Police fired teargas at a protesting Shi’ite group in Nigeria’s capital city Abuja, a Reuters witness saw on Thursday.
Hundreds gathered to demand the release of their leader two days after clashes with police left at least two dead and 40 protesters in police custody.
UNICEF: 17m Nigerian children miss out on birth registration
A new report on global birth registration released by UNICEF, has revealed that up to 17 million children under-5, or one in five, remain unregistered in Nigeria.
Going by the report, by integrating birth registration into health services, the number of children whose births are officially registered has increased significantly in Nigeria from 30 per cent in 2013 to 43 per cent in 2018.
“We have come a long way in Nigeria and ensuring that children are registered through the health services is making a big difference – but still too many children are slipping through the cracks,” said Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria.
“These children are uncounted and unaccounted for – non-existent in the eyes of the government or the law. Without proof of identity, children are often excluded from accessing education, health care and other vital services, and are vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.”
Worldwide, 166 million children under-five, or one in four, remain unregistered, according to the new report Birth Registration for Every Child by 2030: Are We onTrack? – which analyses data from 174 countries and shows that the proportion of children under-five registered globally is up around 20 per cent from 10 years ago – increasing from 63 per cent to 75 per cent.
In West and Central Africa, under-5 registration increased in 10 years from 41 per cent to 51 per cent, despite the multiple challenges the region is facing.
“Birth registration in West and Central Africa remained stagnant for a long time, leaving millions of children without their basic right to legal identity. This situation has now changed and millions more children are registered at birth,” said Marie-Pierre Poirier, UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa.
“With UNICEF’s support and under the leadership of the African Union and of national governments, countries have invested in integrating birth registration in health and immunisation platforms to extend the coverage and accessibility of services and reach even the most vulnerable populations. This simple shift in service delivery is not only low cost but effective in increasing national registration rates, contributing to progress in the region as a whole.”
Despite progress, the majority of countries in sub-Saharan Africa lag behind the rest of the world and some of the lowest levels of registration are found in Chad (12 per cent) and Guinea-Bissau (24 per cent).
Barriers to high registration coverage in Nigeria include the operation of two parallel and competing systems for birth registration at federal and state levels, insufficient birth registrars, lack of public awareness on the importance of birth registration for children, coupled with ingrained social beliefs that do not encourage the registration of children.
In Birth Registration for Every Child by 2030, UNICEF calls for five actions to protect all children:
*Provide every child with a certificate upon birth.
*Empower all parents, including single parents, regardless of gender, to register their children at birth and for free during the first year of life.
*Link birth registration to basic services, particularly health, social protection and education, as an entry point for registration.
*Invest in safe and innovative technological solutions to allow every child to be registered, including in hard-to-reach areas.
*Engage communities to demand birth registration for every child.
“Every child has a right to a name, a nationality and a legal identity,” said Peter Hawkins. “We have just marked the 30th anniversary of these rights – as enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child – and 2020 will mark the 30th anniversary of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child – which provides that every child be registered immediately after birth. We must continue to register and not stop until every Nigerian child is registered – every child counts!”
Army repels armed bandits attack in Benue community
Men of the Nigerian Army under the auspices of Operation Whirl Stroke (OPWS), operating in Benue, Nasarawa and Taraba states on Thursday engaged in gun duel with gang of criminals terrorising the residents of Abako community in Katsina-ala Local Government Area of the state.
The Commander of the Operation Whirl Stroke, Major General Adeyemi Yekini, who disclosed this to newsmen in Makurdi, said his troops went after the robbers after they received information from the locals that armed robbers invaded Abako community to rob and dispossess some people of their valuables including monies and vehicles.
General Yekini explained that the armed robbers upon sighting the troops, immediately opened fire and his men responded which resulted to the arrest and recovery of huge cash and a stolen vehicle.
“We received information that armed robbers invaded Abako town in Katsina Ala Local Government Area of Benue State, near Takum in Taraba State, robbed some people particularly traders.
“We went after the robbers and after heavy gun battle, we overpowered the criminals, apprehended some of them and in the process recovered a vehicle they stole from one of their victims. We also recovered from them N150,000 cash with other dangerous weapons.
“One of them sustained a gunshot wound and we have handed them over to the police authorities for further necessary action including the items recovered from them,” Gen Yekini stated.
Key US House committee passes Trump impeachment charges
The US House Judiciary Committee has approved two impeachment charges against President Donald Trump, moving the process towards a full House vote.
The articles, backed by Democrats and opposed by Republicans, are expected to be voted on by the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives next week.
Trump is the fourth US president in history to face impeachment, reports the BBC.
Speaking to reporters at the White House, he again dismissed the process as a “sham” and a “hoax”.
Friday’s hearing lasted just over ten minutes before the two articles of impeachment – abuse of power and obstructing Congress – were passed by 23 votes to 17.
The vote had been expected on Thursday but was delayed after more than 14 hours of rancorous debate. Republicans criticised that decision by Democratic Party Chairman Jerry Nadler, accusing him of pushing back the vote to ensure more TV coverage.
In the abuse of power article, Trump is accused of soliciting a foreign country to help him politically by trying to force Ukraine to launch a corruption investigation into his political rival Joe Biden, a leading Democratic presidential contender.
He is also accused of obstructing Congress by failing to co-operate with the House investigation.
Leading Democrats agreed the articles of impeachment described over nine pages. They say that Trump “betrayed the nation” by acting “corruptly”.
Nadler made a brief statement to reporters after the vote, calling it a “solemn and sad day” and pledged that the House of Representatives would “act expeditiously”.
But Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz said: “For Democrats, impeachment is their drug.”
Speaking from the White House Oval Office alongside the president of Paraguay, Trump called the impeachment process “a witch hunt”, “a sham” and “a hoax”.
He said Democrats were “trivialising impeachment” adding that they are “making absolute fools out of themselves”.
“It’s a sad thing for this country, but seems to be very good for me politically,” he added.
Sanctity of judiciary key to survival of democracy – Ortom
Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom on Friday said the sanctity of Nigeria’s judiciary must be upheld if the country’s democracy is to survive.
The governor stated this while speaking to newsmen shortly after the swearing-in of Justice John Terhemba Tsoho, a Benue son, as Chief Judge of the Federal High Court and Hon. Justice Benedict Kanyip from Kaduna State as President, National Industrial Court.
Governor Ortom emphasized that the judiciary occupies a vital position in the life of any nation and it behoves on all to accord the system the necessary support it deserves.
He stated that violation of the rule of law could lead to impunity which would in turn pave way for anarchy, a situation he noted serves no country any good.
Governor Ortom described as commendable, President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to set up a panel to investigate the recent invasion of a courtroom in Abuja by some persons to make an arrest, expressing the hope that those found culpable would be punished.
Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, had during the swearing-in, admonished the judicial officers to respect themselves by upholding justice, fairness and excellence at all times.
NIS: Visa on arrival to facilitate regional integration
The Comptroller-General of Immigration (CGI) Mr. Muhammad Babandede, has said that the planned visa on arrival at the point of entry, was part of Federal Government’s efforts at accelerating integration in Africa.
In a statement Friday by the spokesperson for the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), DCI Sunday James, the CGI noted that the policy, which will take effect in 2020, will remove barriers hitherto militating against free movement within the continent.
This was as he added that the beneficiaries will be holders of passports of African countries.
“The Comptroller General of Nigeria Immigration Service Muhammad Babandede directed that clarifications be made regarding Visa on Arrival at the point of Entry for holders of passports of African Countries,” James said.
According to him: “Nigeria’s strategic decision is taken to bring down barriers that have hindered free movement of our people within the continent by introducing the Visa at the point of Entry into Nigeria with effect from January 2020.
“The Comptroller General of Immigration is assuring Nigerians of the service’s commitment to ensuring high level professional ethics in delivering the services without compromising National Security,” he said.
House panel delays historic Trump impeachment vote
The House Judiciary Committee abruptly postponed a historic vote late Thursday on articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, shutting down a divisive 14-hour session that dragged with sharp partisan divisions but had been expected to end with the charges being sent to the full House for a vote next week.
Approval of the charges against the president is still expected early Friday in the committee. But the sudden turn punctuated the deep split in the Congress, and the nation, over impeaching the president.
The committee, made up of some of the most strident Democrats and Republicans in Congress, clashed for all day and into the night as Republicans insisted on lengthy debate on amendments designed to kill the two formal charges with no hope of winning votes from the majority Democrats.
Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), said the committee would resume the session at 10 a.m. Friday, reports The Associated Press.
“It is now very late at night,” Nadler said after presiding over the two-day session. “I want the members on both sides of the aisle to think about what has happened over these past two days and to search their consciences before they cast their final votes.”
Trump is accused, in the first article, of abusing his presidential power by asking Ukraine to investigate his 2020 rival, Joe Biden, while holding military aid as leverage, and, in the second, of obstructing Congress by blocking the House’s efforts to probe his actions.
The Republicans on the panel, blindsided by the move, were livid.
Senate probes DSS’ invasion of Abuja court
The Senate, yesterday, directed its Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, to thoroughly investigate the widely reported invasion of the Federal High Court, Abuja, last week Friday, by operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS). The court invasion occurred during the trial of the Publisher of Sahara Reporters, Omoyele Sowore, before Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu. The resolution to carry out the probe was sequel to a motion of urgent public importance raised by the Chairman of the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele.
He drew the attention of the Chamber to the invasion and controversy trailing it, when he cited Order 43 of the Senate’s Standing Rules, arguing that since the matter had come to public domain, there was need for the Senate to look into it. The lawmaker noted that Senate’s attention on the matter was specifically needed in addressing the concerns it had raised within the leadership of the judiciary in particular in the last one week.
He said: “I rise to draw the attention of this Senate to a matter that has been in public domain and especially as the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, the reported alleged invasion of the courtroom again by alleged officials of the DSS.
“It is one issue that has raised a lot of concern in different quarters in Nigeria. The leadership and members of the judiciary are particularly concerned about this development because they believe, like the rest of us do, that the courtroom is meant to be a sanctuary.
But for us as Senate, we cannot begin to take a position or analyse the issues based on conclusion without facts that we consider incontrovertible. “Yet, much as we cannot just jump into conclusions, it is also a fact that we cannot pretend not to know that Nigerians are concerned about this development.
“The reason I have chosen to come under Order 43 so that I will not generate any controversy or even make the Senate to begin to debate or engage in a debate over an issue in respect of which, like I said earlier, we still need to have incontrovertible facts and evidence.
“In view of this, I just want to say that as elected representatives of the people in whom Nigerians, including the judiciary, must find their voice that we mandate our Committee on National Security and Intelligence to interface with the relevant security agencies, look into this matter, investigate what happened and report back to the Senate on this matter.” In his remarks, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, directed the Senate Committee on Judiciary to carry out the investigation and report back within a week. Lawan explained that since Bamidele moved the motion through Order 43 under personal explanation, there would be no debate on it. “Distinguished colleagues, you know Order 43 does not allow for any debate and since this is a matter that affects the judiciary, we rather mandate to your committee to find out what happened. “So I would suggest that our committee on judiciary investigates, finds out what actually happened and then report back to us in one week,” he said.
Banks refund N76.75bn, $20.9m to depositors
- NDIC: Mobile money subscribers hit 9.25m
Bank customers have been refunded the sum of N76.75 billion and $20.9 million respectively by Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) following verifiable complaints by depositors as at November 30, 2019.
Director, Consumer Protection Department (CPD) of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Kofo-Abdulsalam Alada, stated this at a workshop for finance journalists in Yola, the Adamawa State capital, yesterday.
Alada, represented by Mr. Tyoden Nanfwang of the CPD, said the refund from several banks arose from various financial related complaints.
According to him, the refund is in line with the mandate of the department of the bank to promote consumer confidence in the financial system.
Highlighting some achievements of the department, the director said they had resolved no fewer than 16,263 complaints against banks from 2012 to November 30, 2019.
“Cumulative number of complaints against Other Financial Institutions (OFIs) that were resolved or closed from 2012 to the end of November 2019 is about 257.
“We resolved over 13,000 complaints, obtained refunds of N76.75 billion, $20.90 million, among others to bank customers as at November 30.
“The department has also developed a consumer protection framework and established a guide to charges by banks and OFIs,” he disclosed.
Alada noted that there was an extraordinary imbalance of power between the service providers and the consumers.
According to him, the goal of consumer protection is to mitigate this power imbalance.
The CBN Director said that one of the roles of the department in the bank was to entrench fair and responsible practices among financial service providers through regulations.
He, however, called on bank customers to report any financially related complaints to the CBN anytime they were dissatisfied with responses from their banks.
Sifax creates 3,000 jobs to boost operations
Sifax Group has created more than 3,000 direct jobs across its subsidiaries, in the last few years, as part of its contribution to the Nigerian economy.
Its Group Managing Director (GMD), Mr. Adekunle Oyinloye, disclosed this on Wednesday during a courtesy visit to the company’s head office in Lagos by the management of Daily Telegraph Publishing Company Limited, publishers of New Telegraph newspapers.
The GMD noted that the group was a multinational corporation with diverse interests in maritime, aviation, haulage & logistics, oil & gas and hospitality.
He noted that the company was leading changes daily in the maritime industry, saying that the group was in the eyes of the people.
Oyinloye explained that a number of the group’s subsidiaries were in the same value chain.
He said: “We are leading changes daily in the maritime industry and we want to ‘Nigerianise’ the maritime industry as soon as possible. We are excited to meet you in the changing phase of maritime. If we are not dissatisfied with the status quo; we won’t be able to create a change. We want many Nigerians to be in the industry. This is our desire. Our partnership with you is going to be an enduring one.”
However, the GMD lamented that the decayed infrastructure in the sector was a national embarrassment, saying that the body of a truck could disappear in a hole on Apapa road.
Oyinloye said: “The Federal Government is attending to the roads. The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo has said that the embarrassment was getting too much. In the next few months, I am sure Apapa will come back to its glorious past and you can be there in 30 minutes.”
The GMD, who appreciated the management team for the recognition accorded the group, was hopeful that in the next few months, when the roads are fully rehabilitated, Apapa would come back to its glory.
“In the maritime industry, we don’t just want to appear and disappear but we want to be there,” he said.
He praised the newspaper for the outstanding appearance and contribution in the country.
Reacting, Mrs. Juliet Bumah, Sunday Editor and Mr. Waheed Bakare, Saturday Editor of the newspapers, said that the visit by the management of the company to Sifax Group was in recognition of its achievements in the country.
Bumah explained that the newspaper would continue to support the growth of the company.
Also, Bakare said that the newspaper, like Sifax, had made a mark within five years of its establishment.
Wike accuses Dickson of plotting to destabilise Rivers
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has accused the governor of Bayelsa State, Seriake Dickson of plotting to create disunity by visiting the state under the guise of coming to see Ijaw people without getting in touch with the relevant authorities.
Wike, who made the allegation when Kalabari people paid him a solidarity visit at the Government House, Port Harcourt, yesterday, noted that while the outgoing Bayelsa State Governor professes love for Ijaw people in Rivers State, he was busy working to take the state’s oil resources in Soku and Kula.
He said: “Already, we have gone back to court in relation to Soku oil wells. This is the man who is claiming Kula oil wells and Soku.
“I have gone back to court and we will reclaim the Soku Oil Wells for Rivers State. This is the same man you claim loves you and you roll out drums against protocol.
“It is not good for anyone to come and divide Rivers State, because the state is one. It is unfortunate what my colleague did. I handed him over to God and prayed for God to do his will.”
Wike said that Dickson had called two monarchs in Kalabari (which boasts of three council areas in the state; Asari Toru, Akoku Toru and Degema) of his visit without informing him, stressing that the move was aimed at destabilising the state.
Wike urge the Kalabari leaders to prevail on the Amanyanabo of Kalabari, King Theophilus J.T. Princewill, not to allow himself to be used by external forces to create disunity in the state.
According to the governor, the Amanyanabo of Kalabari deliberately allowed Dickson to use him to promote divisiveness.
He said: “I want to publicly lay a complaint on the action of Amanyanabo of Kalabari. The next time it happens, I will act as a governor.
“He (Dickson) said he was coming to see Ijaw people in Rivers State and he would be hosted by the Amayanabo of Kalabari and Amanyanabo of Abonnema.
“The Amanyanabo of Abonnema didn’t do it, he called me on phone when the Governor of Bayelsa, Dickson tried to create problems in Rivers State.
“The Amanyanabo of Abonnema called me and said how can that be? The Rivers State governor did not call me. The Amanyanabo of Kalabari did not call me. What he did was to roll out the drums to receive the Bayelsa State Governor”, Wike said.
Wike warned that should the Amanyanabo of Kalabari take such action in future, he will face sanctions.
He said: “That day, I would have removed him, but I held myself. What they would do is to go to radio and abuse me. But I am used to insults. I am trying to complain to you people.
“If any of such things happen again, I will take the necessary action. I will not listen to any further excuse. That is why I am saying this publicly. Tell him to respect constituted authority.”
The governor commended the peace initiative of the Amanyanabo of Abonnema and urged other traditional rulers to emulate him.
He said: “I thank the Amanyanabo of Abonnema for his peace initiative. I urge other traditional rulers to emulate him. Work towards peace amongst your people. You cannot live where there is no peace.”
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