- Suffers self-hate, depression, societal stigma
- Undergoes series of tests, seek help
Fate has a way of affecting the life of people positively or otherwise. People talk about luck in all spheres of life and it could work for or against. For 25 years old Afam Okeke, fate or life itself has been cruel. Growing up stage was smooth as a little boy but gradually, feminine traits developed in his body like hips and breasts.
For the purpose of this piece, Okeke popularly called Sherry by friends will be referred to as a lady with feminine pronoun. She said: “I was naive and didn’t know about myself. I was born with a functional penis and scrotum, raised up as a boy and had boy looks too as well as boy’s voice. But I felt so much like a girl and preferred f e m i n i n e things, feminine oriented movies, clothes etc.
My body language: walking, sitting, standing, bending all read female so people used to make fun of me that I was acting like a girl. Sometimes, when I talk, people will hear a girl’s voice, sometimes when they see me, they tell me ‘I look like a girl. I didn’t know what all these meant.
My friends tell me I catwalk like a girl. I didn’t know what all these meant. I wasn’t really close to my parents or siblings. We are three boys and I am the second. My mum used to tell me nothing is wrong with me and I should not worry about what people were saying.
I believed her but sometimes, when I look at myself in the mirror, it seems it’s a girl I am seeing both in face and body. With hips, curves, thighs, girl structure, I was confused because I thought I am a boy and boys don’t have these features.
As puberty came, I started getting sexually attracted to boys. I couldn’t believe it because I watched other boys liking girls. I hide it and tried to fight it out but the feelings were still there. I didn’t tell anyone these things happening to me. I continued faking to be a normal boy but of course people suspect something is wrong with me from my behaviour.
They call me a gay, bullied me and keep away from me. I thought at some point that I was a gay bec a u s e I like b o y s , so I joined g a y group in an online s o c i a l m e d i a , a d d e d gay people, even on Facebook. They told me I am the feminine gay type.
I met the feminine gay type, chatted with them but I couldn’t really relate with them.” Okeke’s case is intersex/ bisexual condition. Intersex is a general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with any of several variations in sex characteristics including chromosome, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals that do not fit the typical definitions for male or female bodies.
Bisexual or intersex is more prevalent in animals than man according to the Encyclopedia Britannica. It means having physical characteristics intermediate between a true male and a true female Intersex/ bisexual anatomy doesn’t always show up at birth. Sometimes, a person isn’t found to have intersex anatomy until he or she reaches a certain age or finds himself/herself an infertile adult or dies of old age and is autopsied.
Some people live and die with intersex anatomy without anyone (including themselves) knowing. intersex persons may also be assigned and raised up as a girl or boy but then identify with another gender later in life. (this is the case of Okeke), while some continue to identify with their assigned sex at birth.
Intersex conditions/trait or difference of sex development (DSDs) may include, congenital adrenal hyperplasia, five-alpha-reductase deficiency- androgen insensitive syndrome, gonadal dysgenesis, Turner syndrome, Klinefelter syndrome, mullerian agenesis, aphallia, ovotestes etc.
A medical Doctor and the Chief Executive Officer of All Souls Hospitals in Lagos, Dr Bola Adeyemi, said Intersex or Bisexual condition was complex but there are solutions in Nigeria to deal with it.
He noted that many illnesses people rush abroad to treat could be handled by competent doctors in Nigeria. Dr. Adeyemi noted that dealing with intersex issues would start from which sex the person involved thinks he/she belongs. In the case of Okeke, after growing up as a boy, she developed feminine traits including full-grown breasts and she feels more comfortable as a girl than a boy especially because she is attracted to a man sexually.
“There is need to determine many things through tests and investigation. Does the person have uterus, ovary and other feminine attributes? “In this case, Okeke is comfortable as a female and so if she does not have vagina, she could go for Vagina Noplatic. It is being done at the University Hospital in Ibaban (UCH).
With investigation, we should have other places in Nigeria. We have competent hands in the country to handle all medical cases but people do not respect doctors here. It is unfortunate.
“The case here is redeemable through several tests and surgery and the person will live a normal life,” Dr. Adeyemi explained. Okeke, currently in Port Harcourt has undergone a series of tests to determine her status sexually but money has been the handicap for her to achieve it. It was tough for her in her later stage in school and she barely managed to graduate at the Rivers State University of Science and Technology. She read Chemistry.
The stigma in the society has been a strong issue she faced over the years. She added: “I have been hiding my intersex traits for years now pretending to conform to the binary norms. I was scared to come out due to the ignorant, hateful, judgmental and cruel things I read and hear people say when they are talking about intersex.
I picked up courage and decided to come out public to be able to educate people as much as possible and help spread awareness on this issue, to reduce the hate, ignorance, confusion and bullying people like myself go through.
“As a result of my intersex traits, I have been exposed to all sort of public ridicule and hostility by ignorant and intolerant people, since we live in a very shallow and judgemental world; although I knew I was weird, I didn’t really know what it was. I used to think that intersex people, also known as Hermaphrodites, are people born with both genitals until I met lot of informative and inspirational people in intersex groups, who taught me that intersex is varied with a lot of classifications.
It doesn’t just deal with genitals alone. “My body wasn’t really male or female. I was born a mix, people didn’t believe when I told them. I was raised up in/living in, isn’t really the gender I identified with.
Everyone could see in my body language, mannerism, and even in my looks, I am more of a girl/lady. As a result, I stopped going outside. As for my genitals, it is complicated. I hate it when people ask me “do you have this or that?” It’s derogatory and annoying.
“I hide myself, trying to conform to a male gender so no one could tell I was different and get discriminated against, bullied or lynched by the ignorant in the society I live in. I was always covered in baggy male clothes to hide my body.
The reason why I continued living as a male even though I didn’t really conform was because switching over to the female side was going to be difficult for a lot of ignorant people in the society to come to terms with or learn to accept my intersex transition.
They won’t understand. My intersex situation affected my health and I had to deal with lot of illnesses such as asthma, depression, mood swings, severe acne, weight gain issues, low libido, cramps etc.
Finding out I was intersex, I went through lot of trauma, self-hate, isolation, depression and suicidal thoughts as well contemplating suicide on several occasions just to end it all. Last year, I took rodent poison due to depression.
When I took it, I felt weak and managed to enter the kitchen to drink palm oil after thinking otherwise. For five hours, I was unconscious and when I woke up, I felt tired and weak.
I drank plenty of water and milk. I guess because I took the palm oil early, it helped. I got better the third day but started stooling and vomiting. It was tough, close shave with death. “I felt I was punishing myself for a condition I had no control over and I did not bring it upon myself.
I felt so odd and unwanted; I didn’t even feel human anymore. I had to cut ties with all friends and family because no one knew or understood what I was going through and I didn’t know how to explain this to anyone.”
A psychologist to the Nigerian national football teams, Mr Robinson Okosun, said the situation of Okeke requires so much guts and self-belief. He explained that it was difficult for the society to embrace a strange situation and so the onus is on Okeke to brace up, confront and fight the odds.
Okosun played a key role in the life of a former national female team player, Iyabo Abade, who came out to confess her hermaphrodite status. “It was a difficult situation but somehow she was strong and now after surgery, Iyabo is now James Johnson, a man.
This case can also be handled following all medical processes and she needs a trained psychologist to be talking to her constantly. It is not easy but she must be strong and bold to face the circumstances around her,” Okosun said. Another medical doctor, Enitan Philips, said it was difficult to determine a bisexual case at tender age but added that the case of Okeke could be blamed on the parents especially the mother. The doctor said: “There are certain features you will see as being strange even from the tender age.
As parents, there is need to take good look at the children. Today, parents leave the care of their children to house helps or their relatives. If Afam Okeke enjoyed adequate care from the mother, some of the features would have been detected early enough. “The earlier this issue is tackled, the better. I have seen many cases and after surgery, they live normal life.
I advise Okeke to move fast on various tests to determine her status and the hormones prevalent in her system. People travel abroad for surgery but I am sure it can also be handled in Nigeria but it will cost so much because many doctors will come together to handle it.” Abade, now James Johnson, also spoke to our correspondent about her travails. He explained that it was tough for him.
He became male in 2004 after an operation at Midway Hospital (now the Olympia Medical Center), Los Angeles by a team led by Dr Gary Alter. The operation cost N5.9m ($29,000) and was funded by the Municipal Affairs Department of the Ministry of Federal Capital Territory.
In 2009, he went for second surgery courtesy of the family Worship Centre in Wuye, Abuja “I was able to get help here and there including a church in Abuja. When I was asked about my preference, I was already aware that I had more of male hormones. The female genitals in me were blocked and the breasts were also injected and my penis grew, so I became a man.
“Today, I can make love to a woman normally but I still need help to complete the surgery so that my sperm can raise children. I am yet to achieve this. It is complex but not impossible. I still need money for my final surgery abroad,” James Johnson explained. Okeke is optimistic of coming out of this precarious situation well. “I am strong and all I need is money. It is not compulsory I travel out. I took some tests in Port Harcourt recently and so much money was spent.
I need my life back as a normal person free to do anything like every other person. “It is a tough call but I seek help from Nigerians and with their help, I am hopeful all will be well very soon.”
Man butchers lover, sells each part to herbalists, clerics for N1000
Policemen attached to the Inspector- General of Police Special Intelligence Response Team (IRT) have arrested an herbalist, who killed his lover and sold her body parts to different herbalists, Muslim clerics and pastors for ritual at the rate of N1000 per part.
The policemen led by a Deputy Commissioner of Police, Mr Abba Kyari, have arrested 13 herbalists so far involved the butchering and selling of the victim’s body parts, while so many others are still at large. Our reporter gathered that the tracking and eventual arrest of the suspects in different parts of Ogun State wouldn’t have been possible, if not for the active participation of the Ogun State Commissioner of Police, Kenneth Ebrimson and his men in the investigation, which stretched into weeks. The prime suspect, Segun Olaniyi, claimed that the victim, Abosede Iyada, was his lover.
He also admitted orchestrating her murder for money-making ritual. The policemen launched investigation into the case on November 15 following a letter of complaint from Abosede’s parents, Mr and Mrs Segun Adeyemi, residing at Plot 2 Adio Idris Close, Oke Oko in Ifo Local Government Area.
The complaint was lodged at the IRT office, Ogun State annex. According to the distraught parents, Abosede, who was married and had a child left her husband’s house in the morning of that fateful day to visit Olaniyi popularly known as “Agba Isegun,”a native doctor at Ifo area.
Thereafter, Abosede’s whereabouts were unknown. Attempts to call her phone were abortive as it remained permanently switched off. After the policemen launched investigation into the disappearance of the woman, they started tracking her phone and that of Olaniyi. Olaniyi was tracked and arrested in Abeokuta area of Ogun State. During interrogation, he claimed that he and Abosede were lovers, that she came to visit him on November 15, but that on arrival at his place, he and his friends, Fagbon and AY, who were desperately in need of money, abducted and took her to a secluded area, where they butchered her and sold her body parts to interested buyers within Ogun and Lagos states.
It was gathered that following Olaniyi’s confessions, the policemen moved to Abeokuta and different villages like Ifo, Itori, Papalanto and Adigbe area where 11 suspects were arrested. Among those arrested, eight confessed to kidnapping and killing and buying of the body parts of the victim.
The number of those arrested soon increased to 13. A source said: “Abosede and the prime suspect were secondary school lovers. They later parted ways and married other spouses. We understand that Abosede had been having series of problems with her husband, who is a commercial motorcycle rider. Somehow, she reconnected with Olaniyi, who is now an herbalist. This reconnection with Olaniyi came after 15 years. Olaniyi, the herbalist, was perceived as being rich.
He used to give the deceased N2000 every day. She soon started going to visit him and soon, both of them started sleeping together. She would tell her husband that she was going to work, but would go to the suspect’s place. “She had earlier told the suspect to help her to become wealthy. So on that fateful day she came, Olaniyi told her to go to the stream with his two friends to strip and wash her hair. She went with them, they held her down inside the stream and stabbed her to death. They then brought her out and deboned her before selling her flesh.
One of the herbalists arrested told us that Olaniyi used charm placed on his tongue to speak to the victim, which made her to obey and do whatever he asked her to do.” Those arrested in connection with the killing and buying of Abosede’s body parts are; Segun Olaniyi (42), Ayodemeji Adileye (25) aka AY, also known as human being butcher, Babalola Akanbi (48), Adeifa Sogbeyinde (37), Rasaq Arabs (27), Sunday Akinyemi (41), Adewole Olwafemi (38) aka Pastor, Mustapha Ajibola (31) aka Alfa, Mustapha Iliya (30), Shilola Amodu (38) aka Alfa, Jamiu Abass (25) , Smooth Kazeem (37) aka Alfa and Adesola Oduyemi (56). The policemen recovered substances confessed by the suspects to be burnt human parts of Abosede. Some of the substances were in powdery and liquid forms. According to the suspects, it was Olaniyi that invited friends to come and slaughter his childhood sweetheart, who was married to another man. Our reporter gathered that on the fateful day that Abosede was murdered, she got to Olaniyi’s office, which was his shrine tired. Olaniyi had instructed a friend to go and buy food for the tired woman. Olaniyi put drug in the food, which made her weak and sleepy. Olaniyi later told her to go to the stream, by the side of his shrine, to strip and wash her hair.
He told his friends, Ayo and Akambi, to escort her to the stream for the spiritual bath. While she was washing her hair, Ayo pushed her head into the water and held her down; he then brought out a knife from his pocket and stabbed her to death. She was then carried out of the stream and laid on a dry ground.
It was right there on the ground, that Ayo, the human butcher, allegedly deboned her and sliced the flesh into tiny pieces for sale. A police source said: “They sold her head, bones and flesh to Alfas, pastors and others, who wanted to do money ritual.
The parts that were not needed for the ritual were roasted and the suspects ate them and drank spirit “to wash them down”. The IRT operatives recovered decomposed human breast, burnt human flesh mixed with liquid substance in a bottle and calabash.
One complete human foot, pieces of dry human skull, one Laura SUV with registration number KTU801Fp, one Bajaj Boxer motorcycle, marked JGB019VC, one unregistered Toyota Corolla and one Toyota Matrix marked AKD703FU, were also recovered.” Olaniyi, who said that he was from Osun State, explained that he dropped out of school when he was in primary five.
He is married to two women and has four childern. He said: “I’m a native doctor. I learnt welding work before I became a native doctor. It was at the back of Ojoba, Abule Egba area of Lagos, in the house of one native doctor, Dr. Iyawonu, that I learnt how to become a native doctor. I talk to oracle to give me solution to my customers’ health challenge
How killers of Maersk Shipping Line MD’s wife were arrested
Fresh information has emerged on how the police in Lagos State arrested two suspects who invaded the Ikoyi residence of the Managing Director of Maersk Shipping Line Company and killed his wife, Gildas Tohouo. According to the police, the suspects on Sunday night, invaded the Lugard, Ikoyi home of the shipping magnate and killed his wife.
The murder was done moments after one of their children just finished her birthday celebration. The invaders killed Gildas and injured her husband. It was gathered that the police, in an operation led by the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, arrested the killers less than an hour after the attack.
The alleged killers were later identified as Goke Olamilekan, an electrician in the estate and his friend, Akande Adeyinka. It was further gathered that Olamilekan allegedly invited Adeyinka to assist him carry out the dreadful act. Our reporter gathered that immediately Odumosu received the information about the attack on the foreigners, he immediately dashed to the scene of the crime. The CP was on patrol when he received the distress call. He swiftly moved to the scene, where he mobilised the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) and the Area Commander in the area. One of the two suspects, Akande, was alleged to have climbed a mango tree to evade arrest. He was found on the mango tree by Odumosu and was subsequently arrested.
He was then used as a bait to catch his partner in crime. A police source said: “That Sunday night operation was effective and timely. The CP personally led the operation that eventually witnessed the arrest of the suspects. The two suspects would have escaped from the scene, if the CP and his men had not arrived on time. In fact, we had all given up on finding the killers. It was the CP that vehemently insisted that before we leave, the whole estate should be combed thoroughly. We didn’t want to embark on any search because it was already dark, but he is the CP. It was late and everybody wanted to go home, but the CP insisted that we must get something that would help, in not just the investigation, but also to quickly arrest the perpetrators.
We didn’t agree with him, but we had to obey. We started searching the estate. Lo and behold, we saw someone hid-ing on a mango tree. It was unbelievable. It was incredible. That was how we caught one of the suspects. Those suspects would have escaped if the CP had not gone there himself. One of them was hiding and no one would have thought that anyone would climb a tree to hide.
“At a time, people felt that it was late and that everybody should go but the CP went to his vehicle and brought out a torch. He was beaming the torchlight in different directions, when he pointed it up the tree and there was one of the suspects hiding there.” Preliminary investigations by the police also revealed that the two suspects had planned the operation for three weeks, before eventually carrying it out last Sunday. The police also found out that the two suspects hid their weapons in one of the vacant flats in the estate and strategised on how to carry out the operation.
The electrician had told his partner to lie to the security guards attached to the estate that he was going to see a certain Mr Max, which coincidentally, is the name of one of the residents in the estate. Olamilekan had earlier told the police that the attack was carried out on the couple because he had asked for assistance, which they allegedly refused to render.
UNICEF-EU interventions strengthen healthcare delivery in Adamawa
In its efforts to strengthen healthcare delivery in Mubi South Local Government Area of Adamawa State, UNICEF, in conjunction with EU, has given a total facelift to healthcare facilities across the Local Government. The effort of UNICEF-EU in boosting healthcare delivery in the area has started yielding dividends as the total rejuvenation of the sector has led to a concomitant rise of health condition of indigenes. With this development, pregnant women, children and other vulnerable groups are positively affected in many facets of UNICEF- EU interventions in the rural areas.
Our Correspondent who went on a fact-finding mission to Mubi South Local Government Area of Adamawa State to ascertain the level of health interventions embarked upon by UNICEF spoke to the Executive Secretary Primary Health Care Agency Mr Kabiru Biru, who said UNICEF interventions continue to gather momentum. He said 108 Community Oriented Resource Persons (CORP) had been trained and mobilised to communities to sensitise the people.
Biru explained that apart from accepting the programmes of UNICEF, the CORP equally influenced functional ward development committees with the involvement of traditional and religious leaders in the local government area.
“To take the UNICEF interventions to the door posts of the community, CORP were equally trained to give treatment to malaria patients and other related diseases in the council area” Biru stated. He applauded the intervention efforts of the UNICEF-EU and contributing immensely to the supply of essential drugs, equipment, renovation of health facilities as well as building staff capacity. The Executive Secretary added that in an effort to meet the demands of the citizens especially at the “hard to reach” terrains, UNICEF supplied nine (9) motorcycles to CORP and Mama to Mama in mobilizing women for antenatal and immunization which has tremendously helped mothers and children from pregnancy to birth. According to him, to boost the coverage routine of UNICEF, 200 boreholes were dug with construction of toilets in all primary schools to improve the sanitary and hygienic conditions of the area through the establishment of “WASH”. While calling for the continuation of UNICEF interventions in the area, Biru said that over 15,500 women had benefitted from the free immunization and antenatal interventions thereby reducing cases of maternal mortality in the area. Also speaking the Director Public HealthCare Centre in Gella, Mr Marafa Musa, said UNICEF intervention has recently increased women participation from 10 to over 40 in a month. Musa noted that the patronage is encouraging as many families now use the centre more than before and thanked UNICEF for bringing such initiative.
At Lamorde PHC, Mrs Rifkatu Joel explained that between 50 and 70 patients attend the antenatal clinics daily while outpatients record between 20 and 50 daily. Joel thanked UNICEF for the renovation of the centre, provision of adequate drugs and mosquito nets as well as fencing the entire premises to checkmate the activities of miscreants. Commenting, a mother Hajya Safiyu Bello said she enjoyed patronizing the maternity clinics which makes for safe delivery. She said: “Many pregnant women rely on the intervention of the clinics due to the awareness and sensitisation by the Mama to Mama group and the CORP. My appeal to UNICEF is to continue with the interventions to save many women and children lives.” The District Head of Mubi South of Adamawa State, Alhaji Sali Bello said the many interventions of UNICEF through the support of EU have brought a lot of live saving changes to mothers in the state. He maintained that before the UNICEF intervention in his domain, pregnant women had it difficult and rough to attend hospitals because of certain traditional and religious beliefs which made them decide to give birth at home. Alhaji Bello the Hakimi Gude in Mubi South Local Government Area of Adamawa State who stated this in his palace said the coverage of EU-MNCHN projects at designated communities in Mubi South has rekindled the hope of the women and children. According to him, “pregnant women hardly accessed healthcare delivery easily and when they were fortunate to access one, they ended up in healthcare facilities that are often inadequate without trained personnel.”
The Royal Father said that the introduction and training of the “Community Oriented Resource Person” (CORP), actually helped in creating awareness in the communities. On antenatal, Hakimi Gude recalled that before now, many mothers sometimes refused antenatal due to poverty and lack of awareness, except when labour becomes complicated, in which case they would end up being rushed to medical facilities as emergencies. He noted that in such situations some of them lose their lives or their babies. While applauding the efforts of the EU-UNICEF in renovating some moribund health care centers in the community, he said “before the intervention, some of the buildings were inside a large grassland and homes to undesirable reptiles.
The intervention is unquantifiable and should be encouraged by all.” Speaking in the same vein, the Officer In Charge of Maternal and Child Health- Care in Gella Public Health Centre, Mrs Susana T Moni said the response by expected mothers had been encouraging. Mrs Susana Moni said: “Sometimes we visited them at home twice a week as sign of encouragement and to enable them to respond positively to their medications as and when due.”
She advised couples to plan their pregnancies, attend antenatal as a way of reducing health risks, and thanked UNICEF for the intervention, assuring them that the items would be used judiciously used for the purpose they’re meant for. Also speaking, Madam Saa’datu Ibrahim of Yahuma ward said: “I never gave birth in the hospital even though I am aware of the assistance from UNICEF and other foreign donors.” Ibrahim appealed for other incentives like details and antiseptics apart from the mosquito nets that will help the babies.
LAGOS EXPLOSION: Community becomes hostile
…threatens to beat up journalists
Residents of Iyana Odo in the Isheri-Olofin, Igando area of Lagos State, who were supposed to be mourning their dead following the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) pipeline that exploded on Thursday, have turned their anger to journalists. It was a narrow escape for the Saturday Telegraph team who visited the scene of the explosion and the community to get a firsthand story on the explosion. Right from the entrance of the street that leads to the explosion site, the residents, who claimed to have been maligned by the press, suspects any unfamiliar face to be a reporter.
They claimed that journalists had not been fair in their reportage of the deadly incident. The grouse, our reporter gathered from a source, who preferred to be anonymous, was what the community perceived as an expose that could put them on a collision course with the state government. It was further gather that the burnt wooden bridge, which link Iyana Odo to Diamond Estate and its neighbours, such as Gloryland, Peace and Idowu Egba estates, is the main source of income to many in the neighbourhood. The people, according to our source, have vowed to protect what they see as means of livelihood with the last drop of their blood.
Apart from that, the site of the explosion, according to the information gathered, had also been a conduit pipe for siphoning petroleum products by youths of the community.
“This is our farm and any attempt by anybody or group of person to take overe our farm will be highly resisted. We don’t want government presence here as we are comfortable with the way we leave in this community. We don’t have another means of livelihood and if the reports are geared towards drawing government attention to this community, it won’t succeed. “Explosions happen everywhere, ours should not be seen from a different light. We don’t want your useless report on this issue, as we are capable of taking care of the damaged wooden bridge,” said one of the angry men, who confronted our reporter. The burnt wooden bridge links the community with Diamond and Gloryland estates. It was gathered that motorists pay N100 as toll fee while pedestrians are made to cough up the sum of N50 if they must make use of the bridge. However, the incident that left the bridge partially burnt have not deterred the residents from collecting money from whoever that wishes to make use of it. Though motorists now take the Expressway because the bridge is broken into two. Pedestrians who use it has to meander to avoid falling into the river.
The fire, which was said to have started around 6.30am on Thursday, was said to have badly injured one person and killing another. The burnt bridge was made of planks in the area. While the residents said that a pastor had gone to the river beneath the wooden bridge with another member for spiritual cleansing, another version said suspected vandals, who frequent the vicinity to siphon fuel had ruptured the NNPC pipeline for several days without covering it up.
The bridge, which links Idowu Egba and Ayobo communities, was also gutted. The fire spread from Iyana Odo to Idowu Egba Road to Baruwa, Ipaja and Ayobo areas. Other places are Isheri Pako area inside Peace Estate. It was gathered that the men, who were not aware that petrol from the vandalised pipeline had flowed into the stream, lit a candle and were engulfed in flames.
A resident, who craved anonymity, said upon sighting the fire, the pastor conducting the cleansing, attempted to escape but was caught up by the fire. “Those caught up in the inferno were having a spiritual bath around a stream in the area.
The pastor sustained serious burns while his second was burnt beyond recognition. However, the pas- LAGOS EXPLOSION tor was admitted to the Igando General Hospital for treatment.” At the Alimosho General Hospital, Igando, the Medical Director/CEO, Dr. Madewa Adebajo, confirmed that the hospital received one patient on Thursday that was severely burnt. He said: “One person was brought in here with high degree of burns. After we administered first aid and what he needed at the time, we had to refer him to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUCOM), Ikeja, because we do not have burns and shock equipment here to manage the case. “We did all we could at the time and promptly referred the patient for better management in the teaching hospital.
The little information gathered from the patient indicated that they were two at the time of the incident and that the second died immediately. We were shocked by reports, which have been quoting that two, some actually said that three persons died in the inferno. We can’t confirm that here because we don’t have such information,” Adebajo said. Men of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Rapid Response Squad and policemen from neighbouring divisions were said to have responded promptly to the disaster. A police source, according to reports, also said that pipeline vandalism appeared a popular venture among the residents of the area.
The source added that sacks used to convey stolen fuel were recovered in the bush. “That place is where they siphon fuel regularly. The residents cannot say they don’t know what is happening. We found kegs and sacks. Inside the sacks were nylons, where they pour the fuel.
They use the sacks to conceal and convey the fuel,” the source was quoted to have said. But in quick reaction, another source in the community, who refused to give his name, alleged that policemen were the ones actually aiding the vandals.
“They come to the site every week to collect their share. We learnt they collect N500,000 every week from the vandals to conceal the crime. We are in trouble in this community,” the source added. The Public Relations Officer, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, Nosa Okunbor, who confirmed one death, said the second victim was in a critical condition. “What we gathered from bystanders was that the victims were performing a spiritual cleansing when the fire met them there and burnt them. But the pastor escaped. We saw the sponge they used for the spiritual exercise at the scene,” he said. And the Public Affairs Officer of the Lagos State Fire Service, Jamiu Dosumu, also quoted by Punch newspaper, had said that two fire stations deployed men in the scene to extinguish the fire.
Dosumu said: “The fire started from a pipeline, went through a canal and met some people undertaking a spiritual bath. One of them died, while the other suffered severe burns. Fire stations from Ikotun and Abesan responded to the emergency.” Meanwhile, another report by The Punch quoted the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Bala Elkana, to have said that a pastor and one other suspect, identified as Smart Adeyemi, had been arrested. Elkana, according to the report, explained that the pastor had denied knowledge of the activities of vandals in the area, but when his premises were searched, kegs of stolen fuel were recovered.
“The fire started deep in the bush. The only building close to the scene is owned by a pastor. Looking closely at him, you will know he is aware of what is happening. The police interrogated him, but he denied the knowledge of anything. The police decided to search the vicinity and found a lot of kegs of siphoned fuel, all of them hidden in his house. He is already in custody.”
Grand pianos, mattresses, TVs, computers top list of items guests steal from hotels in Europe –Report
It’s becoming alarming in Nigeria, say hoteliers
Hotel guests appear to have graduated from carting away complimentary items in the room meant for their use and comfort to carrying bulk items such as grand piano, luxury TV set and mattresses. This is according to a recent study by Wellness Heaven and published by: www.insights.ehotelier. com However, what is most worrisome is that this development is not limited to Europe and other parts of the world alone but also rampant in Nigeria.
A number of hoteliers spoken to by Saturday Telegraph expressed concerns over the high rate of pilfering of such items as face and body towels, tea cups and pots, wine glasses and drinking glasses, soap and other toiletries and in some extreme cases bed linens, compressor of air conditioners and boards of TV set.
Wellness Heaven in the study polled 1,157 hoteliers on most commonly stolen items from the rooms, with particular reference on the attitude or behavoiur of guests in 4-star and 5-star hotels. The main result of the study: The overwhelming majority of guests steal towels and bathrobes- perhaps as goodies for the next spa break? These two objects of desire are closely followed by hangers, pens, and cutlery. In addition to these “ordinary” items, there are a number of spectacular outliers that suggest a brisk imagination of the delinquents.
Items in this category are bathroom fittings, with the head of a rain shower, a hydro massage shower, a toilet seat, a drainpipe or even an entire sink, rating high as reported by a Berlin hotel. In Italy, an hotelier reported the missing of a grand piano.
“Once I walked through the lobby, I noticed that something was missing, and soon after I learned that three unknown men in overalls had taken away the grand piano, and it never reappeared, of course,” said the hotelier. In England, an hotelier reported the missing of room numbers from the hotel room door. “We didn’t notice until the next guest could not find his room,” said the hotel director.
While in a hotel in France, a guest was caught trying to steal a stuffed boar’s head. At a later date, he did receive this trophy: friends bought the precious piece from the hotel and gave it to him as a wedding gift. In a hotel near Salzburg, the wooden benches from a sauna were stolen. The “private sauna” was located on the terrace of a spa suite.
The benches were made of fragrant pine wood, which probably stirred the guest’s desire. Only when a subsequent guest criticised the absence of the benches that the hotelier noticed the theft. Some of other items on the list included entire stereo system stolen from the spa area as reported by an hotelier in Germany, with the thieves said to have dismantled the entire sound equipment overnight and loaded it in their car before they left. Stealing of flowers was reported from a resort in Maldives. But when classifying the delinquents by nationality, a different picture emerges.
It turns out, for example, that German and British hotel guests follow a rather boring theft behaviour: In addition to towels and bathrobes, primarily cosmetics and toiletries are in the focus. In contrast, Austrians snitch in a more pleasure-oriented way: dishes and coffee machines appear high up in their theft ranking.
For Americans, pillows and batteries appear as the prime objects of desire. Italians seem to prefer wine glasses as a hotel souvenir, while the hairdryer ranks high up in the Swiss ranking. The French, on the other hand, steal in a more spectacular manner: they represent the nation that is attracted mainly to TV sets and remote controls. Dutch hotel guests’ favourites include light bulbs and toilet paper.
A total of 634 hoteliers from 4-star hotels and 523 from 5-star hotels were surveyed to determine the behaviour of thieves depending on their wealth. As it turns out, “Greed is good” seems to be a reliable motto especially for the well-heeled 5-star clientele. The probability of high-quality TV sets being stolen in 5-star hotels is 9 times higher in comparison to the 4-star segment.
Similarly, artworks are popular objects of desire in luxury hotels (5.5 times higher theft probability)s. Tablet computers and mattresses are also being stolen a lot more frequently in 5-star hotels. 4-star hotel guests are content with less spectacular gifts: towels and hangers tend to be in higher demand than in 5-star hotels. The typical 4-star hotel guest is especially fond of practical items such as batteries and remote controls.
The coffeemaker, which is so popular among Austrian guests, is also soughtafter by luxury-minded 5-star guests, as we observe a 5.3-fold increase in theft statistics. Hoteliers’ theft reports about toilet paper rolls only come from the 4-star segment. For luxury travellers, there seems to be no additional need for hygiene in this area. Tablet computers, often referred to as “SuitePads” in the high-priced room categories, are stolen 8.2 times more frequently in 5-star hotels.
Such tablets usually have a value of approx. 420 euros and tend to be popular souvenirs among luxury travellers. Even expensive luxury mattresses, often worth several thousand euros, are not immune to disappear: the probability for their theft is 8.1 times higher in 5-star hotels. Some hoteliers informed that carting away of bulky items only happens in the middle of the night – using elevators, which lead directly to the underground parking. Some luxury oriented guests add the hotel’s blanket to their luggage.
Theft of this object is 3.9-fold increased in 5-star hotels. The survey was conducted in September and October 2019, with 634 hoteliers surveyed in the 4-star segment, and 523 in the 5-star segment. Giving insight into the situation in Nigeria, Gbenga Dauud Sumonu, who is the Managing Consultant, Complete Hospitality Services Limited and the First Vice President of Nigerian Hotel and Catering Institute (NHCI), said stealing of items in hotel rooms is becoming alarming. ‘‘It is very alarming now because they see it as picking souvenirs and no more as theft, which makes the situ- ation really bad for the hotels,’’ he said, adding that: ‘‘They pick towels as souvenirs.’’
Other items listed by him include: Wine glasses, cutlers, tea cups and tea pots in the rooms as well as room brochures and directories. While soap, body cream, shampoo, body cream, taste paste and brush and shower cap and other toiletries meant for use in the rooms by the guests are often taken away by them. On stealing of bigger items, Sumonu said: ‘‘It is not common to have a guest steal a bigger item like bed sheet and other movable items. But sometimes when the bed sheets are multiple layers they tend to steal one from it.’’
While confirming the prevalence of theft of items listed by Sumonu, the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Compass Hotels and Suites Limited, Samson Aturu, who is also the President of Hospitality and Tour ism Management Association of Nigeria (HATMAN), however, stated that in from the mid-1980s to 1990s stealing of bigger items was very rampant in hotel rooms in Nigeria.
Such items as compressor of air conditioners and boards of television set, he said top the list of bulky items stolen by guests. On the gender aspect of such theft, Sumonu and Aturu said that female guests are the most guilty, saying that a number of them usually accompany the male guests. On strategies to curb the prevalence, Sumonu said it is to apply the standard check out procedure and also increase surveillance and use of CCTV.
In addition, Aturu said hotels put notices on the doors of the room cautioning guests on theft of items in the room. ‘‘Standard check out practice, third eye by using the CCTV, security alertness by the staff. And when a guest comes in with a small bag and is checking out with a big bag you have to be suspicious, ‘’ said Sumonu.
‘‘One of the strategies we use is putting notices in the rooms, at the back of the door to let guests know that every item in the room is for their comfort,’’ said Aturu, adding that: ‘‘Another measure is checking out procedure.
When you are checking out, it is very essential that you should notify the receptionist and the receptionist will now instruct the porter or the page boy to go and assist with your luggage and in the process verify to see that all the amenities are intact. ‘‘We also have plainclothes security men who are positioned at different corridors of the hotel. Most of the times the guests do not even known that they are security men.’’
Orifite killings: Youths flee homes as JTF storms community
Orifite community in Ekwusigo Local Government Area of Anambra State has become a ghost town following the fleeing of youths and some villagers in the area since the deployment of the Joint Task Force (JTF) made up of the police and soldiers. It would be recalled that two masquerade cult groups had been at war over who heads the traditional leadership of the community’s masquerade organisation which led to the clash by both rival groups of Otu Eke and Out- Afor respectively. The clash led to the invitation of the rival groups by the Anambra State police command. But one of the groups, Otu-Eke, led by the lawyer of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOP) Barr Ifeanyi Ejiofor refused to honour the invitation. It was the refusal of the Out-Eke masquerade cult to honour the invitation that led to the police embarking on the arrest of the group who are also members of IPOB.
It was this that led to the killing and burning of the Area Commander Ichi town and the officerin- charge of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) Orifite, Abbey Oliver and Joseph Akubo by suspected youths of the masquerade cult.
When this reporter visited the town youths in the area have taken flight for fear of being arrested by the Joint Security Task Force. Some villagers who are scared of being arrested fled also. Everistus Nwosu, a trader told Saturday Telegraph that: “The Police and army people are so many and the way they are operating in our community shows that innocent people would be at the receiving end in the aftermath of these killings.
“So you cannot expect youths in our town to be walking about the town freely without the police trying something funny and it may lead to another clash between the boys and the security task force.”
Mrs. Ngozika Izuchukwu a teacher told Saturday Telegraph that there have been reports of harassment by some policemen of the villagers. She said: “I don’t know how true it is but people have been complaining of harassment by security men who claim that they are searching for the boys that killed the OC SARS and the Area Commander. So everybody is afraid of the security men and our town is under tension.” Currently, over 80 policemen and soldiers are already in charge of security formations and major flash points of crime in the community.
According to the President General of Orifite Improvement Union (OIU) Sir Sunny Igboanuzue, “You know that we have banned all masquerade groups in our town because of this incident and the presence of security men here is to maintain law and order and we have not experienced any problem between the community and the security men. “People should remain calm and go about their lawful duties because we are also here to settle whatever fallout that may arise.” According to the public relations officer of the command in Anambra State Mr Mohammed Haruna who spoke to Saturday Telegraph there are no proofs of any act of harassment by policemen.
He further stated that such allegations should be put in writing by the affected villagers and forwarded to the office of the Commissioner of police for necessary action. Haruna also stated that the prime suspect in connection with the killing of the OC SARS and the Area Command for Ekwusigo is still at large and that the command is continuing the hunt for him and his cohorts. But Haruna contended that the officers and men deployed in the community were given express order to maintain law and order in the area and that anyone saying something contrary is only trying to deceive the public.
FIRE IN MARKETPLACES: We don’t believe in insurance policy –Traders
In the face of heavy losses incurred by traders across the country in some recent major market fire outbreaks, many of them are still reluctant to insure their products and businesses or are ignorant of what insurance policy could do to help them maintain balance whenever such disaster happens. ISIOMA MADIKE, in this report, captures the losses, the ignorance and the benefits, which the traders often overlook
Over five major markets across the country have experienced fire outbreaks in recent time, resulting in losses worth billions of naira. It started on Wednesday, October 16, when a fuel tanker fire accident claimed several lives, buildings and properties in the famed Onitsha Main Market in Anambra State. The market is regarded as one of the busiest in the Eastern part of Nigeria.
The traders in that market were still agonising over the incident when another occurred on October 21. This time around, shops were razed, and goods worth millions of naira were reportedly consumed at the Santana Market, Sapele Road in Benin, Edo State capital. Balogun Market on Lagos Island, known for its wide selection of colorful Nigerian and imported fabrics and school bags, was equally on fire on November 5. It was speculated that the fire was sparked by an electrical fault. Before then, a massive fire had swept through the popular Oko-Baba Sawmill, a slum market in Ebute-Meta area of Lagos, on November 3. Several shanties were said to be up in flames as residents ran helter and shelter trying to salvage their belongings.
The GSM market in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, was also on fire in which numerous properties and shops were reportedly destroyed. The market, popularly known as Jagwol, is located at the Post Office area of the Maiduguri metropolis.
It is a hub for GSM traders and artisans and the biggest computer village in the city. And recently on December 1, fire again destroyed over 30 shops and damaged other properties at the Owode-Oniri Market in Lagos State.
The cause of the inferno was unknown as there is no power supply within the market. However, in separate interviews with the traders, many of them said they would not insure their goods or businesses because they believed that insurance companies were not sincere. There were also those who were ignorant of how the insurance policy works.
For instance, former chairman, Bag Sellers Association of Nigeria, Balogun Market branch, Ignatius Akunedoziobi, said the traders were usually reluctant because most insurance companies delayed in paying compensation over property insured whenever tragedy occurred. He said: “The experience of a few of our members that registered with them (insurance firms) is unpleasant.
These insurance companies are diligent in collecting premiums but when it is time for compensation, they will start demanding unnecessary things. One of our members was asked to bring receipts for goods bought many years before the fire outbreak that gutted his shop sometimes last year.’’ Another victim of the recent fire outbreak at Balogun Market, Peter Chima, also said the confidence many traders had in insurance companies, was gradually fading away.
Chima said he stopped insuring his goods because he did not see the need for it. But in what looked like a contradiction, Chima said he regretted not insuring his goods, adding that he lost goods worth several thousands of naira in the recent fire outbreak in the market. “All that insurance people are concerned about is the collection of premiums, after that, nothing else.
At least, we expected them to tell us what happens to the money if no losses are recorded after a period of time,” he said. Motunrayo Adeneye, who also lost her goods in the fire that gutted Balogun Market, told one of our reporters that her grouse with the insurance companies was that they asked too many questions and are usually not sincere about the policy they want to sell. They can hardly get traders selling here at Balogun to buy their policies because of their insincerity, she said.
“Some of us learnt our lessons from people who insured their businesses and got nothing when disaster occurred. That is the time you see insurance companies coming up with funny clauses that were not initially disclosed.
At the end of the day, we see such exercise as a one in futility,” Adeneye said. The Babaloja (Leader) of the famed Ketu-Ikosi Fruit Market in the Ketu area of Lagos State, Lambe Dauda, said that the premiums charged by the insurance companies scared off the traders, who did not see the need for it in the first instance. He said: “Their premiums are just too high; some of us collected loans from the banks to float our businesses and we are still repaying with interest. We pay close to N2 million per annum as rent on our shops; this is apart from other expenses. So, it will be good if insurance companies can bring down the premium they demand.
That way many of our members could be persuaded to give it a try. “I personally think it’s necessary in view of the recent fire disasters across many markets, not only in Lagos here but all over the country. It’s a welcome idea if you ask me but the insurance companies should be sincere and open for us to understand their policies and the benefits. Most of us are not too literate, so, we need to fully understand the import of what they are selling to us and how such could be of benefit to the traders on the long run.”
Also speaking to Saturday Telegraph, the Financial Secretary of the Ketu-Ikosi Fruit Market, Tajudeen Talin, said the traders had not thought of insuring the market. Talin said insurance operators had not been visiting them regularly.
“The last insurance company that was here came two years ago and we introduced the company to our members, afterwards we did not see them again. Our members lack enlightenment; they find it hard to inculcate other things into their business apart from buying and selling. However, I believe it’ll be wrong to force people to take an insurance policy without proper education.”
Talin also said that some traders had not taken up any insurance policy because of their religious beliefs. He recalled that some insurance companies had come to the market to sell their products but most traders were not interested.
The Admin Secretary of Lagos Mainland Saw Millers Association of Nigeria, Nurudeen Lawal, said that there was nothing like insurance policy in Oko- Baba Sawmill, a slum market at Ebute- Meta, Lagos.
He however, believes that no insurance company will want to take such risk because, according to him, the environment already looks like it is prone to fire outbreak. He said: “The risk will be too much for them (insurance firms), so, this market is not attractive to them.
Some banks have been here to address us on a number of times. One insurance company at Sabo was also here. We actually listened to them but when they see that the policy and packaging they want to introduce to us do not favour them, they just stylishly promised to return to us. But that never happens. “I think our industry is not the type they can invest in because of the high risk.
Our market is built into a residential area and that makes our merchandise more vulnerable to fire incidents. The fire that happened recently started from a small 8 by 10 house and the owner of the house was not around. If we had taken an insurance policy, how would they have compensated everybody?”
Brendan Okafor of Emmy Bright Company, who sells clothes and footwear at the popular Dugbe Market in Ibadan, Oyo State, said he did not believe in insurance policies. “I don’t have any insurance policy.
I don’t have fire insurance and this is because insurance in Nigeria is not something to write home about. They are not relevant in Nigeria. This is because many people do not believe in it. “If one subscribes to it, by the time you need their intervention, they will be telling you all sorts of stories; dribbling you around like a fool. It may be working well in overseas, but in Nigeria, it is a different ball game. It is a good idea, no doubt, if only practitioners in Nigeria can make it work like those in other climes,” he said.
Asked what preventive measure he takes to safeguard his goods and business since he did not believe in insurance cover, the trader said: “I have fire extinguisher and other fire preventive devices in case there is any incident of fire outbreak. To the insurance companies, my advice is that they should be transparent in their dealings. Let them explain in details the contents of the policy they are selling.
Trust is everything. People don’t trust the insurance companies and they too are not helping matters as they hide some secrets from customers at the point of taking a policy. That supposed not to be. “They should explain to the customers the workings of whatever policy being taken. This is because not all traders are literate enough to understand how it works. If there is no trust, many people like me will not want to take insurance policies.
If there is any incident of fire outbreak, the insurance operators should come out clean and not play any prank on the investment of the policy holders.” Another trader in Dugbe Market, Emeka Sunday of E.C. Diamond Company, however, has a different view about insurance policies.
Though he said he was not sure whether his boss had ever taken any insurance policy before. “I am not sure my boss insured this shop or the goods in it because I am not the owner. I am not even sure if any trader around here believes in fire insurance policy. But by the time I have my own shop I will make sure I insure it because of the benefits. It will not only be my shop but my property generally. Anything can happen anytime and so to be on the safe side and guard against severe losses, the best thing is to take insurance cover. It is very essential. Though many people don’t like it because of the high premium they will pay,” he said.
A woman trader, who sells travel bags also in Dugbe Market but preferred to be anonymous, said she took Life Insurance policy some years ago, but she was no longer active in payment of premium.
She said that she refused to take fire insurance policy because she did not believe in insurance companies redeeming the loss through compensation payment. Apart from relying on the power of prayers, she said she was always very cautious not to allow fire to break out in her shop. In view of the seemingly ignorant position of the traders concerning insurance policies and addressing issues related to the risk protection and incessant market fires, Saturday Telegraph, asked some insurance experts how fire-risk protection could be worked into the architecture of market administration across the country.
Head, Corporate Communications, Nigerian Insurers’ Association, Davies Iyasere, said: “If you want me to answer it, I’d just say, education, awareness, and preaching.
“It’s like trying to convert one from a position to another; you need to really classify it first. People talk of one concept, the mosquito marketing. I don’t know if you have heard it before. If a mosquito visits your ear, when it comes, it makes some noise. If you want to kill it, it flies away. It comes back in the next five or three minutes, if you want to kill it, it tries to draw your attention that it is still around. I believe that it will work; to continue to reinforce messages to them.
“Let them know and if there are beneficiaries among them, those that have had encounters with insurance and had benefited from it, their testimonies will really go a long way. I believe that some of them are also not opening up to other viewpoints because none of them will claim not to have come across one insurance marketer or the other but it’s just that they consider insurance as some form of robbery or some kind of illicit endeavour. That concept, that idea about insurance has to change.
It is a way of life and the sooner they make it a way of life the better for them.” On the issue of high premium the traders complained about and the possibility of not being able to receive claims in the event of a disaster, Iyasere believes it’s a matter of understanding. He said that the traders needed to understand that insurance people were in business also.
He said: “I’d just recommend that they go to an insurance agent or broker, who will explain the details of the insurance contract to them so that they can understand it fully because, if you buy a car and you insure it against accident or fire and you run into a mob, and they damage it. That one is not like normal accident or fire.
It’s as a result of mob action. You didn’t hit another vehicle, you were not just driving on the road and your vehicle got burnt, but you perhaps ran into a mob and because of mob action, they damaged your vehicle. “If you come and claim under that, they will tell you it’s not covered.
Those are the details they need to know; the exclusions, the extensions that the package they are taking, covers. So, I will advise that they ask the insurance marketers to explain to them all the details of everything, the type of insurance product they are taking, covers. “On high premium, they should know that premium is a function of what you are covering. If you buy a Gwagon, for instance, for N10 million, it would not be the same as somebody who is using a Corolla car of less value.
So, it’s a function of the volume, or the premium you attach to what your policy covers. “If you buy a G-wagon and you want to cover it as just a third party vehicle you pay five per cent, but if you want to do it for comprehensive, you pay like 10 per cent of the cost. Maybe through negotiation they can come down to eight, seven or five, as the case may be, but it is the premium you place on your property that determines what you pay and what you get when it is time for claims.
“What I’m saying in effect is that what you pay determines what you get when something happens. If you do a third party for five per cent, you can’t expect that when you damage your vehicle, you ask them to pay.
Third party only covers the other person you have damaged his vehicle but if it’s comprehensive, you can take care of your own, and that of the other person. So, they need to be educated, they need to be enlightened, and they need to be constantly engaged.” Another insurance expert, who does not want his name in print, said: “Fire insurance is an affordable insurance policy yet most people do not subscribe to it.
The level of public apathy towards fire insurance can be attributed to various factors such as lack of confidence in the insurance sector (owing to the belief that insurance companies do not pay claims), poor awareness creation by both the government and the insurance companies, traditional and religious beliefs (a judgmental attribute that holds strongly to the ‘god’ or ‘deity’ factor) that defines the way of our people.”
Additional reports from Sola Adeyemo (Ibadan) and Oluwasanya Oluwatoni
Dame Edith Okowa: Benefactor per excellence
he streak of impact of her milk of human kindness, fondness and affinity with the less-privileged has marked her out as a woman of benevolence. This uncommon virtue which Dame Edith Okowa, wife of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, has continued to display singles her out as a model and succour provider.
Her outstanding passion for the plight of the needy played out glaringly again as 42 orphanages and five adopted families in Asaba joined in the memorable activities to mark the World Orphans Day on Thursday, November 7, 2019.
The event, which came alive in the emerald ambiance of Government House, Asaba, was hosted by ever cheerful Mrs. Okowa, Founder of the 05 Initiative.
The Director-General, 05 Initiative, Mrs. Oghenekevwe Agas, set a tone for the day in her welcome address, saying that the World Orphanage Day 2019 was being marked for people to “remember that there are persons in our midst that need our attention.”
She was speaking about orphans, their plight and the need to extend care to them for active and purposeful living.
“A child is made to suddenly change and become timid. These set of people are in pain that cannot be described,” she said.
These are the less-privileged, those whose circumstance of birth may have regrettably pushed them to become destitute, unfortunate, indigent, deprived, poor, needy and lowly. They are children who through no fault of theirs found themselves in the very discomforting situation of having no parental care. They have lost touch with natural parents who brought them into the world and are now alone, with a bleak future staring at them.
Faced with a hopeless situation, orphans go through hardship and often do not receive the right attention of affection necessary for them to properly develop. They need care that will provide for them the opportunity to have a better life.
Dame Okowa began the occasion by raising awareness about the dilemma of children without parents, and admonished those who may not be biological parents of needy children on the significance of caring for them and extending human kindness.
She said: “These children see you as the father they never had, as the mother they never had. The world we are living in today is a world that has become pervasive; men of 70 years sleep with children. Today, the Lord is saying to us that today is not a show, but to remind us about our responsibility to children; that the children we come across may not be our biological children, but we have a responsibility to them. It is not about the position you occupy, but about the heart you carry.”
She drew inspiration for her passion to extend compassion to the needy from Matthew 25:35-36 in the Holy Bible where Jesus Christ said: “For I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you come to Me.”
Indeed, the Delta First Lady has lived up to the demands of this inspiration with her 05 Initiative which was established in 2016 and pronto, began the assignment of touching lives by feeding the hungry, providing shelter for the homeless, clothing the naked, care or the sick and visiting the prisoner.
Of course, the United Nations set aside November of every year to raise awareness of the plight of orphans and to re-evaluate the way children around us are treated, especially those not our biological children, who lost parenting under varying circumstances, making them vulnerable to societal storms.
As with previous years, Mrs Okowa gave various food items and cash to 42 orphanages and five indigent families she adopted as her responsibility to provide for. The items were arranged neatly, each bearing the name of the orphanage it had been assigned to. The orphanages are located in different parts of the state, and the adopted families include Abojei, with four boys and one girl who lost their parents. They hail from Onicha-Ugbo in Aniocha North Local Government Area; Pastor Martins where both parents died in an accident.
The third is the Favour family of two children who lost their parents; the fourth is the quintuplet children. The five babies lost their 29-year-old mother after she gave birth to them through a caesarean session, and it was her first pregnancy. Okowa, in her kind heartedness has continued to provide the needs of the families, ensuring that they do not lack.
A cleric, who was at the event, Bishop Nuel Ikeakanam, prayed and asked God to “give us men and women and strategies to see that the vulnerable in the society can receive help.”
Rev. Canon Kingsley Dieli, a caregiver at St. Barnabas Anglican Orphanage/Motherless Babies Home, Asaba was full of praise for Dame Okowa, who he addressed as “Mama Delta’’. He said: “Mama Delta, you may not know the extent to which what you are doing has affected lives. We thank you for what you are doing; for going all out to help the needy.”
Another observer, Mrs Uju Ntasiobi, said: “Mrs Okowa has opened her heart to receive God’s vision, by which she is challenging our sensibilities and calling attention to these types of people in society.”
She prayed that God would raise godly men and women to join her to fulfil this vision.
“The vision will not end after her husband’s tenure as governor in Government House, Asaba. Today, the orphaned child in Delta can smile because you are there. The sickle cell child can smile because you are there. May God bless the day you were born,” she said, adding that she would receive grace to take her mission to greater heights.
Dame Okowa, who laced her exhortation with choruses of praise to the Almighty God, explained that although 05 Initiative had celebrated World Orphans Day every year since 2016, “the 2019 celebration is particularly outstanding.”
She said: “Every child has a right to protection and is entitled to a complete and fulfilled life. But my heart bleeds each time I see parents especially mothers maltreating their domestic staff. Our aim of gathering here annually is not for show, but to talk to ourselves on ways to add value to the lives of these children.
“As part of our mission to feed the hungry and provide shelter for the homeless, this year’s celebration will not be different; we have food items for the various orphanages and families.”
Of course, the ceremony was made possible by those partnering with her to give care to orphans, and they were duly acknowledged by her.
She said: “Let me appreciate our caregivers, thank you for creating an atmosphere of love for my children, it is indeed a huge task. I urge you not to relent, keep showing kindness. God is not unjust to forget your labour of love, you will reap in due season if you faint not”.
A special thank you was also extended to the corporate organisations that supported her financially. She pleaded with parents to plant good seeds for the sake of their children, declaring that just one good seed will yield a bountiful harvest. “Go the extra mile; give that child many reasons to live so we can change our world, one person at a time.”
Okowa at a point was taken aback and saddened by the activities of some unscrupulous persons working in some orphanages. She admonished those caregivers involved in selling children to stop the evil activities.
“These children are not your own; I am not referring to all caregivers but I am talking to the few that are involved. If you don’t stop, the police will be invited into the matter,” she warned.
Obviously pleased with the magnanimous activities of Okowa, Mrs. Chukwudum Presca of Shalom Orphanage, Ibusa said: “I am very happy and excited that we have a mother like Her Excellency, Mrs. Edith Okowa in this state. She is a blessing to Delta state and to the orphans. I pray for her that God will bless her and bring people like Aaron and Hai to hold her hand, so that this initiative will not die.”
For Miss Chidinma Nwokoye of Happy Home Orphanage, Okwe, the ceremony is a very good event. “Her Excellency is helping the orphanages by sending them food, clothes for their wellbeing.”
Rev. Sister Agnes of Mother of Divine Grace Orphanage said: “We are happy and grateful to god for this event. This is the fourth year we benefited. We pray to God to bless Mrs. Edith Okowa. Our message to others is that they should copy what she is doing.”
Rev. Canon Kingsley Dieli of St. Barnabas Anglican Orphanage/Motherless Babies Home, Asaba described the event as godly and part of the heartbeat of God. He said: “Any organisation or individual that is well to do and does not think along this side is wasting God’s resources and opportunity. Because if you are given billions, it is God that gave it to you because there are many whose future is tide around that wealth. You are not meant to keep it but to share.”
Dieli revealed that what was done to celebrate the World Orphans Day was what Okowa has been doing in the past years. “She also sends her staff without making noise about it, to bring items to orphanage homes,” he said.
CLIMATE CHANGE: THE MESS OF A MEGA CIT Y
Climate change, it seems, is gradually but steadily bringing tears and sorrow to many in Nigeria. The steady rainfall being witnessed nowadays sweeps chaos and confusion into homes, which often times, exacerbates the poor drainage system. The fear, according to this report by ISIOMA MADIKE, is that the coming years might be worse
Climate change effects such as increased rainfall intensity, storm surges, and flooding effects are beginning to take its toll in the country, especially Nigeria’s economic capital, Lagos. The impact is no longer as distant as most people think. Though a global phenomenon that largely impacts urban life, rising temperatures, according to experts, has already started causing sea levels to rise, erratic rainfalls, increasing the number of extreme weather events such as floods, storms, and will in no time increases the spread of tropical diseases. The first factor aggravating flooding is climate change, which has shown to contribute to more extreme storms and rainfall.
Lagos State is a typical example in this instance. Rainy season, which ought to have ended, is back again in full force, and as always, it is bad news for most residents in Nigeria’s mega city. Worries increase not only for inhabitants but also for visitors to Lagos who take a drive around this “Centre of Excellence” when it rains.
With the rains, many parts of Lagos are back to a familiar path. Residents had to roll up trousers to walk on the streets to avoid being smeared, and motorists had to wade through waterlogged roads. The people are recounting the sad experiences of the past and are afraid of what the next weeks and months have in stock for them. At junctions of feeder streets in most parts of the sprawling city are heaps of used water sachets and debris percolated by shallow floods that found inadequate avenue of normal flows blocking the canals and waterways. Some are overgrown with weeds; others filled with refuse heaps. Ketu and Mile 12 axis are most hit in recent times.
They are densely populated “ghettos,” made up of people from different parts of the country. In virtually every open space in and around these “jungles,” heaps of faeces literally jostle for space with human beings. From the homes, faeces wrapped up in newspapers are launched from windows, scattering into a spatter mess.
It piles the streets as though they are articles of ornament. Yet, no one seems to bother about it. The roads, apart from being riddled with huge potholes and gullies, have been narrowed to single lanes due to the mammoth refuse congealed by rain water whose passage is inhibited by blocked drains.
Whenever it rains, the flood sweeps the refuse to the middle of the road, making movement of any kind difficult. Mile 12 in particular, is actually a reflection of the sorry state of most parts of Lagos – a state which appears to have lost its excellence to putrefaction, filth and flood. Ojuelegba, a bustling centre of commercial activities and bus terminal, is also a pathetic site to behold in this season. So is Ojota-Maryland- Ikorodu Road axis, which often turns to a mini-swimming pool each time it rains. Flooding here is so severe that houses and vehicles get submerged in it, resulting in a long stretch of traffic on both sides of Ikorodu Road, a major gateway to the city. Oshodi, Mafoluku, Ijeshatedo, and FESTAC Town are equally floodprone.
The Oshodi-Apapa Expressway is already a nightmare at present as motorists spend hours to navigate its difficult terrain. It is still a puzzle that a major epidemic has not broken out in this environ, given the mountains of refuse that dot the landscape. The rains have, however, compounded the situation as motorists and pedestrians now wade through the ocean-like streets. Allen Avenue, one of the major commercial centres, which is also close to Alausa, the seat of the state government, is fast losing its glamour too. The flood at the Alade Market end of the road makes the road impassable for cars and pedestrians.
They are, most times, forced to make a detour or fold up their dresses before they can ‘swim’ through the place. The same scenario plays out in Ikeja Roundabout and Oba Akran Avenue. On Agege Motor Road, the situation is also terrible. Though, a federal road, the state government has taken it upon itself to repair it. But, just as those handling the road are busy working on it, heaps of refuse jostle for space at the other side of the highway.
“The situation is pathetic,” says Idayat Balogun, a nurse in one of the private hospitals in the metropolis. According to her, the situation deteriorated whe most of the local government areas decided to turn sites meant for refuse dump to shopping malls. “Now, there is no place for the people to dump their refuse,” she added. Residents of Ejigbo, Bariga, Shomolu, Idimu, Ogba and the slums of Ijora Badiya are also counting their losses as flood and refuse have taken over major roads in the areas. Even the highbrow Victoria Island, Ikoyi and Lekki are not spared by the flood. Most of the streets in the business district – Ahmadu Bello Way, Akin Adesola, Idowu Taylor and many others – are usually flooded, resulting in cessation of business activities due to grinding logjam when it rains.
Dolphin, a sprawling estate for business and residential purposes, appears to be the worst hit in Ikoyi. Obalende, the popular bus terminal on Lagos Island, and all the nearby streets such as Lewis, Igbosere and Hawley are frequently flooded also. This makes it difficult for workers to leave Lagos for the mainland after the close of work. Tales of flooded houses, loss of property, several hours of traffic jam and streets completely taken over by garbage are now common. Indeed, for Lagos residents, living in this former federal capital are now a harrowing experience.
Recently, Osejindu Mordi, an interior decorator who works in Ogba, Ikeja, spent three hours between Lagos State Secretariat and Ketu, a journey that usually takes 30 minutes. He eventually got to his house in Ikorodu at 3am. Tosin, who works with one of the new generation banks on the Island, was perhaps, lucky. On the same day, Ogor Anugor, a sales girl in Tejusho Market, had to trek from Palmgrove to Maryland after spending about four hours in the traffic jam at Fadeyi.
Her destination was Ishawo within the Ikorodu axis. However, after each downpour, Lagos, the country’s commercial capital with the slogans “Centre of Excellence” and “City of Aquatic Splendour” turns into a centre of confusion and chaos. However, Lagos is not an isolated case in this regard. For nearly four weeks now, the persistent flood has sacked residents of Denro-Isashi Road, in Ifo Local Government Area of Ogun State.
Their homes have literarily become swimming pools with commuting becoming a harrowing experience on a daily basis. With the road already submerged by the flood from the river in the area, residents are at the mercy of daring scavengers and other jobless boys, who make brisk business ferrying residents on their backs across the massively flooded portion of the road. Daily, hundreds of commuters who live in the Ogun State border and work in Lagos, usually get stranded for many hours, looking for means to cross the flooded road following the collapse of the wooden bridge temporarily constructed by residents.
They are typically left with two options: to be ferried by group of young Hausa cart pushers, who carry them across or be shipped through the flooded road by a group of young boys, who use a damaged refrigerator as canoe. But Lagos and Ogun states have not been alone on this in recent times. Suleja, a town near the capital city, Abuja, equally suffers its own flooding challenge, especially since the last quarter of the year. Heavy rains have reportedly washed houses away and caused others to collapse, while trapping occupants.
The seriousness of the flooding has been attributed to a combination of two events: very heavy local rainfall and the release of excess water from the Lagdo Dam in nearby Cameroon. Although the degree and seriousness of flooding in Nigeria fluctuates, it remains a recurring phenomenon in most parts of the country.
The first factor aggravating flooding is climate change, which has shown to contribute to more extreme storms and rainfall. Another factor contributing to flooding in cities is that Nigeria has experienced rapid urban growth and planning is poor. Rainfall patterns in Nigeria suggest that rainstorms are getting more intense. Many parts of the country are presently suffering these effects.
From what is happening, experts are suggesting that Nigeria needs to take measures to cope with climatic changes. This, according to them, will require both local and international interventions, and could include early warning and rapid response systems, flood data gathering and modelling, proper urban and spatial planning, flood emergency preparedness and political will. The country, they said, can learn from others. For example, in Mumbai, India, various measures have been implemented to reduce the impact of flooding.
These have included an emergency control centre, automated weather stations, and removal of solid waste from storm water drains as well as the development of emergency response mechanisms. Nigeria, they added, must invest in these measures, and sustain them.
As many are aware, the immediate impacts of flooding include loss of human life, damage to property, destruction of crops, loss of livestock, and deterioration of health conditions owing to waterborne diseases. As communication links and infrastructure such as power plants, roads and bridges are damaged and disrupted, some economic activities may come to a standstill, and people are forced to leave their homes and normal life is disrupted. Similarly, disruption to industry can lead to loss of livelihoods. Damage to infrastructure also causes longterm impacts, such as disruptions to supplies of clean water, wastewater treatment, electricity, transport, communication, education and health care. Loss of livelihoods, reduction in purchasing power and loss of land value in the floodplains can leave communities economically vulnerable.
Floods can also traumatise victims and their families for long periods of time. The loss of loved ones has deep impacts, especially on children. Displacement from one’s home, loss of property and disruption to business and social affairs can cause continuing stress, according to medical experts For some people the psychological impacts can be long lasting.
The term “climate change” is often used to refer specifically to anthropogenic climate change (also known as global warming). Anthropogenic climate change is caused by human activity, as opposed to changes in climate that may have resulted as part of Earth’s natural processes. Global warming is projected to have a number of effects on the oceans.
Ongoing effects include rising sea levels due to thermal expansion and melting of glaciers and ice sheets, and warming of the ocean surface, leading to increased temperature stratification. It melts the ice and describes changes in the state of the atmosphere over time scales ranging from decades to millions of years. These changes can be caused by processes inside the Earth, forces from outside, for instance, variations in sunlight intensity or, more recently, human activities.
This change is an adverse environmental phenomenon that is causing enormous concern all over the world. Nigeria is recognized as being vulnerable to climate change. If left unchecked will cause adverse effects on livelihoods in the country, such as crop production, livestock production, fisheries, forestry and post-harvest activities, because the rainfall regimes and patterns have been altered. Floods which devastate farmlands would occur, increase in temperature and humidity which increases pest and disease would also occur and other natural disasters like ocean and storm surges, which will not only damage Nigerians’ livelihood but also cause harm to life and property.
Lagos State government appears to be responded to this challenge though by drawing up model city plans over the last 10 years for a number of areas including, Badagry, Apapa, Lekki, Agege/Ifako-Ijaiye among others, which seeks to transform the entire state to a sprawling garden city metropolis.
However, the response may be complicated, in the sense that they could address the increasing volume of rain water brought about by the more intensive storms expected across the state, but may not address the other impacts climate change is expected to bring to the city such as tidal surges, water logging of soil, rising sea levels, sinking, erosion, salinity of the water table, and diseases that would spread in a saturated environment.
Not long ago, the Nigerian meteorological agency (NIMET), warned that there would be a high prevalence of climate induced diseases such as malaria, cerebrospinal meningitis, and respiratory diseases in many parts of Nigeria. Most coastal cities are susceptible to flood from rising sea levels and erratic rainfalls, which Lagos is not exempted. It was predicted since 2008, that 3.2 million Lagosians may be exposed to flooding from climate change as a result of rising sea levels, increasing storm intensities and land subsidence, making it the 15th most vulnerable city in the world in terms of all 136 million population of the world port cities.
This figures worsened six years later in 2014, and Lagos became the 10th most vulnerable city in the world, and it’s still getting worse. Climate change is principally a major problem caused by the increase of human activities or what expects call human mismanagement of the earth leading to several direct and indirect impacts on health. These have widerange harmful effects including increase in heat-related mortality, dehydration, spread of infectious diseases, malnutrition and damage to public health infrastructure among others.
Plateau community buries vigilantes allegedly killed by military, demands justice
Tears flowed as three vigilante members allegedly shot death by operatives of Operation Safe Haven (OPSH), a Military Task Force in charge of internal security in Plateau State and its environs, were given a community burial at Kwi village in Riyom Local Government Area of Plateau State.
The Kwi community had alleged that the Special Task Force officials had on April 20, 2019, arrested 17 vigilante members in Kwi village, near Jos Airport, Plateau State. The victims were Elisha Yakubu Bot , Joshua Dung and Bot Bulus Rwang, members of a vigilance group in Kwi community.
Saturday Telegraph gathered that the young men lost their lives when two persons from a neighbouring community were attacked on Saturday 20 April, 2019 by suspected herdsmen in Kwi village where one person lost his life while another escaped.
The surviving person raised the alarm for help which attracted the vigilante to the scene. But when the military, stationed in the community, arrived shortly after the vigilante, they started shooting sporadically. One of the victims of the alleged military attack who survived, 25-yearold Madaki Shedrack, told Saturday Telegraph that 17 of them were arrested by the OPSH Operatives of Sector 9 and three persons among them were inflicted with gunshots injuries.
Shedrack said: “14 of us were taken to Sector 9 at Makera in Riyom and the three injured persons were taken to the hospital for treatment. We were taken to the headquarters of Operation Safe Haven the following morning and we couldn’t see three of our colleagues.
“The military kept us in their custody for about one month until we were transferred to the Police Headquarters, Jos, where our statements were taken and we were subsequently released without seeing three of our members.” Another victim name Samuel Dung age 26 said men of Operation Safe Haven arrived several minutes late to the scene of the attack and didn’t asked question regarding what happened but started shooting and arresting indiscriminately. “Without a question, they started shooting at us,” he said. He said after seeing three of the vigilantes gunned down, they surrendered and were taken into custody, leaving behind the corpse of their tribesman killed by the initial suspected herdsmen attackers. “They took us to their Sector 9 base before moving us to the STF Headquarters in Jos and called us robbers, we were tortured for months Dung said.
“The first day, they tortured us for more than five hours, beating us mercilessly and pouring water on us,” Dung narrated. Wife of late Elish Yakubu Bot, Mrs Martha, 38, and mother of six cried and wailed until she almost passed out and was revived and consoled by the villagers who were also crying uncontrollably.
She said her husband was an active farmer and member of the vigilante before he was alleggedly killed by the military. She called on Federal Government to investigate the alleged killings of three vigilante members including her husband whose corpses were dumped at Bingham University Teaching Hospital, Jos. “I will not accept this injustice; people who are paid by Federal Government to protect innocent persons are the ones killing them. My husband was only doing community service, why will he be killed? I want the Federal Government to provide my husband alive and take decisive action on the perpetrators,” she cried.
Saturday Telegraph gathered that the Kwi community engaged a lawyer who advised them to carry out autopsy at the Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH) to identify how they died. The corpses were released to the community on November 13, for mass burial at the village Kwi.
Family members, lawyers and community stakeholders were denied access to the detainees until they were transferred to Police custody several months later. The Director, Emancipation Centre for Crisis Victims in Nigeria, Solomon Dalyop, while Speaking during the burial said the community would seek legal redress on the matter He said the three vigilantes believed to have died in custody, investigation revealed, were donated to Bingham University Teaching Hospital Jos as cadaver.
“We wrote several letters and petitions before the 14 were released in August. The Task Force denied knowledge of their whereabouts but after a thorough and vigorous search, we learnt their corpses were donated to Bingham University Teaching Hospital for research,” he said.
“They killed our youths for responding to a situation that they couldn’t respond to, and they never responded to our letters demanding their whereabouts. “It is a concealment of act of extrajudicial killing which is never within the contemplation of the Nigerian laws and we will be left with no option than to seek legal redress, the murder however does not just have legal but social and economic implications. He said the community wrote the OPSH headquarters two times to provide the three vigilantes alive or dead but there was no response from them. Also, a stakeholder from the com-munity and Former Rector of the Plateau State Polytechnic Dr. Dauda Gyemang said: “The killing of our youths by people who are supposed to guard us shows that our children have no hope for the future.”
Former Commissioner of Finance in Plateau State and community Leader, Hon. Davou Mang, said the persistent conflicts and culpability of the security have caused fear thus preventing people from working thereby increasing hardship for the locals.
He said the community together with the families embarked on the search for the corpses from one mortuary to the other until the corpses were found at Bingham University Teaching Hospital in August. He said the hospital management told the community that the corpses were deposited there on April 21, 2019, by members of the Operation Safe Haven (OPSH). Our correspondent observed that tears flowed freely and emotions were high when the corpses arrived the community from Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH) for burial.
Efforts to speak with the spokesperson of the Operation Safe Haven (OPSH), Major Shittu Adebanjo, proved abortive as he did not respond to his calls. Messages sent to his phones were similarly not responded to. Efforts to reach the Bingham University Teaching Hospital, Jos, were equally unsuccessful as the Managing Director, Prof Edwin Eseigbe, who is the only person authorised to speak on behalf of the hospital did not respond to our correspondent’s questions. He maintained that the hospital had already explained to the family what
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