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Soyinka, top musical artists, business leaders rally for children’s rights

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Leaders from Nigeria’s private sector and entertainment industry on Thursday joined Nobel Laureate,  Prof. Wole Soyinka for a reading of his poem A Child Before a Mirror of Strangers, dedicated to children around the world in commemoration of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which celebrates a milestone 30th anniversary this year.

There is one common bond among all of us — and that bond is childhood,” said Prof. Soyinka.  “We have the responsibility to protect and preserve the integrity of that sole common bond, which is pertinent to all humanity.”

The event, a collaboration between UNICEF and the British Deputy High Commission, brought key leaders and influencers from Nigeria’s private sector and entertainment industry together to discuss how these sectors can help advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the realization of children’s rights.

“Achieving the SDGs and achieving child rights go hand-in-hand,” said Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Nigeria Representative.

“Both will only be achieved if all sectors of business are fully engaged. Child rights and the SDGs need to be integrated into business principles, strategies and plans, which, in turn, can contribute to more robust and inclusive economic growth and improved employment of young people. That is good for children, good for business and good for Nigeria.”

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With a population close to 200 million people and an ever-increasing youth bulge, Nigeria is experiencing increasing demands on schools and health facilities, and growing challenges for young people to find work, amongst other challenges.

In an appeal directly to children, musician, producer and songwriter Cobhams Asuquo said, “You are all that is right in Nigeria because you are the chance to rewrite all of wrongs that generations before you have done.  You have a chance and a clean state to make this country the place we all dream of.”

A strong push will need to be made by all if Nigeria is to meet the SDGs by 2030. The private sector could be a critical key in unlocking opportunities for young people, and also addressing poverty, combatting inequality and tackling environmental problems.

“We are pleased to work with UNICEF, the private sector, and young people themselves on ideas that will contribute to a better Nigeria for current and future generations of children,” said Harriet Thompson, British Deputy High Commissioner in Nigeria.

“With the anniversary of the CRC this year, the 30th anniversary of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child next year and only 10 years left to achieve the SDGs, we must work together and with urgency to scale-up solutions in Nigeria that will improve our planet and all people’s lives, especially our children.”

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WCC condemns killing of Nigerian Christian Brethren leader

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Upon hearing news that Church of the Brethren leader Lawan Andimi was executed by Boko Haram on 20 January, World Council of Churches general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit condemned the brutal act of violence and expressed his sincere condolences to Rev. Andimi’s family, community and church.

Andimi was an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria, serving as district secretary for the Michika area, and was chair of the Christian Association of Nigeria for the Michika area.

“We have lost a brother who worked for peace, who worked for ecumenism, and whose life has been cut short by senseless violence,” said Tveit.

Andimi was reported missing on 3 January, a day after an attack on Michika by Boko Haram. His abduction gained international attention when, on 5 January, his captors released a video in which he professed his Christian faith.

“We denounce this violence as an act of hate toward someone who dedicated his life to God and to the service of others,” said Tveit. “We pray for justice and comfort for his family and loved ones. And I appeal urgently to the Nigerian government and authorities to ensure the protection of people targeted by violent extremists because of their religious or other identity.”

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Andimi was originally from Kwada village in the Chibok area.

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LG Dissolution: Malami’s letter not served on us – Oyo AG reacts

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The Government of Oyo State has rejected the purported intervention of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) & Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) in the raging controversy over local government dissolution in the state.

Attorney-General of the state, Professor Oyelowo Oyewo, in a four-page response to a letter by the AGF, said that though the AGF did not submit the said letter to his office, he had to source the same from the social media in view of the weighty nature of the issues.

According to Prof. Oyewo, the AGF has no business dabbling into the matter of local government dissolution in Oyo State which is pending before the Court of Appeal.

A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Seyi Makinde, Mr. Taiwo Adisa indicated on Thursday, that the statement credited to Malami was uncalled for, misguided and lacking in merit, as far as the constitution of Nigeria is concerned.

The Government of Oyo State maintained that Malami’s letter dated 14 January, 2020, was written without adequate information and knowledge of the current position of the subject matter of dissolution of local government in the State.

According to the statement, the issue of local government dissolution in Oyo state is a subject of stay/appeal that is pending before the Court of Appeal in two cases including Governor of Oyo State Vs Basorun Bosun Ajuwon, Appeal no CA/IB/300/2019 and Basorun Majeed Bosun Ajuwon Vs Governor of Oyo State CA/IB/362/2019.

“It is also instructive to note that parties have filed their respective briefs of argument and the appeals have now been fixed for the 19th of February, 2020,” the statement reads.

The Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice in Oyo State equally declared that only the court and not the AGF could pronounce an order on the matter, which was sub judice.
The Government called on Malami to rise above partisan politics and advise parties to await judgment of the court in the various appeals.

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The Government added that the Constitution of the country had empowered States to ensure the existence and functioning of local governments, noting that it was not aware of any Act of the National Assembly that empowered the AGF to write the letter in which he purportedly barked orders at the State Government.

In the rejoinder entitled “RE: ALLEGED UNCONSTITUTIONALITY OF DISSOLUTION OF ELECTED LOCAL GOVERNMENT COUNCILS AND APPOINTMENT OF CARETAKER COMMITTEES: THE URGENT NEED FOR COMPLIANCE WITH EXTANT JUDICIAL DECISIONS,” Professor Oyewo said: “I wish to note that your letter Ref. No, HAGF/OYO/2020/Vol.1/1 of 14th January, 2020 dealing with the above subject matter was never served on us, but we read about it and had to secure a copy from the social media.

“I must note that under Section 7(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) which you referred to in your letter, it is the Law of the State Government that is to ensure the existence of the system of Local Government by democratically elected Local Government Council by providing for the establishment, structure, composition, finance and functions of such councils and not a Federal Law/Act.

“It is therefore not clear under what Act of the National Assembly the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation & Minister of Justice was acting in writing the letter under reference.

“It should be borne in mind that our Constitution has established a Federal system of government whereby the state government is not under the command of the Federal Government, neither are we under Military Era when the Federal Government could give a binding order to the State Government by mere proclamation and at will. We are now in a civilian dispensation and the position of every officer whether at the Federal or State level is guided by the provisions of the Constitution and relevant law.”

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The Oyo AG referred the AGF to two cases including Attorney-General Lagos Vs Attorney-General Federation (2004) 18 N.W.LR (PT.S 904)II and Attorney General Abia Vs Attorney-General Federation(2002) 6 N.W.L.R (PT. 763)264.

The letter continued: “We are of the firm belief that your letter under reference was written without adequate information and knowledge of the current position with respect to the subject matter of Local Government Dissolution in Oyo State. A careful diligent search would have shown that the issue of Dissolution of Local Government in Oyo is presently a subject matter of stay/appeal and pending at the Court of Appeal in the following cases; a.) Governor of Oyo State vs Basorun Bosun Ajuwon Appeal NO CA/IB/300/2019 and b.) Basorun Majeed Bosun Ajuwon vs Governor of Oyo State CA/IB/362/2019.”

The Government of Oyo State, however, took exception to perceived threats by Malami, especially his directive to some federal agencies to “ensure compliance,” noting that until the constitutional right of appeal, which is guaranteed in the country’s adjudicatory system, is exhausted, Malami had no right to dabble in the matter of the local government dissolution or threaten the State.

“We, therefore, want to advise the Attorney-General of the Federation to rise above partisan politics and advise parties to await judgment of the court in the various appeals. To do otherwise is to foist a fait accompli on the court.

As a law-abiding Government, we are prepared to abide by the decision of the court when eventually delivered. We are, however, unperturbed by the subtle threat in your letter and your directives to take steps to ensure compliance of a cited judgment in which Oyo State was never a party and on a live matter in which an appeal is pending.

“For the avoidance of doubt, please note further that in Oyo State, the issue of Local Government administration is presently before the court of competent jurisdiction and by our adjudicatory system, whoever is aggrieved by the decision of a court has the constitutional right of appeal. Until such right is exhausted, the Attorney-General of the Federation & Minister of Justice cannot dabble into such matter. We are aware of the provisions of Section 174 (1) to (3) of the CFRN, 1999 (as amended) but they only relate to criminal proceedings and not civil matters as in this case. The action of the Attorney-General of the Federation & Minister of Justice is therefore uncalled for with respect to a matter that is sub judice. It is only a court of law that can given such an order and not the office of the Attorney-General & Minister of Justice. All the cases referred to in your letter mentioned above are not on all fours with the present cases involving Oyo State because the facts are not the same. A case is an authority for what it decides.

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“It will therefore be in interest of justice to allow the rule of law to prevail by letting the pending cases involving Oyo State on the dissolution of Local Governments in Oyo State to run their full course in the law courts.”

 

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Nigeria: Weekend Attack an effort to Intimidate Humanitarian Actors – UN

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On 18 January, non-state armed groups stormed a humanitarian facility in Ngala town, some 124 kilometers from Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state. Although all United Nations humanitarians in the facility – including three IOM staff – were reported safe, an entire section of the facility was burned down as well as one of the few vehicles used by humanitarians to deliver aid.

“The intended effect of this is to intimidate the humanitarian actors working in north-east Nigeria. We have seen this as humanitarian workers are increasingly targeted,” said IOM Nigeria Chief of Mission Franz Celestin.

The targeted facility is one of nine humanitarian hubs in Borno managed by IOM. Humanitarian hubs provide operating environments for aid workers in deep field locations, including accommodation, office and connectivity services. These spaces are critical for a sustained and effective humanitarian response in Nigeria.

“These (humanitarian) hubs are the ultimate enablers to allow the humanitarian workers to improve the quality of the response by allowing them enough time on the ground to do what they’re supposed to do. Prior to the hubs, humanitarian workers could only go on day trips, so they’d go one day at a time to deliver services,” Celestin said.

The attack comes just 11 days after members of a non-state armed group (NSAG) infiltrated Monguno town. Two children, an adult male and one adult female were killed in the attack on a camp for internally displaced people. In addition, several injured people are currently receiving medical attention at a nearby clinic run by ALIMA, an international non-governmental organization.

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That deadly attack left 2,728 people homeless. According to an IOM Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) report, more than 300 shelters and properties belonging to the affected individuals were destroyed.

The ongoing conflict in north-east Nigeria continues to claim the lives of innocent people, and increasingly, of humanitarian workers. In 2019, twelve aid workers lost their lives, twice the number of deaths in the previous year.

DTM provides detailed and up-to-date information on characteristics and needs of crisis-affected populations registration and profiling of displaced populations in camp and camp-like settings, flow monitoring exercises and reports, as well as the provision of detailed infrastructural information on areas of return through village assessment surveys.

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