• Decision Tramples on Basic Rights of Religious Movement
A Nigerian court ruled on July 26, 2019 that activities of the Shia Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) amount to “acts of terrorism and illegality” and ordered the government to ban the religious group, Human Rights Watch said today. Nigeria’s presidency then announced the ban on July 28.
“The sweeping court ruling against the Shia movement threatens the basic human rights of all Nigerians,” said Anietie Ewang, Nigeria researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The government should seek to reverse the ban, which prohibits the religious group’s members from exercising their right to meet and carry out peaceful activities.”
The IMN is a Shia minority sect with close ties to Iran, operating mostly in northern Nigeria. It began in the 1980s and is led by Sheik Ibrahim El Zakzaky, who was inspired by Iran’s revolutionary movement during his travels there. The sect has an estimated four million followers. It is separate from Boko Haram, an Islamist armed group also operating in northern Nigeria.
The move to ban the group came less than a week after police violently cracked down on members of the Shia movement in Abuja, the capital, as they protested the Zakzaky’s detention since 2015 and called for the authorities to allow him proper medical care. At least 11 protesters, a journalist, and a police officer were killed, while dozens of other protesters were wounded or arrested.
In its July 26 ruling, the court directed the government to publish the proscription order in the official Gazette and two national dailies. Nigeria’s solicitor general had brought a motion – called an ex parte application – before the court, seeking to have the group declared a terrorist organization and banned. The group’s representatives were not given an opportunity to participate in the hearing, as such an application is intended for emergency proceedings that do not require the opposing party to respond or be present.
In announcing the ban on the movement, the presidency stated that the government had “outlawed the criminality of the group,” which has engaged in terrorist activities, “including attacking soldiers, killing policemen and a youth corps member, destroying public property, consistently defying State authority.” The statement further specified that the ban was not against peaceful and law-abiding Shia Muslims in the country who are practicing their religion.
The Nigerian constitution and international human rights law guarantee the rights to freedom of religion, association and expression. Under international law, no restrictions may be placed on these rights unless provided by law, serve a legitimate government purpose in a democratic society, and are necessary for attaining that purpose.
“Allegations of criminality do not present legitimate grounds to ban the activities of a religious group, including protests for justice and the release of their leader,” Ewang said. “The ban on the Shia movement may portend an even worse security force crackdown on the group, which could have dire human rights implications throughout Nigeria.”
Oyo To Support UNICEF on Enlightenment and Advocacy
Oyo State government has assured that advocacy and enlightenment programs of the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) would receive its support to further educate the general public on the activities of the body.
The assurance was given by the State Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Dr. Wasiu Olatubosun on Friday when a team from the Southwest office of UNICEF visited him at his office in Ibadan.
Olatubosun said the impact of UNICEF on the society in general and the children in the areas of education, health and social welfare was immeasurable, adding that the international body has contributed so much to the world, hence the need for the State to give its support.
He added the the Ministry would deploy its online radio and other media platforms under it to project activities of the world body.
“UNICEF has done the world a great deal of good through their positive impact in protecting the right of the children to quality education, quality health, shelter and other necessities of life, whatever required to support them will be provided.
“The Seyi Makinde administration will always recognize the good deeds and those areas that UNICEF has made life easier for the children of the haves and the have nots, and it is a pride to so associate with the works of the body in working for a better world.”
In his words, the leader of the team, Dr Tushar Rane said UNICEF was happy to associate with Oyo State for its welfare policies in the area of education, health and social inclusion.
He sought further collaboration from the State to boost the programs and activities of UNICEF in Oyo State.
AfDB approves $124.2 million loan for water sector reforms in Akure
The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank on Thursday approved a $ 124.2 million loan to finance the Urban Water Sector Reform and Akure Water Supply and Sanitation Project in Nigeria. The amount includes an African Growing Together Fund (AGTF) loan of $20 million.
The overall project cost is $222.69 million and will span five years from 2020-2025.
The project is set to address bottlenecks in critical water supply services to households in the densely populated project area. It would provide residents of Akure city (Ondo State) and its environs, access to safe drinking water and sanitation. The project will strengthen the Federal Government’s capacity to facilitate urban Water Supply and Sanitation reforms.
“The project will particularly contribute to improving the living conditions of the communities in the project area. Involving these communities in the public awareness and marketing activities, will increase the project’s ownership and ensure they pay for the water supply and sanitation services,” said Ebrima Faal, Senior Director at the Bank’s Nigeria Regional Office.
The loan will also help to install sanitation infrastructure for schools, hospitals, markets.
On completion, the project will benefit the 1.3 million residents of Akure City and vicinities. At the Federal level, the project’s Urban Water Reform component will establish a water and sanitation investment program that would contribute to scaling up of the National WASH Action plan 2018-2030.
The project, which combines “hard” water, sanitation and environmental protection infrastructure with “soft” analytical and institutional reform support, aligns with the Bank’s Ten-Year Strategy (TYS) and its High 5s priority areas, the Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) Policy.
As at December 13 2019, the Bank’s active portfolio in Nigeria comprised 61 operations, of which 54 are national and seven are regional. The total commitment to these projects is $4.8 billion and includes water and sanitation projects worth $606.0 million.
Fayemi Approves N3.4 Billion For Road Rehabilitation In Four LGAs
The Kayode Fayemi – led government in Ekiti state has approved the rehabilitation of some failed portion of state roads in four local government areas of the state.
The government said its decision was to ensure that there is a better road network linking all the towns and villages in the state.
The Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Olayinka Oyebode made the disclosure while briefing the Press on the outcome of the
State Executive Council meeting in Ado-Ekiti, the state capital. He added that Governor
Fayemi had promised to fix the state’s roads as soon as there was improvement in the weather.
Oyebode informed that the Council also approved Ekiti State Waste Management Authority Bill (2019) in its drive to ensure improved sanitation.
He further announced that the council has approved N3, 211,848 for the rehabilitation of Oye-Iye-Ikun-Otun road which would include
earthworks, covering the eroded portion of the road as well as construction of line drains in Isan, Imojo, Itaji, Ayede, and Igogo.
According to him, the Council also approved N1,167,884,936.87 for the rehabilitation of Aramoko-Erijiyan-Ikogosi road both with a completion period of 12 months.
The Chief Press Secretary also disclosed that the Council also approved the revocation of the Agbado-Ode-Isinbode-Omuo road contract which was awarded in 2014 but abandoned by the contractor.
He said further that the extent of works done would be evaluated by the Ministry of Works and Transport to know if it commensurate to the advance payment collected by the said contractor.
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