State Director, National Orientation Agency (NOA), charged women as well as youths to participate actively in electoral process.

The duo also called on the people to always participate in other societal agenda, saying such was a way to be more relevant to attain leadership positions.

Dr Roselyn Musa, a Consultant, Gender and Development, as well as Mr Jide Ojo, Executive Director, OJA Development Consult, reviewed the contents of the reports presented.

NAN reports that the event was attended by representatives of political parties, religious leaders, women groups, representatives of government agencies and the media. (NAN)


Edited by Abigael Joshua/Bayo Sekoni

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NOA urges Kebbi Assembly to criminalise use of non professionals in building construction



The National Orientation Agency (NOA), in Kebbi, has urged the Kebbi Assembly to enact law to enforce strict compliance in the use of professionals in building construction, to curtail incidences of building collapse.

The Director of the Agency in the state, Mr Joseph Machina, gave the advice in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency in Birnin Kebbi on Wednesday.

“In line with the directive of the Director- General of NOA, Dr Garba Abari, we are calling for the citizens engagement in the management and reduction of disaster in the state.

“As such, we urge the Kebbi assembly to enact laws and enforce strict compliance to use of professionals and certified engineers in building construction in the state,” he said.

Machina attributed incidences of disasters, including building collapse and fire outbreaks to improper information on preventive measures and management.

“The incessant and numerous building collapse, fire incidents, especially bush burning during harmattan season that result in loss of lives and properties are results of lack of disaster risk reduction design, poor maintenance culture, and patronage of uncertified engineers, among others.

“The use of fire fighting gadgets and maintenance culture in all government and private organizations, residential  houses and markets should be enforced,” he said.

Machika assured that the agency would carry out a step down awareness campaign at the grassroots on disaster management.
“All the Chief Orientation and Mobilization Officers of the agency in the 21 local government areas will be involved in the campaigns against bush burning and illegal construction of building in order to reverse the trend,” the director said. .

Edited by Maharazu Ahmed (NAN)

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Bauchi UNICEF Chief decries non-domestication of CRC by Bauchi, other states



Mr Bhanu Pathak, UNICEF Chief of Field, Bauchi Field Office, on Wednesday expressed dismay over the refusal of 25 out of the 36 states in the country to domesticate the Convention for the Rights of the Child convention (CRC), signed over 30 years ago by the UN.

Briefing newsmen in Bauchi as part of events commemorating the 30th anniversary of the convention, he said it was disappointing that most of the defaulting states were in the northern region, listing Bauchi, Gombe, Jigawa and Adamawa States as those defaulting under the field office.

According to him, under the UNICEF Zone D Field Office, only Plateau and Taraba States have domesticated the CRC, while the above mentioned four have refused to do so.

He also said that no fewer than 34,000 children in Taraba were malnourished.

“In Taraba State, almost 34,000 children are malnourished and needed immediate support.

“Similar numbers are in Bauchi, Gombe and Adamawa States as well, and if the state governments did not intervene, many of them will die.

“Many of these children need immediate support and treatment to save them from severe malnutrition,” he said.

Pathak also said that 50 per cent of children in Bauchi, Gombe, Plateau, Adamawa, Taraba and Jigawa states were not fully immunised against the six child-killer diseases.

He further said that a survey had shown that the country was battling with 10 million out-of-school children, a phenomenon he described as “disheartening”.

Pathak said that UNICEF was working in collaboration with Adamawa, Bauchi and Gombe state governments to identify the children and get them enrolled in schools.

“UNICEF can only support but the states have to take the bulk of responsibilities; we are here to support and have supported,” he asserted.

Edited by Jane (NAN)-Francis

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Nigeria customs impounds 1,343 bags of foreign rice, others worth N492m, makes 6 arrest



The Federal Operations Unit (FOU) Zone ‘C’ of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) in Owerri said it impounded 1,343 bags of foreign rice and other contraband worth N492 million and made six arrest within the month.

The Area Controller of the Zone, Compt. Kayode Olusemire, made this known while displaying the seized items to newsmen in Owerri on Wednesday.

He said the contraband with Duty Paid Value of N492 million were seized by his men along Port HarcourtOwerri axis, while six suspects were arrested in connection with the seized items.

He said that two of the suspects had been given administrative bail.

He expressed regret that in spite of Federal Government’s efforts, through the Nigeria customs and other government agencies to combat smuggling, some individuals had remained adamant in shortchanging government’s revenue generation.

Olusemire said that most of the seized items had expired,  while others such as Analgin had been banned by the government and so are unfit for human consumption.

“Nigerians derive joy in perpetrating evil all in the intent to defraud the government and make more profits.

“The war against importation of foreign rice is not yet over. Nigerians should be encouraged to eat what is produced in the country. We can do this by stopping to patronise foreign rice.

“With technology, you can plant anything and it will grow. Depending on and patronising foreign-made goods is undermining the economy of the nation,” he said.

The area controller identified the seized items to include a 1* 40 ft container carrying 312 bales of used clothing, another 1 * 40 ft container with 1,182 cartons of Analgin injection and other items and a 1 * 40 ft truck with 233 cartons of foreign furniture.

He said the foreign furniture truck was seized due to wrong declaration made by the conveyor.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that other items seized are a truck containing 392 bags of 50kg foreign rice and 33 bales of second hand clothing, both with DPV of over N15.253 million.

A ttruck with 205 bags of 50kg foreign rice both valued at N7.95 million and another truck carrying 684 bags of 50kg foreign rice with DPV of N22.35 million.

Olusemire said the prohibited second hand clothing, furniture, rice and analgin were concealed with other unprohibited items such as granite to deceive the eagle eyes of the customs men.

He said that a Toyota Sienna car carrying 62 bags of 50kg foreign rice with a total DPV of N3.20 million were equally seized.

The customs officer described smuggling as an evil practice that had made the country’s industries moribond causing the Nigerian youths employment opportunities.

“There are so many ways smugglers operate. But we can only stop them, especially the rice smugglers by not patronising the foreign rice.

“We will continue to sensitise Nigerians untill the war against smuggling is won,’ he said.

Olusemire called on Nigerians to always provide useful information about activities of smugglers, stressing that the NCS was  better equipped and trained with wide spread tentacles to stop smugglers any how they decided to operate.

Edited by Tajudeen Atitebi (NAN)

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Lawmaker calls for calm over suspension of petrol to border communities



Rep. Babatunde Hunpe, member of the House of Representatives representing Badagry Constituency, has urged residents of the border communities to remain calm following the Federal Government’s suspension of petrol supply to their areas.

Hunpe made the plea in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency on Wednesday in Badagry, saying that the members of the House were on top of the matter.

NAN reports that the Federal Government had on Nov. 6 announced the suspension of diesel and petrol supply to filling stations within 20 kilometres radius of all Nigerian borders.

The Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Retired Col. Hameed Alli, issued the directive in a memo.

NAN also reports that on Nov. 11, the House of Representatives called on the Federal Government, through the Nigerian Customs Service, to lift the ban on sales of petrol within the country’s borders.

A member of the House, Mr Sada Soli, had moved a motion of urgent national importance at the plenary asking that the order by the NCS should be vacated.

According to him, the order by the customs boss contravened the provisions of the Customs and Excise Act.

Hunpe urged his constituents not to be confrontational with security operatives as a result of the directive.

He said that the members of the House of Representatives were working round the clock to ensure that the Federal Government rescind its directive.

“Sincerely, I understand the plights of my people in all the border communities as a result of closure of the borders and now suspension of petrol to them.

“Many people have lost their jobs, while some have their means of livelihood stopped. Since the closure of the borders, things are not the way it used to be.

“The question is that if our security operatives live up to expectations, it will not result to this suspension.

“At present, my people have lost many things to this closure; our friends, business partners and many travellers that ply our roads.

“I am from a border community and I got voted into the House of Representatives to seek their welfare, which I have promised with my strength.

“I feel your pains my people, I know what you are passing through with the border closure and now the pains of travelling down many kilometres to get petrol.

“Even, many of our women have lost their babies at birth due to no petrol supply to travel to the next hospital in the middle of the night in the border communities.

“Can we blame God because He created us in this place?’’ Hunpe asked.

Hunpe appealed to the Federal Government to see reasons with members from border communities and lift the ban on the suspension of petrol to those border communities.

He said that this would alleviate sufferings the residents were passing through and reduce the numbers of people that were out of jobs as a result of the border closure.

Edited by Oluyinka Fadare/Olagoke Olatoye (NAN)

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Ota tanker fire: Falana says victims should be compensated



Mr Femi Falana, (SAN) says he is ready to go to court in defence of any victim that was involved in the recent tanker fire incident at Sango-Ota in Ogun, or their willing family members.

Falana spoke on Wednesday at the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) Zone 2 4th Quarter 2019 retreat held at Public Staff Development Centre (PSSDC) Magodo, Lagos.

According to him, somebody must be responsible for any traffic crash on the the road.

Recall that two persons died and six others were injured in a fire accident involving a petrol tanker close to the old toll gate at Sango-Ota, Ogun State on Thursday night.

Seventeen vehicles were burnt in the accident that happened around 11.55 pm, according to the FRSC Assistant Corps Commander in Ota, Mr Ganiyu Akeem.

Falana said he was ready to go to court to seek compensation for victims who lost their vehicles and the families of the dead victims Pro Bono.

“That is the whole essence of insurance; they must be compensated, so that we don’t turn their families to beggars on the streets.

“The case must be pursued, we must put smiles on peoples face,” he said.

Falana also tasked the FRSC to always get the authority involved to fix dilapidated roads to prevent future occurrence of such disaster.

According to him, the corps should not only check the road worthiness of vehicles, but also identify roads that are bad and channel the reports to appropriate agencies for rehabilitation.

“The corps must also ensure the reports of bad roads are constantly channelled to Ministry of Works.

‘The life span of every road is four years, FRSC must ensure both the federal and state government do their responsibilities as the case may be on road rehabilitation,” he said.

Falana also charged the FRSC to always discharge its duties in line with the law.

“Ignore big men who threaten you on the highways by making calls when they are arrested, do your work in line with the enabling law, always keep your record of any incident and shun briber;  then, we’ll be there to defend you,” said.

Mr Samuel Obayemi, the FRSC Zonal Commanding Officer in Charge of Ogun and Lagos States, earlier in his address, said that the corps had done well in terms of patrol operations in the zone.

Obayemi said that the corps was also trying to improve on its service delivery despite many cases of assault by members of the public against its officials.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that the fourth quarter retreat involved Unit Commanders in both Ogun and Lagos States.

Edited by Oluwole Sogunle (NAN)

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Presidential panel on sexual, gender-based violence receives 96 complaints- NHRC



The presidential Special Investigation Panel on Sexual and Gender-based Violence (SGBV) in Nigeria has so far received 96 complaints and memoranda across the six geo-political zones on cases of sexual gender-based violence.

Mr Tony Ojukwu, the Executive Secretary, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), made this known at the South-West public sitting of the panel on Wednesday in Lagos.

Ojukwu said that so far, the panel had received 96 complaints/memoranda across the six geo-political zones with South-East accounting for the highest number of 35, representing 37 per cent of the total complaints received.

He said that the North-Central accounts for 19; South-West has 15; North-West 12; South-South 11, while North-East has four.

Ojukwu said that the panel, which had conducted sitting in Abuja, was constituted following the complaint received on April 26, 2019 in respect of raids of night clubs and streets of Abuja by armed security personnel.

According to him, it was led by the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) under the auspices of the FCT Joint Task Force, claiming that the raids were intended to arrest prostitutes.

He said that victims of the raids, mostly women had made serious allegations of rape, sexual harassment and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

“Pursuant to the above, the office of the Vice President requested the commission to take immediate steps to arrest this scourge in the society and make appropriate recommendations to the government,’’ Ojukwu said.

The commission executive secretary called on the victims of sexual and gender-based violence to forward their complaints to the panel.

He explained that the essence of the public sitting was to check the scourge of sexual and gender-based violence in Nigeria and increase access of Nigerians to the services of the commission.

Ojukwu said that this was to enable them to seek for accountability “where there is evidence to indicate that any officer or official or any individual is involved in acts of sexual and gender-based violence’’.

He said that the public sitting was also to provide opportunities for fair hearing to both complaints and alleged violators and to mainstream human rights norms and tenets into the operations of AEPB.

Ojukwu said that the panel would still hold public sittings in the South-South; South-East; North-West and North-East toward addressing the scourge of Sexual and Gender-based Violence (SGBV) in Nigeria.

He said that members of the panel were carefully selected to represent diverse interests of the society.

Ojukwu said that the panel would work closely with consultants who would bring expertise in the field of SGBV to bear on the proceedings and reports of the panel.

He said that the commission would hear complainants and investigate alleged acts of violation of human rights under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).

“Investigate matters of conduct and discipline of the joint task forces including AEPB, the police and other law enforcement agents during raids, especially as it affects women and girls within the past 10 years.

“Identify individuals directly responsible for any violation and abuses and make recommendations for further actions including, but not limited to prosecutions, disciplinary proceedings and damages.

“Develop clear guidelines and policy on SGBV for institutions, MDAs, public and private organisation and homes that can serve as good practices against the backdrop of reported cases of abuse,” he said.

Edited by Olagoke Olatoye (NAN)

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