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My marriage to missionary divinely ordained, says IDP-turned-lawyer

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My marriage to missionary divinely ordained, says IDP-turned-lawyer
  • I dreamt Juliet would be my wife long before I met her –Husband

 

The International Christian Centre, home of Internally Displaced Persons, in Uhogua, Ovia North East Local Government Area of Edo State, was a beehive of activities recently as Mr Hossana Ovadje and Juliet Ogbomo, were joined in marriage.

In a chat with Saturday Telegraph Juliet who is a full product of Edo IDP camp but now a lawyer with Edo State Ministry of Justice said of her marriage to Hossana: “My marriage to Hossana Ovadje was divine. I prayed fervently and the Holy Spirit told me that Hossana is my husband. God knows every heart and He gives the best.

As I prayed on the issue, I opened my heart and allowed God to lead me.” The native of Uhunmwode Local Government Area of Edo State advised ladies not to be deceived by class status while making a choice of their life partners. “In everything we do, we should allow the Spirit of God to lead us on to the right path, because when God makes a decision for you no man can change it,” Juliet added. On his part, Hossana, a mission worker at the ICC said he got the revelation that Juliet would be his wife two years before he got to know her. “It all started in 2011 when I had an encounter with Jesus.

I had a dream that I was in a wedding with Juliet. I had not met her then and I had not heard of the International Christian Centre. I kept wondering what the revelation was all about. I prayed fervently about it while I waited on God to unfold everything to me.

Then I never heard about the International Christian Church neither did I know Pastor Solomon Folorunsho (General Overseer of the church). “I read a book which talked about those that will go to hell and I was inspired to take up mission activities. Around 2012, I had some challenges which necessitated my coming to the ICC where I met Pastor Folorunsho and commenced training at the mission school. I had another revelation about her around 2013 that she would be my helpmate.

By then I had met her. After almost three years of praying on the issue I spoke with the vision bearer of the ministry (Pastor Folorunsho) about my dreams and he prayed with me while also guiding me on how to follow the right path.

“We started courtship in February 2018 that is five years after we met and seven years after I got the revelation,” said Hossana, who hails from Ethiope East Local Government Area of Delta State. Another man, Samson John, who was married on the same day as Hossana and Juliet, is also a mission worker at the International Christian Centre, Uhogua. He hails from Ughelli North Local Government Area of Delta State. He said: “When God revealed to me who I was going to marry I went into prayers and also told Pastor Folorunsho about it. He joined me in prayers.

That was in 2011.”God revealed Blessing to me as the right person for me to marry. She is the rib that God took and returned to me. She is a wife, mother and sister to me.” When in 2011 she had the revelation that Samson John was going to be her husband Blessing (nee Idoghor), who hails from Udu Local Government Area of Delta State, kept the revelation to herself. “But the message from God was so clear and persistent and I had to discuss it with Pastor Folorunsho who guided me on the proper thing to do,” she said.

The General Overseer of the ICC who is also the originator of the IDPs camp situated on the church premises, Folorunso, said: “We take it as our God given responsibility to care for the needy in the society. We derive our comfort from the consolation that God gives to us and He has never promised to leave or forsake us. “And knowing that everybody here is a human being like us, that they deserve what we deserve, that we should treat them equally, that has made the love of God flow among us.

We don’t see them as different and we don’t treat them differently. We love them and share with them. Everybody sees this place as their earthly home. Nobody is alienated. Nobody is denied of what is available. They see these things, and it gives them confidence and a sense of belonging.”

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Amazon fires and fight for human survival

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  • As NAS President calls for law on bush burning in Nigeria

 

 

Often referred to as the lungs of the planet, the Amazon rainforest in Brazil has been on fire and this has raised concerns about the global ecosystem. In this report, WALE ELEGBEDE looks at the effect of the blaze on the global health system especially in sub-Sahara Africa

 

 

In a social media post on August 22, French President Emmanuel Macron, tweeted: “Our house is burning. Literally. The Amazon rain forest – the lungs which produce 20% of our planet’s oxygen – is on fire. It is an international crisis. Members of the G7 Summit, lets discuss this emergency first order in two days!”

 

 

Although Macron’s statistics of 20 per cent of planet’s oxygen from the Amazon rainforest was interrogated and further classified in certain quarters as being spurious, there was, however, no doubting the fact that the Amazon rainforest fire is a global crisis that must be tackled by all and sundry.

 

 

A rainforest is described as a tall, hot and dense forest near the equator and is believed to be the oldest living ecosystems on Earth which get the maximum amount of rainfall. As the name implies, rainforests are the forests that get a very high amount of rainfall every year, more than the normal annual rainfall of 1750–2000 mm (68-78 inches).

 

 

Most of the rainforests in the world are located around the middle of the earth near the equator like South and Central America, Africa, Asia and Australia.

 

 

The main benefit of rainforests is that they supply much of the earth’s oxygen. They absorb carbon dioxide produced by man-made activities and produce oxygen on which all humans and animals survive.

 

 

They also contain millions of species of exotic plants and animals. Rainforest supplies many things essential for the survival of human and other living beings. Rainforests are vitally important, producing most of the oxygen human breath and providing habitat for half of the planet’s plants and animals.

 

 

Covering an area of five and a half million square kilometres (2.1 million sq mi), the Amazon in South America is the largest, most diverse tropical rainforest on Earth. Without it, climate change speeds up.

 

 

The forest plays a critical role in cleaning the air humans breathe and everyone on the planet benefits from the health of the Amazon. Trees in the Amazon take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen thereby playing a huge role in pulling planet-warming greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere.

 

 

Also, the Amazon rainforest accounts for more than half of the planet’s remaining rainforest and is home to more than half the world’s species of plants and animals.

 

 

With so much significance on its head as the world’s largest rainforest with a major absorber of carbon dioxide and critical defence against rising temperatures and other disruptions caused by climate change, the raging fire in the Amazon deserved all the attention it’s getting.

 

 

For scientist and environmentalists, protecting the Amazon is often posited as one of the most effective ways to mitigate the effect of climate change.

 

 

The severity of the fires has prompted a global outcry and protests. But being what it is, the high-wired international politics has also crept in and the context of exchange has moved the raging fire.

According to Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (Inpe), more than 75,000 fires have been recorded in Brazil so far in 2019, most of them in the Amazon region. This is the highest number of fires in the same period since 2010.

At the recently concluded G7 summit in France, leaders at the summit agreed to provide logistical and financial support to help fight fires in the Amazon rainforest. Accordingly, French President, Macron said G7 countries would release $22m (£18m).

Macron said the funds would be made available “immediately” – primarily to pay for more fire-fighting planes – and that France would also “offer concrete support with the military in the region within the next few hours”.

G7 leaders also expressed intentions to discuss plans to reforest the Amazon, at the United Nations General Assembly meeting in September.

 

 

However, Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro said Macron’s plan of an “alliance” to “save” the Amazon treated Brazil “as if we were a colony or no man’s land”.

 

 

He wrote on Twitter that Brazil’s sovereignty should be respected – and said he had discussed with Colombia’s president, Iván Duque Márquez the need for “a joint plan” from the countries that actually made up the Amazon region.

President Bolsonaro has been accused by critics, of “green lighting” the Amazon’s destruction through anti-environmental rhetoric and a lack of action on deforestation violations.

 

 

He has also been accused of emboldening miners and loggers who deliberately start fires to illegally deforested land.

 

 

However, after his initial blustering, President Bolsonaro finally authorised the deployment of some 40,000 soldiers to help tackle the blaze.

 

 

 

Curiously, forest fires in Africa have been burning alarmingly like a red chain similar to the blazes in Brazil’s Amazon but hasn’t attracted serious global outcry.

 

 

Of course, rainforest fires in Africa are often more seasonal and linked to traditional seasonal farming methods, but the region is also key to global climate stability.

 

 

Commonly referred to as the “second green lung” of the planet after the Amazon, the Congo Basin forest covers an area of 3.3 million square kilometres in several countries, including about a third in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the rest spread across Gabon, Congo, Cameroon and Central Africa.

 

 

 

Similar to the Amazon, the forests of the Congo Basin absorb tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) in trees and peat marshes – experts see this as a key way to combat climate change and home to endangered species.

While experts have, however, classified the cause of Amazon burns mainly because of drought and climate change, but in Central Africa they say it is mainly due to agricultural prospects and techniques.

 

 

Speaking with New Telegraph on the effect of the looming environmental catastrophe, the President of the Nigerian Academy of Science (NAS), Prof. Mosto Onuoha, said the Amazon fires have both direct and the indirect effect on sub-Saharan Africa, adding that the fire in the Amazon is increasing the Co2 content and others which is bad for the world

 

 

He said: “The Amazon fires may not have a direct effect on sub-Sahara Africa but somehow indirectly in a sense that the Amazon Forest, for now, is the only and most expensive rainforest in the world. We used to have a lot of rainforest in Nigeria, in the east, south-west and parts of Cross River State.

 

“But in most places in Nigeria, if you travel from Benin through Ore to Ijebu-Ode and Ibadan, all the thick forests are gone. We have cut down all of them. Even between Ore to Ondo which used to be heavily forested, only tall grass-covered all those places now, you won’t see anything like heavy forest again.

 

“Even what we used to call Savannah in Nigeria has moved almost all the way down to Imo State now, before it only used to be after Makurdi (Benue State). The Amazon is a climate change thing and it has to do with the Ozone layer and we are losing a lot due to deforestation and what they do to the recirculation of the air.

 

“The fire in the Amazon is increasing the Co2 content and others which is bad for the world. This fire is different from any of these local fires; this is one particularly bad from so many points of view. Aside from the huge Co2 that is being emitted, the deforestation that is being done is bad, and that is why people are alarmed.”

 

Driving it down home, he added: “Many of us in Nigeria don’t even know the effect of the bush burning we are doing on the climate. We need a law on bush burning in Nigeria because once harmattan starts now around November you will see people burning their farms.

 

“We need forests and trees to continue to save our environment. People should stop burning green forests; human beings need them for existence. The government must step media campaign up and do a little bit policing in forms of forest guards to police the forest.”

 

 

 

Clearly, as the world watched with fear and fascination the raging fires, there is a need to protect the forests that are still largely intact and stop degradation to conserve humans. Countries must also implement stricter environmental policies to safeguard the climate.

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BDCs take compliance to new heights as FATF Mutual Evaluation team visits Nigeria

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BDCs take compliance to new heights as FATF Mutual Evaluation team visits Nigeria

The Association of Bureaux De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON) is taking the issue of compliance to regulations locally and globally seriously. This is why ABCON through the many years of training and guidance, has strengthened the Bureaux de Change (BDCs) sector and helped operators understand the gains of compliance to the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) rules. But as the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) prepares to visit Nigeria this month, Nigerian BDCs are ready to assist the team succeed in its mission, writes NDUBUISI UGAH

 

 

B

ureaux De Change (BDC) operators are conversant with the threats and dangers posed by Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (ML/TF) in Nigeria, Africa and globally. The operators have therefore adopted concerted strategy to tackle the menace.

 

 

The current level of awareness on the ills of ML/TF followed long years of training and capacity building provided by the Association of Bureaux De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON) under the leadership of Alhaji Aminu Gwadabe. In many other times, the trainings are done by ABCON in collaboration with regulatory agencies and key government parastatals.

 

 

With over $30.4 billion being ferried out of Africa annually, ABCON is intensifying its commitment to fighting money laundering and terrorist financing by ensuring that its members comply with regulations in doing their business.

 

 

Gwadabe said the group is already equipping over 4,500 BDCs with the right technology and skills to tackle illicit financial flows within the country.

 

 

He said the BDCs meet regularly with regulators, government agencies/officials and experts to analyse, monitor and identify strategies for the effective implementation of Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) measures.

The ABCON boss said the BDCs will this month, welcome the FATF Mutual Evaluation team to Nigeria.

 

 

The FATF assessment, he explained, was designed to evaluate the implementation and effectiveness of the laws, regulations or other measures required to ascertain the effectiveness of the AML/CFT regime.

 

 

The Mutual Evaluation will equally provide information on the progress made by Nigeria in meeting its obligations towards the FATF Recommendations.

 

 

ABCON has over the years established itself as a key player in the bureau de change (BDC) industry, and has also made several commitments and sacrifices to ensure that the sector continues to thrive and its members follow global best practices in the retail of foreign exchange to end users.

 

 

FATF Mutual Evaluation and BDCs’ preparations

 

 

Gwadabe disclosed that ahead of the FATF Team visit, the ABCON, in collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is organising a sensitisation workshop for over 4,500 licensed BDCs in Nigeria. The workshop will hold in the six geo-political zones.

 

He said that as the global body that sets standard for AML/CFT efforts, the FATF team will assess banks and other financial institutions compliance with the AML/CFT measures.

 

 

Like other previous evaluations for Nigeria, the FATF team will carry out checks at the branches of selected banks and BDCs across the country, adding that compliance at the airports and land borders may also come under their scrutiny.

 

 

Gwadabe said Nigeria, which has been one of the regional champions mentoring other member states in the development of their AML/CFT systems, has largely addressed its action plan by enacting legislation to criminalise money laundering and terrorist financing.

 

 

The country is also implementing procedures to identify and freeze terrorist assets and ensuring that customer due diligence requirements apply to all financial instructions.

 

BDCs’ Case of Compliance/ Digitisation of Operations

 

 

Gwadabe said BDCs have met a number of compliance requirements specified by FATF and local regulators. The BDCs have conducted enhanced due diligence, a major compliance requirement on some high-risk customers.

 

 

The collation and reporting of foreign currency transactions and suspicious transactions by BDCs are now fully automated.

 

 

The ABCON had in February, launched its Live Run Automation Portal in Lagos. The technology automates all BDC Operations with those of Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS), Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to improve the level of compliance of the BDCs with set regulations.

 

 

The platform allows BDCs send their reports online real time, thereby removing the challenge of manual rendition of reports that has been confronting operators for decades. The project is also boosting the perception towards BDCs in Nigeria especially in the eyes of international investors.

 

 

Gwadabe said the world was going digital, and BDC operators under his leadership are committed to staying ahead of the competition by deploying time-tested technology to deliver effective services to customers and ensure compliance.

He said the Live Run portal had enhanced BDCs compliance with set regulations and promoted market integrity.

 

 

According to him, the portal has sustained transparent transactions in the BDC corridor, boost the morale of its members and ensure their continuous operations.

The ABCON chief said the group had fully upgraded its Information Communication Technology (ICT) platforms, to achieve full digitisation of BDCs operations in line with its goal of sustaining transparent operation and prompt rendition of weekly returns to regulatory agencies.

He added that the ABCON fully aligns with the statutory provisions of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011 (as amended), the CBN’s AML/CFT Regulations, 2013 and recommendations of the FATF.

Why anti-money laundering war must go on

Gwadabe said that the sorry state of public institutions within the ECOWAS region is disturbing. In many public schools, students learn sitting on the floors, the hospitals lack basic drugs, while the road networks are death traps. These societal ills thrive where corruption and illicit financial flows are rampant.

He said public institutions in ECOWAS region have suffered immensely from the corruption going on in public and private sectors.

He said ABCON was aware of the growing concerns over illicit financial flows (IFFs) from West African economies and the need to tackle them by key stakeholders within the region.

He acknowledged the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA’s) 2016 – 2020 Strategic Plan, which showed that the Global Financial Integrity (GFI), the World Bank, the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Africa Progress Panel and the African Union’s High Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa all paint a grim profile of the problem.

A joint study conducted by the GFI and the AfDB showed that between 2000 and 2009, about $30.4 billion was illicitly transferred out of Africa each year. Over a longer period of 30 years, calculated from 1980, the resource drain was between $1.2 and $1.3 trillion.

Outflows from West and Central Africa stood at (37 per cent), followed by North Africa (31 per cent) and Southern Africa (27 per cent). The IFFs are derived from various predicate offences of money laundering.

ABCON Foreign Exchange Retailers Institute

The ABCON Foreign Exchange Retailers Institute has also been proposed and will soon be floated by the leadership of the association. The institute falls within the constitutional mandate of ABCON and will be focused on bridging the knowledge gap among operators and promoting capacity building for global competitiveness.

“We, therefore, urge the Federal Government to mandate relevant authorities such as the Central Bank of Nigeria (can), Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Federal Ministry of Education and Federal Ministry of Justice to grant the institute the necessary approval to enable commence operation,” Gwadabe said.

Partnerships/ Capacity Building for BDCs

ABCON, severally, organised trainings for its members, and at other times, partnered NFIU and the EFCC to build capacity for operators.

They have educated BDC operators on how they can help in tackling money laundering, terrorist financing and the benefits of keeping records of their transactions.

The anti-money laundering training that ABCON organised with NFIU and EFCC in Lagos was meant to familiarize BDCs with the process of money laundering — the criminal business used to disguise the true origin and ownership of illegal cash — and the laws that make it a crime.

Speaking during the sensitisation programme against money laundering and terrorism financing campaign at MM2, Lagos, which was attended by many BDC operators, the Acting Chairman, EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, called for continuous sensitisation on issues around AML/CFT reporting to improve transparency in BDCs operations.

He said the EFCC would continue to campaign for financial integrity and transparency in BDCs’ operations.

Other stakeholders at the event also spoke on the use of BDCs for illicit political transactions, illegal border cash evacuation, reporting of suspicious transactions, fraud accounts transactions and cash dollar deposits on domiciliary accounts.

The NFIU/EFCC/ABCON goal is to ensure that BDCs are not used to launder funds by Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs). Their target was also to upscale BDCs’ compliance with the AML/CFT for Banks and Other Financial Institutions in Nigeria, Regulations 2013.

These capacity building workshops have helped BDCS to understand how to raise and submit both the Suspicious Transaction Reports (STRs) and Currency Transaction Reports (CTRs) to regulators.

Report filling by BDCs

ABCON has continued to ensure that BDCs file their reports as and at when due. They file reports on all transactions from N10 million for companies and N5 million for individuals. The reports are sent on weekly basis NFIU, CBN and EFCC.

The BDCs also do customers Know Your Customer (KYC) and due diligence reports.

Daily Transaction Returns (DTR) gives details of the total sales made for the day by the BDC and comes in as DTR 202, DTR 217, DTR 305 and DTR 315.

The DTR 217 return gives the information of the customers of whom the forex was sold to. Information like, the name, the International Passport number, Bank Verification Number (BVN), address, TIN number, email address among others while DTR 305 provides details of the customers as well their destination and reason for the purchase of forex. The total amount of forex sold to them is also mention with the transaction date.

The DTR 315 tells BDCs’ opening balance, amount purchased in forex, the equivalent in naira and the rate of purchase, amount sold in forex, the equivalent in naira and the selling rate as well as the closing balance.

The Monthly Transaction Returns (MTR) also known as the MTR returns is a compilation of the daily and is sent to the CBN Trade and Exchange Department. It also comes in four parts MTR202, MTR217, MTR 305 and MTR 315. It is pertinent to note that these returns as described above are rendered in soft copies (electronically) and hardcopies to the CBN.

Gwadabe said ABCON’s primary goal is to ensure that its members comply with all regulations and this will be sustained. We equally have internal mechanisms that is always deployed to punish erring operators.

We want to continually ensure that BDCs provide liquidity at the retail end of the market and also share intelligent information with government, whenever we have such information. We have also come to realise that knowledge of compliance makes the job of security operative easier.

The group also ensures that BDCs provide liquidity at the retail end of the forex market and also share intelligent information with government, whenever they have such information in the overall interest of the financial system.

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3 DAYS OF HELL IN NIGER: GUNMEN KILL 1, KIDNAP 3 , RAPE 10 WOMEN, DISPLACE 800

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3 DAYS OF HELL IN NIGER: GUNMEN KILL 1, KIDNAP 3 , RAPE 10 WOMEN, DISPLACE 800

Victims recount losses as IDPs protest, block roads

 

 

HELL! That is the best expression to qualify the situation that befell the people of Shiroro, Rafi and Kagara local government areas of Niger State during the week as they did not have any moment of respite from hoodlums for three consecutive days. Many residents of the three local council areas were forced to flee their homes while being dispossessed of their belongings by bandits, who were said to have emerged from the forests of neighbouring states. Investigations by Saturday Telegraph shows that communities attacked were Kukoki, Kusherki, Rafin-wayam, Rafin-kwakwa and Gidan Dogo-Gurgu communities in the three council areas, leaving behind, sorrow, tears and blood.

 

This is coming barely a week after some North West states, including Sokoto, Zamfara and Katsina states, started negotiating with bandits to drop their weapons and get amnesty.

 

 

According to security sources, the striking of peace deals with the criminals is taking a toll on the North Central state, as the hoodlums were said to have found a new haven in Niger, having reached an accord with North West governors not to disturb the peace in their states. A retired police officer, who pled anonymity, told our correspondent that the situation in Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina and elsewhere in the North West, might have forced the bandits to ply their trades in Niger State. “The idea of negotiating with common criminals, which is becoming a fad among many state governors, has led to this.

 

These bandits have been paid and they have promised not to disturb the peace in all the states they used to attack.

 

“They have no choice than to fulfill their promise to those states helmsmen because they were handsomely rewarded to stop the madness, but at the same time, the hoodlums also want to continue their illicit trade, so they have no choice than to channel their skills towards Niger State”, the retired officer said. Further findings reveal that most of the victims of the frequent attacks were women and children who were seen crossing a stream in order to reach a safe zone where they are currently taking refuge in a school at Kagara in Rafi Local Government area of the state.

 

Multiple sources, who spoke with our correspondent, lamented that the bandits, on Wednesday alone, raped over 10 women while confirming that one of those raped is now hospitalised at the General Hospital, Kagara, receiving medical attention. Only one was killed -Police

 

The Niger State Police Command however denied the news making the rounds that there were multiple killings, noting that only one person, Abubakar Kaura, was killed and three others kidnapped by unknown gunmen who invaded Kusherki Community in Rafi Local Government Area of the state.

 

It was reliably gathered that the deceased was shot dead after he told the kidnappers that he was a farmer and had no money to part with. Condemning the renewed attacks on Shiroro and Rafi local government areas of the state, Governor Abubakar Sani Bello appealed to the affected communities to cooperate with security agencies in the area by providing credible intelligence that would lead to the hideout of the bandits, stressing   that the issue of security was a collective responsibility. Massacre on Sunday One of the villagers, who gave his name as Ahmed Garba, told our correspondent that the attackers invaded some houses about 1am on Sunday while it was raining heavily and took three people away.

 

 

Ahmed said: “The kidnappers took one of my cousins, Jafaru Jibrin, and he was wearing only shorts and a shirt. Apart from Jibrin, two other people, one Abdulrashid Muhammad and the daughter of the slain farmer, Safina Kaura, were also kidnapped.”

 

He added that the kidnappers had contacted some relations of the kidnap victims, noting that they demanded N20 million ransom and threatened to kill their victims. He also called on the federal and state governments to be more proactive to prevent further attacks. “We are calling the attention of the authorities concerned to take proactive measures to forestall further attacks”, he said.

 

Havoc on Monday

As if the villagers had not had enough, the following day (Monday), another set of bandits numbering about 200 took over Kukoki village, sacking most people from their homes. Confirming the incident in a telephone conversation, the Director General of the Niger State Emergency Management Agency, Mr. Ahmed Inga, said he received a report from the area that the gunmen had invaded the community in broad daylight on Monday, shooting sporadically into the air.

 

Disclosing further that the villagers, in their hundreds, fled their homes through the forest and by crossing rivers, Inga said: “We have given palliatives to the people and we are still going to do more because the number of IDPs has increased”. A villager, who gave his name as Ibrahim Abubakar also corroborated the report, saying that the bandits were fully armed. “They subjected some of our people to torturing, beating some of them to the point that they became unconscious.

 

They took away some of our women”, Abubakar said. He added that the bandits ransacked many houses in the village, dispossessing the people of their belongings including food, clothing materials and cellphones. Cattle rustling on Tuesday.

 

On Tuesday, the communities were again attacked by bandits, who rustled cows and other flocks. The attacks by the bandits were witnessed in Rafin-wayam, Rafin-kwakwa as well as Gidan Dogo-Gurgu villages. Confirming the Tuesday incident, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) Muhammad Abubakar, told the Saturday Telegraph that the invasion took place around the hinterland, adding that men of the force had swung into action and would do everything to protect the lives and properties of the people in the affected areas.

 

“We are aware of these attacks in that area. The Police are reviewing the security architecture of communities in the hinterland because it appears they are prone to this type of security breach”. Abubakar also assured the people that the bandits would be apprehended and brought to book.

 

Eyewitness accounts told the Saturday Telegraph that some heavily armed bandits that attacked on Tuesday operated on motorcycles numbering over 30, with each cyclist having two passengers.

The witnesses noted that the hoodlums ransacked the three communities and forced people to run to Kagara, the headquarters of Rafi Local Government. One of the eyewitnesses, Malam Dahiru, said: “The bandits were armed with guns and other dangerous weapons; they encircled us at Rafin Wayam village and took all our foods especially breads and beverages before they left for Pangu-Gari community. “As at 6:45pm on Tuesday, there was mass exodus from the three villages with people numbering over 800 hundred moving through the forest and waters to safer places especially to the open camps in Kagara.”

 

 

Youths on the rampage Wednesday As a response to the incessant attacks, youths of Kagara town, on Tuesday and Wednesday blocked the Lagos-Kaduna Highway to protest the banditry and kidnappings in their area, while chanting solidarity songs and calling on the federal and state governments to swiftly respond to their plight, lamenting that they had been abandoned to their fate. Some of the youths carried various placards with different inscriptions, such as; ‘We need help’, ‘Government, save us’, ‘Help us with food, water’, among others. Some of them were chanting anti-government slogans over the slow approach to the plight of displaced persons sacked by bandits for three days consecutively. Lamenting the poor conditions of the Internally Displaced Persons camp (IDPs), one of the youths who gave his name as Jamilu, said: “There are no foods, water and makeshift sanitary facilities.” He also called on the state government to urgently send food and other basic necessities to the affected IDPs from Kukoki, Rafin Wayam, Rafin Kwakwa, Gidan Dogo-gurgu, Maranji and Hanawanka areas.

 

Thursday: IDPs protest against govt When the state government visited Rafi LGA on Thursday, the Internally Displaced Persons taking shelter at a temporary shelter in Tegina, Rafi Local Government Area blocked the Tegina-Minna Road protesting over an alleged failure by the state government to address the security challenges in their communities. The protesters mostly women and children accused the government of handling their situation with levity. One of the women, Aisha Mohammed, said: “For the past four days after the bandits sacked us from our homes, we have been living under harsh conditions without any serious attention from the state government. “More than 10 of our women have been raped.

 

As I am talking to you now, we have lost hope in the government because we have neither eaten nor slept well. There’s nothing tangible to show that the governments have us in mind.” Other women, who expressed their anger over the alleged nonchalant attitude of the government also blocked the roads with firewoods and used tyres in protest. Another victim, Maimuna Hassan, said: “We rejected the relief materials because, they are not things that we need. They should protect us and guarantee our security so that we can go back to our homes.”

 

It was gathered that, youths in the camp rejected the food items that were given to them by the government, saying they were not enough to cushion their needs. The items were however received by the elderly ones. Bello dispatches delegation to IDPs However, Governor Bello, while condemning the renewed attacks, appealed to the affected communities to cooperate with the security agencies in the area by providing credible intelligence that would lead to the arrest of the bandits, stressing that the issue of security was a collective responsibility. In a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Mrs. Mary Noel Berje, the governor said that the security operatives had been mandated to arrest the criminals. “We have made passionate appeal to the military to utilise the vast forest (hideout of the bandits) along the state’s boarder with Kaduna and Kebbi states by either establishing a formation or a training camp to checkmate their activities. “The criminals take advantage of the vastness and difficult terrain of the forest to unleash terror on innocent people.

 

We are fully supporting the joint security taskforce to chase the bandits out of the state”, he said. The governor also said that the state government was reviewing security strategies along the Rafi Local Government axis, adding that deployment of the joint security taskforce would be intensified. While sympathising with the victims of the recent banditry attacks in Kukoki and Kusherki communities, Bello who dispatched government’s delegation to the camp of displaced persons in Kagara, headquarters of Rafi Local Government of the state for safety assured the people that, the bandits would be chased out of the state. Senator Musa sues for peace Also, the Senator representing Niger East Senatorial District, Senator Mohammed Sani Musa, has described as unfortunate the situation which had forced more than 500 people to flee their homes. He decried that the people were living in fear, dispossessed of their means of livelihood. While calling for renewed vigour on the part of the police and other security agencies, in their fight against banditry in the state, he urged the Federal Government to, as a matter of national importance, immediately dispatch a detachment of the military to tackle the renewed spade of attacks in Rafi and Shiroro local government areas of the state. He said: “In the last few days, our people have not had a moment of peace.

 

They are on the run, forced to flee their homes and dispossessed of their belongings by the attackers. This cannot go on. So, I urge the security agencies to immediately take action to handle the situation. “It hurts to see our people running helter skelter due to the operations by bandits.

 

They have been sacked from their homes and almost all they have laboured for taken from them. I am really pained. “As a Senator representing Niger East, my people are being subjected to such inhuman treatment; something urgently needs to be done to restore hope to the affected persons.”

 

More lamentations One of the women who lost her produces, Hassana Mohammed, blamed the state government for abandoning them allowing the bandits to attack them continuously for four days. According to her “what offence have we committed? What have we done wrong that our children are being killed mercilessly? We are villagers and we are the once the government should treat and protect. “We farm and cultivate out produces and the government comes to buy from us at very cheap rate. If we do not farm, what then will the government eat?

 

“For abandoning us, and allowing these bandits to rape our women, kill our children, steal our produces and render us homeless, we will not forgive the perpetrators, we regret voting for the governor. “Instead of protecting us, the government has connived with the bandits to kill our children. It is the government that sent the bandits to kill us the villagers and God will punish him.” One of the aggrieved youths, Ahmed Suleiman, who also spoke with our correspondent said: “this government is insensitive and we do not want a reign of tyranny.

 

This is unacceptable and there is nothing we can say to the Governor (Abu Lolo) than to say God will fight for us and the way he has treated us, same way God will treat him and his family”. Police give assurance Again, the PPRO confirmed to our correspondent that, the police in Niger State had sent their men and officers to the affected communities, adding that “we have even sent our men after the bandits. We are also applying intelligence tactics. “We have resolved this. There will be no hiding place for these bandits, the challenge we have is that they (bandits) are taking advantage of the hinterlands. You know how big and vast Niger State is, and the Police cannot be everywhere at the same time. “So, we are calling on the people to monitor their areas and inform us on any strange movements.

 

Those that have been kidnapped, I can assure you that by the grace of God, they will regain their freedom. We have taken proactive measures and those affected will very soon go back to their communities”, he said.

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SS1 student hospitalised after 41-days dry fasting

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SS1 student hospitalised after 41-days dry fasting
  • I do menial jobs to carter for him, siblings –Widowed mum

 

 

  • He was praying against our misfortune, says brother

 

 

Doctors and Nurses at Alex Ekwueme Federal University Teaching Hospital Abakaliki, Ebonyi State (AE-FUTHA) are battling to save the life of an SS1 student, Ikechukwu Oke who was hospitalized after observing 41-days dry fasting.

 

 

He had severally complained of hardship in the family and sort assistance from government and private individuals but to no avail.

 

 

He hawks sachet water otherwise known as pure water and gala in Onitsha Anambra after every academic term in the school calendar, to raise his school fees; and decided to embark on 41-days praying and fasting to seek God’s intervention.

 

 

The 19 year old student of Ishieke Secondary School, Ebonyi local government area of the state, who hails from Ohataekwe in Umuezeokaoha community, Ezza North local government area, collapsed at the weekend after the 41-days praying and fasting which he observed on a mountain in Abakaliki metropolis.

 

 

Oke had sneaked to the mountain to commence the dry fasting on 23rd July, without informing his mother and elder brother, Obinna Oke, who lives with him in Ishieke.

 

 

Some of his prayer colleagues however hurriedly carried him to the elder brother who consulted a patent medicine dealer who administered drip and some drugs in an attempt to revive him.

 

 

A former House of Rep member in the state and an old boy, of Ishieke secondary school, Peter Edeh, who was not satisfied with the treatment, mobilized people to take him to Alex Ekwueme Federal University Teaching Hospital Abakaliki (AE-FUTHA) for proper medicalbm attention.

 

 

Edeh said “He is unable to speak, but arrangements have been made to take him to hospital. His mother, a widow, is with him now. On a notepad beside him, he listed some of his problems which include constant spiritual attacks, family afflictions, and other academic and financial problems.”

Sunday Telegraph traced Oke to the Accident and Emergency Unit of the AE-FUTHA where he was being examined by a medical doctor.

 

 

Our correspondent was unable to speak with him as Doctors prevented him from making contact with Oke.

 

 

But his elder brother, Obinna Oke said nobody was aware of the boy’s action, describing it as shocking and bizarre.

 

 

He noted that he wouldn’t have allowed his brother to embark on such “suicidal mission”.

 

 

He said: “Ikechukwu is my younger brother. He is a healthy persons and does not suffer any ailment. He lives with me in Ishieke where I do mechanic, he told me that he would like to visit our mother in the village and assist her in her farm activities since school had closed for the term. It was in July that he said this to me and that he will visit our sister in Onitsha Anambra State after helping our mother in the village. He promised to return to me and then left. He has no phone as to enable me to know how he was doing. I decided to go to our village and check on him. When I asked of him, I was told he has gone to Anambra State.

 

 

“While I was working in my site at Ishieke, people came to me and said that my brother Ikechukwu has been brought back home and that he was dying. I asked who carried him home and I was told it was two persons who said that they went for prayers at a mountain in Abakaliki and he collapsed, they said he did 41 days fasting and prayer without tasting anything. They told me that on the last day of the prayer, he collapsed and they decided to carry him home after inquiring where he comes from.

 

 

“I asked him why he decided to do that type of fasting and prayer without telling me because he is supposed to be taking water or fruit during such long fasting. He said there was no cause for alarm and that he decided to do the dry fasting because of our condition which he had severally complained have gone worst”.

 

 

Oke disclosed that his brother wanted to become a Reverend Father, but there is no one to assist him which was why he put him in secondary school so as to join Junior Seminary School after graduation to know if he can actualize his ambition.

 

 

On her part, Oke’s mother, Elizabeth Oke said “Ikechukwu Oke is my 5th Son, my husband died in 1996. Ikechukwu’s elder brother my first son, took him from me to assist in training him since their father is no more and things became difficult for us.

“He was enrolled into school by the elder brother. After school closes in any academic session, Ikechukwu always visit me to work for me.

 

 

After assisting me in the village, he will move to Onitsha Anambra State where one of his sisters is living. The sister, who is one of my daughters, was adopted by someone and have been in Onitsha. So, Ikechukwu usually go there to live with them and hawk water (pure water) and gala to raise money for his school fees. After hawking the water and gala, he usually comes back to me to inform me that he has returned from Onistha for his studies.

 

 

“He had returned for this term and told me that he wants to go to Ishieke to see his elder brother he is living with. He told me that he will   still come back to me after seeing him so as to harvest cassava in our farm to process Garri (food) he will take back to school for his feeding. He left his brother after his visit and his brother thought that he h gone back to see me not knowing he went for dry fasting and prayer at a mountain in Abakaliki.

 

 

“His brother decided to come to home after expecting him and asked me where Ikechukwu is, whether he was no longer harvesting the cassava for food processing.

 

 

I didn’t know he was going for 41 days dry fasting, nobody knew it because we wouldn’t allow him to do such long fasting though he has been doing fasting and prayer but this one is the longest.

 

 

“So, people brought Ikechukwu to the hospital and he was dying, they alerted me in the village and I trekked long distance under heavy downpour to come and see him in the hospital. When he was revived in the hospital, I asked him why he did such fasting without our consent and he said we will not allow him to do it if he had informed us. He lamented that things were becoming more difficult for us and he had to do the dry fasting for God’s intervention.

 

 

“We are actually suffering, we started suffering immediately I lost their father. Things are very difficult for us, nobody ask whether we exist or not. I usually serve men building houses, I serve as a laboiurer and they pay me N1,400 daily from which I have been using to carter for my children. I almost lost one of my hands while doing this tedious job, it is a hard job. My son, Ikechukwu’s elder brother told me to stop the work but I don’t have means of survival.

 

 

“Ikechukwu always complain of our condition and always do fasting and prayer for it. He usually complain that we are not moving forward, no improvement in our poor condition. He started this his prayer in early stage when he was 11 years old. We are all Catholics and Ikechukwu belongs to Charism organization in the church, he belongs to various prayer groups in the church while myself belong to charity organization. We are all committed in the things of God and we have been begging him to have mercy on us and change our story”.

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Cafe: Giving succour to indigent women

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Cafe: Giving succour to indigent women

T

he rainy season of last year did not spare many of the households in Eziagalu Aguleri in Anambra East Local Government Area of Anambra State.

 

 

Being a rain forest zone both the flooding and the attendant erosion that trailed the down pour dealt a great blow on the home of Mrs. Joy Bank Mokwugwo a widow who lost her husband years ago.

 

 

On that fateful day, the rain was unprecedented and Mrs. Mokwugwo battled without end to protect her family from the unrelenting elements.

 

 

But her house was indeed a recluse of itself as the roof was leaking and the deep cracks on the walls portending looming danger of the building collapsing on the heads of the embattled widow and the rest of the family.

 

 

Deepening the apprehension further was the frequent visit of rodents and some undesirable reptiles into the house hold which had constantly kept the occupants on their toes.

 

 

This embattled widow, in her late 40s, does not have a helping hand as her neighbours are co-travellers in the journey through hardship, neglect and penury.

 

 

She merely depended on few hand outs from sympathizers and friends who could provide little or nothing to salvage her predicament.

 

 

But just last weekend Mrs. Joy Mokwugwo literarily found her youth all over again, when the avalanche of woes and frustration became a story she would tell her grandchildren.

 

 

On that day, wife of the Anambra State governor Chief Mrs. Ebele Obiano officially commissioned a new bungalow built for the struggling widow marking the end of her frustrations with fate smiling to her favour.

 

 

The building was built to taste and the Anambra State Commissioner for Women Affairs Mrs. Ndidi Mezue was directed to commence furnishing of the building.

 

 

But Mrs Mokwugwo is not the sole beneficiary of the First Lady’s magnanimity, as a bore hole sank by Mrs. Obiano was not only to be enjoyed by her; but also by those living around her with a standby power generating set to provide the needed energy for the water project.

 

 

Speaking during the commissioning of the project Mrs. Ebele Obiano explained: “This is the 27th building project for widows in Anambra State and this is under the Caring Family Enhancement Initiative (CAFE) a non-governmental organisation and foundation which has been an age long project before my husband became governor.

“This project cuts across the three senatorial districts of Anambra State. So if you go round the state you will see such buildings constructed and handed over to indigent widows and more of these building projects are still under construction.

“When we saw the situation our sister was going through, it became important that we give her a new home and that is why we are here today.”

 

 

Continuing Mrs. Obiano explained that her foundation has empowered over 4,600 persons in the area of vocational training in various walks of life which includes hair dressing, food vending, tailoring among others, adding that the some of N50, 000 was made available to them as seed money to take off while working facilities are also provided for them.

 

 

“These beneficiaries also train people that we send to them and at their graduation they are also empowered to train others. You can appreciate its multiplayer effect on the society and especially those in the rural areas,” she said.

 

 

The commissioning of the building project was indeed part of the activities marking the end of the Anambra Mothers summit popularly known as August meeting by Christian Women in Anambra State.

 

 

At the Anambra East Local Government Sports Complex in Otuocha, venue for the closing ceremony, women from the communities in area across Christian denomination were present to climax the yearly occasion.

Speaking earlier the member representing Anambra East and West federal constituency, Chief Chinedu Obidigwe described the mothers’ summits as one that has become a platform for the empowering of Anambra women through skill acquisition and community service.

 

 

“I am here to support this year’s mothers’ summit in my state Anambra because all of us here have mothers living or dead. I commend the efforts of our first lady who incidentally is our wife in the use of her foundation to assist both women and the youths in Anambra,” he said.

 

 

Obidigwe further noted that: “This was made possible because His Excellency the governor gave her a free hand to use her foundation to touch the lives of our people and this is true to the nature and ideology of our party the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) which is be your brothers’ keeper.

“Today a lot of communities that have not enjoyed or even seen electricity power supply have benefited from it. There are men in their 70s who are seeing electricity for the first time in their lives and this is through the instrumentality of Governor Willie Obiano’s administration.”

He then donated machines for hair dressing and generators for women and provided funds for their take-off.

 

 

Chairman of Anambra East Local Government Area, Barr. Obi Nweke announced a donation of five sowing machines with accessories for the empowerment of women in the area.

 

“This is my modest donation to our women because you Her Excellency cannot do all these things alone and as a government we shall do all that we can to assist your foundation at all times,” he said.

Igwe Mike Idigo, the Traditional Rural of Aguleri, described this year’s Mothers’ Summit as inspiring, adding that the practices should be encouraged for the good of the Anambra women.

The Commissioner for Women Affairs, Mrs. Ndidi Mezue told reporters that next year’s Mothers’ Summit would be taken to the next level.

 

“Comparatively this year’s Mothers’ Summit is a huge improvement to the one we had last year and I wish to express my appreciation to Her Excellency, Chief Mrs. Ebele Obiano for her assistance.

 

 

“Next year we intend to inject other programmes that would not only educated our women but create more awareness among our women. As you can see today we had talks from the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) society for those living with sickle cell and the Federal Road Safety corps.

 

 

By next year we shall inject fresh tonic for the good of our women and the entire Anambra society,” she said.

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Coscharis Farm targets 20% of Nigeria’s $3bn rice import bill –Dr. Maduka

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Coscharis Farm targets 20% of Nigeria’s $3bn rice import bill –Dr. Maduka

A couple of months ago, the video of billionaire industrialists and farmer, Dr. Cosmas Maduaburochukwu Maduka, President of Coscharis Group of Companies, preaching on the street in Lagos went viral on social media, leaving people wondering how such a man of such extraordinary means could take such risks at this time Nigeria is battling with serious security challenges. However, in this no holds bared interview with select journalists, Maduka says, “I have just one life to live, and I am not afraid of death, but take this from me: Nobody can do anything to me until God finishes with me.” PAUL OGBUOKIRI brings you the excepts

 

 

 

viral video of you out on the street preaching the gospel with a megaphone has elicited diverse reactions, particularly on social media. What informed the decision to embark on street evangelism?

 

 

Well. I didn’t know why people were surprised. For me and my family, we were surprised when we saw how that thing went viral in the social media. My children were like ‘what’s the big deal? This is our daddy’s life, and we have been living like this.’ It is just that somebody that knows me recorded it and put it up there. I have been doing this since when I was 14. If I don’t have a wedding on Saturday, you will see me in the street preaching. I do that from church to church, but it is our mandate to preach the gospel. I never stayed a week without talking to someone about Jesus Christ. But, going to the street is what I do on Saturdays. We were shocked it meant a lot to a many people. A lot of people believe that, it is not something that is in vogue anymore, but it is fundamental to people like me.

 

 

What is the name of your church? I ask because people who do what you are doing usually have their own churches?

 

 

I used to worship with the Upper Room Mission here in Kirikiri (Lagos) some years ago. After some years, I left Upper Room Mission and joined the Christian Pentecostal Mission (CPM) in Ajao Estate. When I left CPM, I joined Local Christian Assembly in Ebute-Meta. I was a deacon in that church until this year that I felt my calling is becoming too demanding on me. If I share the programme of my activities in the last two months with you, you will realise that I am about making my exit (from running my business).

 

 

The two boys are here and I told them that I am giving them a notice of additional four years for me to quit finally. I now spend more of my time in ministration than I do in the business. I will basically hand Coscharis over to them, giving them authority and responsibility and also trying possibly to take one of the companies to the public in the next five years before I finally quit, so that I can take some money for my retirement. This is really what my life is. I have given the business aspect its best.

 

 

I am 61. I am going to be 62 by December. And, I just want to see what I can do with the next 20 years of my life. There are not much you can do at 80 and 85. So, I wanted to focus with the gospel and try to make presentations at universities.

 

 

I spoke in the University of Lagos last year. I am speaking in the Obafemi University on September 23. I have done it in the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and I have done it in Kogi. Of course, I was invited by the United Nations in 2014 to speak on youth entrepreneurship. That was my first time at the UN and about 163 countries were represented in that gathering. I was explaining practical experiences, not theory. I speak on things they don’t teach you in Harvard that we meet in our day-to-day businesses.

 

 

People are concerned that by preaching in the open you are taking a big risk at a time crime cases, like kidnapping, are rife all over the country. Don’t you fear for your life?

 

 

We have one life to live, not two lives. In the book of Acts of Apostle, chapter 14, Apostle Paul said: “I have heard prophecies; there is a balm over me, Jerusalem. What do I care anymore about my life? Where is the best place to die?” I will like to be shot speaking the word of God. I have one life and I am not afraid of death, but take this from me: Nobody can do anything to me until God finishes with me. And that is where people make mistake.

 

 

Life is not how long you lived but how much impact you made in life. Jesus died at 33 and we have not stopped talking about him. Peter James, John, none of them lived up to 70 years. We still talk about them today. But, in only one verse we read in the bible, Methuselah was 999 before he died. Nothing more was said about Methuselah. Life is about how impactfully and how effectively you have lived, and not how long you have lived.

 

Would you have been so close to God and preaching in the street as you are doing now if you were a poor man or a struggling man?

 

 

So many struggling people do this. The unfortunate thing there is that a lot of struggling people did it sincerely with devotion, but they think, because they do this, they are closer to God. And they think it is because they do it that they are not wealthy. God used me to demystify some mysteries about people’s lives: For instance, that a rich man cannot serve God. And that you cannot serve God being rich. It is a national norm. People are very comfortable to believe that if you want to be right with God, forget about money – that money is another god; that it is a mammon, and so, don’t serve it.

 

 

They believe that if you want to serve God, accept poverty as a way of life and you will never be able to put food on the table. Some have even jumped into ministration because of their stomach. That is why they cannot preach their heart. They can preach for their stomach. They want to say something that will give them daily bread. But somebody like me, if I stand talking with you today, I don’t have any form of financial crisis in my mind. Money never crosses my mind. I will tell you the truth without any reservation, because I don’t have any offering box for you to drop money in. Rather, if you need some, I will drop mine. I also don’t want to start church. If I start a church, my church will be full.

 

 

At what point did you start trading on your own?

 

 

One fateful day after I had turned 14, we were having a camp meeting and it was our third day of fasting, and my uncle got to know that I locked up the shop for three days. That did not go down well with him; so he called me and my elder brother, and said he understood I was becoming a religious fanatic, but would not want to stand in my way. In fact, mine is a strong Catholic family, and my being a born-again Christian brought a lot of disaffection against me in the entire family. My boss counted N200 and gave it to me. That was in 1976. I was devastated, because frankly speaking, it wasn’t a big amount owing to the fact that you couldn’t even rent a shop with it. In fact, N200 could not buy one carton of spark plugs.

 

 

So, in the presence of my elder brother, I asked my boss to tell me what he wanted me to do with the money. He told me that whatever I wanted to do with it was entirely up to me. I said, ‘no, I served you for six years plus, and you could give me say a minimum of N10, 000 or N20, 000. At the worst, you can give me N5000, because I need to get a shop and stock merchandise there. Where do I go with this sum?’ And he instantly told me that whatever I wanted to do with it, I should do. My elder brother got angry and said I should forget it. He handed the money back to my uncle and said, ‘let’s go’. I turned to him and asked him if he kept any money to give me when we get home. He said ‘no.’

 

 

Did overcoming very daunting challenges so early in your life prepare you for the greatness that you have attained today?

 

 

Of course! After my encounter with my boss, I went back home to join my brother and together we formed a company known as Maduka Brothers. We worked together and within six months, we started to differ in ideology, and we agreed to part ways. With the profit we had made and what I got after I had settled with him, my money was either N316 or N346. So, he stayed on his own and I got another place where a friend of mine gave me free of charge for six months. I put my merchandise there. I was 15 then, but I already had clear goals of what I wanted for myself: I wanted to marry before 20. I wanted to own my car by 23. I wanted to have a son by 21. And, I wanted to be a millionaire by 25.

 

 

And, I also said, ‘write all these down, because it wasn’t a mere dream.’ But, that created problems for me, because people felt my mouth was too big. I was hated for saying those things. My mother even got irritated by these things I used to say. She thought that I should be a little bit cautious. In fact, she said I boasted too much. Eventually, I got married when I was 19 years plus. I have been married for 41 years now. My son didn’t come until I was 26. I bought my first car at 22, not 23. It was a Volkswagen Passat. I bought it from Mandilas with 3000 kilometers on the odometer. I recalled carrying my wife in that car and my mother was sitting behind. We were going to someone and like my usual self, I said, ‘I am 23; in the next two years, I will be a millionaire.’ My mother said ‘no, no!’ And I repeated, ‘in two more years, I will be a millionaire.’

 

 

My mother said my statement was turning her stomach. She told me not to say that again, and that if I did, she would come down from the car. I parked the car and I repeated it. I now asked her: ‘Do you want to come down, and she said ‘yes.’ I opened the door, she got out, and I closed the door and drove off, leaving her standing at that spot. It was like I was crazy, but it was my faith. But she was alive to see it all happen, because she drove a brand new Mercedes 190 from me

 

 

I think God also rewarded her through me. I had my first son at 26 and the second one at 30. I ended up having four boys or actually five boys {because one is late} and a girl. My daughter is a medical doctor. The two boys read Economics at the University of Lagos, and did their post-degree courses in the UK and Massachusetts (in the United States). They are all back to join the company. My third son is also a graduate. The last boy just graduated with 4.0 GPA, and is currently studying for his Masters degree in Cincinnati University, Ohio (also in the United States). He did that at no cost to me, because he is an athlete. He runs and jumps for the school. So he studies under scholarship.

 

 

 

He is good in sports and I think he took after my wife who she used to run 400 meters when she was in school.

 

 

Coscahris has also ventured into rice farming in Anambra State. Do you see Nigeria being self sufficient in rice production?

 

 

We (Nigeria) will be self-sufficient in rice, because Coscharis alone has about 3,000 hectares of land for rice production that used to yield four tonnes per hectare. Now that we have developed the seed, we are getting eight tonnes per hectare. In other words, we have had another 3,000 hectares of land. For now, irrigation is finished and we are going to start next season. That means we have multiplied our supply. We used to have 4,000. We are having 8, 000 now, and we are going to have 16, 000, by the dimension of the farm, and if we succeed to do three crop seasons, we will have 24,000 tonnes on that same piece of property. Before, we only did one crop season in a year. But with irrigation now, we will do two crop seasons. We have Nigerian seed that only yields us four tons, but we have gotten seeds imported from elsewhere that yields us eight tonnes. If we take the hybrid type, we get 10 tons per hectare. That means we have to continue to import the hybrid. However, we are making arrangements with the hybrid type.

 

 

In fact, we are already thinking of having a second mill now. I am sure, if what we are working on works out exactly the way we are planning it, in three years, we will solve 100 per cent rice demand in the eastern part of Nigeria. That is our goal. Nigeria spends $3 billion importing rice. We are targeting 20 per cent of that market and we will get it. We will then see how much further we can go. We are not in other industries, but 500 million people are going to eat. Coscharis Farms may as well be the mother parent company of Coscharis and not BMW and Rolls-Royce. That is my excitement and that is where I am retiring to. That is where I am going and that is where I am putting all my resources now. And that is where the future is. And we don’t use to advertise it because people are queuing up to buy. They are trucking rice every day. It is consumable because people eat it today, in the afternoon and night. However, it is capital intensive.

 

 

We are planning to buy an aircraft to do our seedling. You will be proud that something like that is happening across the Niger. The mill is in Igbariam, very close to the Igbariam University. I had planned this and purchased the land 29 years ago. I have always known that I am going to retire in the farm.

 

 

People were pushing me but I understood long ago that you cannot go into farming with borrowed money. I knew it was something that required a lot of investment. So, I didn’t want to go into it until I was prepared. But I was purchasing the property. This property I bought 330 hectares from some people. I took Life Brewery’s 600 hectares. I bought over 800 hectares from Bravo. I was buying land from different people and putting them together. So I had 3,000 hectares of land is about 11 miles square kilometers. People used to ask if such land exists in Anambra State? Again, they are bordered by rivers. It took me 29 years to acquire the land because I have always known that I would be a farmer. People don’t usually buy land for farming and they always want government to give them. But I bought the land and I have the certificate of occupancy. Now I am getting the villagers to teach them how to do modern farming, buy up their stuff and put them in our silos and mill them. The mill is working 24/7. We are planning to acquire a second mill. So, that is where the future of our organisation is.

 

 

What secrets of success would you give to any young man who approaches you with the question: How do I become a billionaire like Cosmas Maduka?

 

 

The first thing I would tell the person is to refer him to the Bible. One of the secrets of the kingdom that Jesus brought is about management. The difference between a garden and bush is that you organise the garden. You take away some wild plant from the garden, but there are still trees and other things in it. Once you stop maintaining it, the garden becomes a bush.

 

 

Management is one of the skills that churches are lacking. If a young man comes to me today and says he wants to enter the ministry and what should he study between geology and financial management, I will tell him to go and study financial management because you don’t learn God in school. The reason why churches are attracting poor people is because an average pastor cannot even spell the word management.

 

 

The first discipline you learn is how to manage resources because resources are not in plenty supply. God instituted tithe to teach you the ability to set aside and to keep something. If you can learn the discipline to keep something or set aside for God, you will set aside for yourself. I believe in tithe and I tithe, not only in my pocket but in my business. If I make a billion naira in my business, 100 million naira goes for my ministry.

 

 

Do you still ride power bikes? In terms of security and safety, is it not too risky for a man of status?

 

 

I go for evangelism on my bike. I cruise with my BMW 1600cc – one of the most expensive and powerful super motorcycles from BMW Motorrad. The sound alone draws the crowd before I drop my gadgets and Bible for the gospel to start. I started riding bike when I was 11 years. Bike is in our family. My grandfather rode a bike, my mother rode a bike, my three sisters riden bike and my two brothers riden bikes also. So we are bikers in my family. Many people didn’t believe I will live to see 20 years based on the crazy way I ride. I have riden motorcycle from Nnewi to Benin and also from Nnewi to Enugu and then Afikpo. And, I have a very unconventional style of riding it; by perching on the seat – rather than sitting normally on it – and delivering all kinds of breathtaking manoeuvres.

 

 

As an investor, have you ever burnt your fingers in business? Have you ever been frustrated to a point where you felt like giving up?

 

 

In business, we have situations where we feel like throwing in the towel. Like everything in life, many times in our most agonising period, we remain optimistic and keep hoping for a bright future without letting people know how weak we have become. The year 2016 brought one of the toughest times for Coscharis Group in our 46 years of existence. The warehouse opposite us (at Mazamaza) was completely burnt and billions of naira was lost and insurance did not pay anything to us. In that process, we undertook a liability of $300 million that somebody reneged upon. It was a test case for my integrity and the franchise called Coscharis to remain in existence. We bit the bullet and moved on.

 

 

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Shipwrecks threaten nation’s economy, navigation –FOC

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Shipwrecks threaten nation’s economy, navigation –FOC

 

Flag Officer Commanding (FOC) Western Command, Nigeria Navy, Rear Admiral Oladele Bamidele Daji has said that Lagos waterways must be cleared of ship wrecks in order to ensure safe operations along the water ways.

 

 

Daji made this known recently when he led Defence Correspondents on the tour of the waterways, which he said were busy areas of the Navy.

 

 

He identified the water ways were shipwrecks must be removed to include Lagos Channels of Tin Can Island Port, Kirikiri to Navy Town and Badagry Creek.

 

 

FOC said: “You are aware of the Lagos Ports that is Apapa Port complex and the Tincan Island Ports are the gateways to our nation’s economy.

 

 

“Therefore, we can ill afford to have this menace of maritime wrecks dotting the landscape of our maritime space.”

 

 

Recalled damage caused by the shipwrecks earlier this year, when one of the Navy’s Ships, NNS Calabar struck one of them sending her to, and kept the Naval dockyard Limited, Victoria Island, Lagos for repairs, “In April, one of our vessels NNS Calabar, while leaving harbour for a patrol was involved in a mishap as she struck a submerged wreck, just in the middle of the channel, it caused damage to the ship.”

 

 

He added that such mishap would have been avoided, if the authorities in charge had acted promptly,” This could have been avoided if those wrecks were properly removed when they were identified.

 

 

“And it would have saved us a lot of the down time for the availability of the vessel as well as the money, the resources that we put into making that vessel operational, which have been deplored into better and more productive endeavours.”

 

 

Apart from NNS Calabar, he contuned: “Other vessels have also suffered similar thing in the past, when it comes to distress calls from vessels at sea.

 

 

“It becomes increasingly difficult for the agencies that are statutorily in charge to respond to such emergencies quickly, because of the threats posed by the wrecks in our waterways, especially at night is more of a restricted visibility, it is very difficult to see the exact location of this stress. But during the day, we might be able to figure out where they are.

 

 

“At a vessel near MT Sea voyager, a tanker at sea, the Nigerian Navy was able to swiftly respond to that distress call from the ship, because one of our ships that were on patrol at that time was quickly sent to the ship.”

 

 

He explained further that: “The hazards associated with these wrecks is that most often, especially during high water, they are submerged and hardly visible to mariners and it posed a greatest threat during this period of time.”

 

 

Daji, who focused on Navy’s busy areas of operation, also lamented on the absence of navigational aids.

 

 

“There are several navigational aids like the buoys, and other markings, the light houses that are either not functional or missing, or have shifted from their intended original positions.

 

“The absence of these navigational aids also constitutes risks to shipping, especially at night or during restricted visibilities.”

 

 

He said that apart from endangering shipping, most of the wrecks also constitute environmental hazards.

 

 

That it was necessary to ensure that the Lagos Channels remained stress free for navigation: “I don’t think it portrays us as a country with laws and regulations in good light, especially to the global shipping community.”

 

 

He, however, cited an instance of a Navy vessel, “if she had to transit from her base that is NNS Ekulu at Navy town, to the open sea, it could have been a monumental disaster, as such it was easy to vector her on the rescue operation in which 11 Pakistani nationals were safely rescued from the drowning ship.”

 

 

The hydrographers of the Nigerian Navy, who did scientific study of seas, lakes and rivers, especially the charting of the tides and changes in the coastal bathymetry, he said: “Were able to identify 35 of such maritime wrecks, which are submerged along the very busy Lagos channels particularly the Lagos Badagry Creek which also provides a vital access into the Tin Can Island Port and other numerous critical maritime related installations.

 

 

The Hydrographic Office, he said: “Is in line with its statutory responsibilities identified, resurveyed these wrecks from salvage. And I made bold to say that these surveys have been shared with the relevant agencies of government and departments who are responsible for the removal of these wrecks in our waterways.

 

 

“It would be therefore necessary for such authorities could take urgent actions and remove these wrecks in our waterways, so that shipping especially the safety of ships and seafarers will further be guaranteed.

 

 

“The basement and servicing of bad navigational aids of those that are not in base at all will equally add and assist in the safety of navigation as well as enhance the ability of responding agencies to quickly move and respond to emergencies incase of distress at sea.

 

 

“Above all timely reactions to distress call will be greatly enhanced thereby creating the needed enabling environment for businesses especially maritime related businesses to thrive also boost the confidence of seafarers in our waters.

 

 

The Commander, Western Naval command added: “The Nigerian Navy in carrying out its statutory responsibilities will continue to collaborate with all relevant stakeholders to ensure and promote the culture of safety and security of our waterways in order for us to have a secured environment for economic prosperity of our nation in general.”

 

 

Confirming the critical areas of operation affected, the Defence Correspondents were in the convoy of the FOC and his personnel on boats ride for the spot assessment of threats posed by the maritime wrecks that littered the waterways particularly within the Lagos Channels.

 

 

At the Shoreline of Marina, the first Police Jetty, a vessel merchant tanker was submerged, along the same axis was the Defence Jetty, a foreign ship anchored gradually going down to the bottom of the water, before we sailed to Tin Can Island Port.

 

 

Along the Tin Can Port were MT Askeris, MT. Davidson, MT Regina, MT Bade amongst others were vessels wrecked that have narrowed the Lagos channels.

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How fraudsters’ fight over woman led to collapse of crime syndicate

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How fraudsters’ fight over woman led to collapse of crime syndicate

A fraud syndicate, which has been in operation for years, finally crumpled like a pack of cards after two of its members started fighting over a lady called ‘Precious.’ The division in the syndicate, which had offices in different states and communities, led operatives of the Inspector- General of Police Special Intelligence Team (IRT), to smash the gang. The smashing of the gang followed a series of letters to the IGP, Mohammed Adamu, in Abuja, from some victims, detailing how they were defrauded.

 

The IGP instructed IRT operatives, led by a Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), Abba Kyari, to lead the investigation. At least, 11 members of the syndicate are currently in police custody. The suspects include a 28-year-old woman, Peace Eje.

 

 

Others are Frank Pius, Nduka Innocent, Okechukwu John, Nicholas Nwosu, Chikezie Uwandu, Amos Eze, Ikechukwu John, Michael Ali, Usman Ladan and Lawrence Adams. One of the members, Ladan, 60, said that trouble started after the overall leader, Adams, made moves to snatch his lover, Precious, from him. He believed that the split in the gang was the genesis of their waterloo. He said: “It was Mr. Lawrence that led the police to arrest me because we had a fight over Precious, who is my girlfriend.

 

As chairman, I coordinated all operations and I have all the materials that were used for operations.” According to the police, the syndicate specialised in defrauding unsuspecting residents of Kaduna State and the Federal Capital Territory, (FCT), Abuja, of their money. The suspects were all arrested in Kabala area of Kaduna State and Jabi area of Abuja. A police source said: “The syndicate operated, using cabs. When they have a target in their cab, they start a conversation about a bag filled with foreign currencies in the boot of the car.

 

The cab driver will accuse the supposed owner of the bag of trying to get him and other passengers into trouble by not informing him about the content in the bag. “The (supposed) owner of the bag will confess that the money was stolen from a very powerful Alhaji. The owner will claim to be looking for a spiritualist, to help take away the charm or juju on the money. The owner will offer to share the money with everyone in the vehicle that can help in getting a powerful medicine man or woman to cleanse the money.

 

“If the victim is a greedy person, he will show interest in the story and from that point, he’ll be taken to a fake native doctor. At the native doctor’s place, the victim will be asked to take an oath that he will not reveal the secret and event to anyone or he would die.

 

From that point, the victim will be swindled.” The alleged leader of the syndicate, Adams, 45, said that he joined the syndicate and rose to become its leader. He explained that he provided details on how the syndicate carried out operations. Adams, married to two wives, blessed with nine children, said: “I reside in Abuja metropolis, but I was formerly into tomatoes business. I would buy from Zaria and supply to different parts of the country. I fell into the hands of fraudsters and lost N850, 000. I later joined another syndicate in 2007. Members of the syndicate taught me how to do the job.”

 

Explaining the syndicate’s modus operandi, Adams said: “I usually sit at the front seat of the car, while other members seat at the back with the victim. When we get to a point, a member at the back will tell the driver that he wants to stop to carry his bag in the boot. The driver will tell him that he saw that the bag or carton contained money. The owner will tell the driver that the carton or bag contained $1million and that he was trying to take the money to his sister to help him remove the charm. “The driver will start shouting that he’ll take the money to the police.

 

My role is to beg the driver not to call the police. I would suggest that we help the owner of the money, on the promise that we’ll share out of it. The driver will accept our pleadings. We’ll then ask our victim, if he knows any herbalist that can remove the charm. “If he says no, I’ll mention that I have an herbalist. We’ll go there and the herbalist, who is part of us, will ask each of us to pay N80,000 for cleansing of the money. After we have achieved that, the herbalist will ask us to bring 500, 000 dollars each and then we would ask him to change the money in the bag to naira. I have lost count of the number of people I have defrauded.

 

We have offices in Jabi and Zango, close to Turkish hospital and at old Karimo.” Ladan on his part explained that he coordinated the Kaduna State arm of the syndicate. He said: “I was formerly a trader. I became a fraudster in 2008 after I was defrauded. My office is in Kaduna. It was formerly owned by Yusuf, who had died. I took over as the chairman. I have four boys working for me. Alex was our driver, but he had died. He was the person that used to hunt for victims. “We scout for victims along Nnamdi Azikiwe Road. Our shrine is located at Kabala area of Kaduna State.

I have lost count of the number of people I had swindled.” Amos Eze, 38, a fake native doctor of the syndicate, said: “I’m one of the group’s native doctors. When they bring a victim to my shrine, I pretend I don’t know members of our syndicate. They’ll ask for mama, I tell them that mama was dead. I will tell them that I’m in charge of mama’s shrine.” Eze continued: “I’ll ask what brought them to my shrine, they’ll claim they have family problems and needed solutions. I will consult my oracle and tell them that they were all liars and that they all met 30 minutes ago.

 

I will tell them that one of them was a thief, but not a good one. I will tell them that I saw money and charms. They’ll start begging me to remove the charms for them. “I’ll ask them to go and buy an Akpobiki skin, a blind man’s walking stick with oil and water in it, and Sarri water. These are things I know they couldn’t get by themselves.

They’ll ask me to get them. I’ll ask each of them to pay N30,000, so that I can get the items to prepare the cleansing of the money. “When the victim pays his own share of the money, I make them take an oath not to allow anyone outside their circle to know what was going on and from there, I’ll ask him to pray for long life and prosperity so that the money will not harm him. I’ll tell the victim that the charm to cleanse the money, was prepared by seven Islamic clerics. That it was prepared around 12 midnight. And from that point, I then start extorting money from the victim.”

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NIGERIA: AN END TO POLIO IN SIGHT

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NIGERIA: AN END TO POLIO  IN SIGHT

Polio, short for poliomyelitis, or infantile paralysis, is an infectious disease caused by poliovirus. In about 0.5 per cent of cases there is muscle weakness resulting in an inability to move. This can occur over a few hours to a few days. Nigeria, according to the World Health Organisation, has gone three years without a case of wild polio being detected. This, it said, is a significant milestone in the quest to eradicate the disease. ISIOMA MADIKE in this report looks at the journey so far

 

 

The news is cheering just as it reverberates throughout the continent of Africa. Nigeria had battled for years without success until 2016 when it started getting it right and the world applauded. Before then, Polio, short for poliomyelitis, or infantile paralysis, an infectious disease caused by poliovirus, appeared to have defiled all known solution in the country until it was finally conquered.

 

The last case of the disease in Nigeria was detected on August 16, 2016. The World Health Organisation (WHO) called the feat a significant milestone on Wednesday. WHO did not stop there but said that it represents the country’s quest to eradicate the disease. Nigeria, like most other African countries, is expected to be certified free of wild polio by early next year following an independent evaluation process, according to WHO. It however, added that vaccine-derived cases of the disease still pose a challenge.

 

“We are confident that very soon we will be back here trumpeting the certification that countries have, once and for all, kicked polio out of Africa,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa. Moeti attributed present progress to an “unprecedented scale” of multinational effort by governments, partners, and health workers, who have deployed financial and technical resources to provide vaccination and education, especially in remote areas. “It has involved men and women volunteering in their thousands, sometimes putting themselves in harm’s way,” Moeti said.

 

According to the world health body, once Africa is declared free of the disease, it will add to five of its regions that have been free of wild polio. It stated: “Only what the WHO calls the Eastern Mediterranean is still fighting the disease, with polio still endemic in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Cases due to the wild poliovirus found in nature have decreased by more than 99 per cent since 1988, from an estimated 350,000 cases then, to 33 reported cases in 2018.”

 

However, outbreaks of vaccinederived polio strains, reports said have occurred in Central African Republic, Somalia, Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo, Niger and Papua New Guinea in recent years. Vaccine-derived polio happens when live strains of poliovirus that are used in the oral poliovirus vaccine mutate, spread and, in rare cases, trigger an outbreak.

 

Most of the time, according to experts, the virus dies off but it can sometimes spread in an area where there is low vaccination coverage. The solution for stopping this type of polio, they added, is for every child to be vaccinated to stop its transmission. The WHO has also noted that if a population is fully immunized, they will be protected against both vaccinederived and wild polioviruses.

 

The circulating vaccine-derived polio will be subject to a certification process that is separate from the wild polio process, according to WHO. This year, 65 cases of wild polio virus and 51 cases of circulating vaccine-derived polio is said to have been recorded, according to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, compared to 18 cases of wild polio and 53 circulating vaccinederived polio cases in 2018. “Suboptimal routine immunization coverage remains a critical challenge in some countries,” the WHO said in a statement, adding, “as a result, outbreaks of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus — a rare occurrence in communities with low levels of population immunity — are still possible in several countries across Africa.”

 

Polio, or poliomyelitis, is transmitted from person-to-person through the fecal-oral route or contaminated food. Children under five are most vulnerable to the disease. Symptoms of the paralyzing disease include fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, stiffness in the neck and pain in the limbs.

 

 

There is no cure for polio though it can be prevented by a vaccine. But owing to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative — a partnership of WHO, The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, Rotary International and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation — only Afghanistan and Pakistan have recorded cases of wild polio virus in the last three years.

 

However, polio remains a problem globally, and a WHO committee designated the disease a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern” in November 2018 due to its risk of international spread. It was once a disease feared worldwide, striking suddenly and paralysing mainly children for life.

 

But today,   it only survives among the world’s poorest and most marginalised communities, where it stalks the most vulnerable children. This may be the reason why the global Initiative’s goal is to reach every last child with the vaccine and ensure a polio-free world for future generations. Before now, Nigeria was officially one of three countries, alongside Afghanistan and Pakistan, where polio was still a threat. But now the country is set to be removed from this unenviable list.

 

Although, it has been a difficult fight! Nigeria has reached this point thanks to the concerted efforts of a broad array of vaccine advocates, including traditional and religious leaders, a network of women who stepped up to take the oral form of the vaccine door to door, and polio survivors themselves.

 

And because this broad coalition has been able to act as reliable mediators, it closed the trust gap between the ambitious global goals of the powerful international organisations that fund the initiative. This milestone was made possible because the Nigerian government took responsibility, and parents who are concerned with protecting their children.

 

The edge of eradication isn’t a straightforward or stable place and had the local communities lost faith in the merits of the project or the people who connected to it, polio would have most likely come back with a vengeance. In spite of this, the evidence of polio devastation is all over Nigerian neighbourhoods, the cities inclusive. In the Kosofe-Ketu area of Lagos State, for instance, a young man identified simply as Adu weaved his tricycle between lanes crowded with bright yellow Keke Marwas, the three-wheeled cabs that ferry people back and forth across the metropolis. He tracked the road’s centreline on his bike, wearing a green and white striped national football jersey, completely unruffled by the afternoon rush. Off the Keke Marwa, he had to be more cautious about his movements.

 

When Adu wanted to walk, he placed the rubber soles of a flip-flop over each palm and used his arms. Polio had taken his legs, which are rail thin and often crossed beneath him when he isn’t driving. Adu said: “Because of the motorbike, I feel I’m able because I have movement. I thank God for the life I’m living, but I am not comfortable. However I want to tell everyone that cares to listen that they should immunize their kids— especially in this area.”

 

 

 

Just like Adu, another young man, who preferred to be called Abdul, also said: “One day, I fell ill and was unable to walk. I assumed that it was weakness, and didn’t pay much attention to it. I began to worry when my condition didn’t improve. After a few rounds of tests, I was diagnosed with polio. I later discovered that polio is an incurable disease. I would have been saved from a lifetime of disability if I had been given polio vaccinations. “It is a crippling and potentially fatal infectious disease.

 

There is no cure, but there are effective vaccines. Be wise and make sure that no child misses out on being vaccinated. Please help us spread our message to save lives.” Another survivor of this debilitating disease, who declined to give his name, recounted his heart-rending story. He said: “I was a sprouting 10-year-old girl in my neighbourhood and all was well. I’d hop on my bike and helped my older brother deliver newspapers up and down the streets in my locality. I’d swim and do a short bike-ride from our house.

 

I was in primary six at the time. “One day while walking home from school for lunch, kicking a stone down the road, my legs began to hurt. After a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and glass of cold milk, I said, ‘Mum, I can’t go back to school today.’ “My neck got stiff, my fever rose alarmingly, and what started as small pains turned into large ones. The doctor came and soon I was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance, diagnosed with polio. A few months later, I was happily playing with my friends on the polio ward at the hospital.

 

 

“The radio was on. A voice announced that there is a vaccine to prevent polio. Some of us turned silent, some of us laughed, and one patient cried out, ‘Too late for us!’ Here we were, a group of ill children on stretchers and in wheelchairs living through an historical moment when polio’s peril was replaced by joy and relief. “After several years of supports, wheelchairs, a full-length body cast, and a spinal fusion, I was back at school. I was a polio survivor, although I never thought of myself in those terms. For many years, I never looked back. My polio became a distant memory.”

 

Incidentally, this is not the case for many polio survivors, who were stricken before coming in contact with the vaccine. So many people had suffered from not only the active disease, but from years of disability afterwards. This may be the reason why Adu advised parents on the possible way out of this incapacitating disease. He said: “For those of you, who have the opportunity to protect your children with the polio vaccine, think of those ill children on the polio wards. Do not hesitate for one moment. You and your families are beyond lucky to be able to avoid this paralyzing disease.”

 

A few diseases frightened parents more in the early part of the 20th century than polio did. Its struck is seasonal, sweeping through towns in epidemics  every few years. Though most people recovered quickly from polio, some suffered temporary or permanent paralysis and even death. Many polio survivors were disabled for life. They were a visible, painful reminder to society of the enormous toll this disease took on young lives. Polio is the common name for poliomyelitis, which comes from the Greek words for grey and marrow, referring to the spinal cord, and the suffix –it is, meaning inflammation. Poliomyelitis, shortened, became polio. For a time, polio was called infantile paralysis, though it did not affect only the young.

 

It is caused by one of three types of poliovirus (which are members of the Enterovirus genus). These viruses spread through contact between people, by nasal and oral secretions, and by contact with contaminated feces. Poliovirus enters the body through the mouth, multiplying along the way to the digestive tract, where it further multiplies. In about 98 per cent of cases, polio is a mild illness, with no symptoms or with viral-like symptoms.

 

In paralytic polio, the virus leaves the digestive tract, enters the bloodstream, and then attacks nerve cells. Less than one per cent of people who contract polio become paralyzed. In severe cases, the throat and chest may be paralyzed. Death may result if  the patient does not receive artificial breathing support.

 

It is likely that polio has plagued humans for thousands of years. An Egyptian carving from around 1400 BCE depicts a young man with a leg deformity similar to one caused by polio. It circulated in human populations at low levels and appeared to be a relatively uncommon disease for most of the 1800s. It reached epidemic proportions in the early 1900s in countries with relatively high standards of living, at a time when other diseases such as diphtheria, typhoid, and tuberculosis were declining. Indeed, many scientists think that advances in hygiene paradoxically led to an increased incidence of polio.

 

The theory is that in the past, infants were exposed to polio, mainly through contaminated water supplies, at a very young age. Infants’ immune systems, aided by maternal antibodies still circulating in their blood, could quickly defeat poliovirus and then develop lasting immunity to it.

 

However, better sanitary conditions meant that exposure to polio was delayed until later in life, on the average, when a child had lost maternal protection and was also more vulnerable to the most severe form of the disease. Because of widespread vaccination, polio was eliminated from the Western Hemisphere in 1994.

 

In 2016, it continues to circulate in just Afghanistan and Pakistan, with occasional spread to neighbouring countries. Vigorous vaccination programmes are being conducted to eliminate these last pockets. Little wonder the vaccination is still recommended worldwide because of the risk of imported cases. In some countries, especially in the United States, children are recommended to receive the inactivated polio vaccine at two months and four months of age, and then twice more before entering elementary school. One strain of polio was eradicated in the wild in 1999.

 

But a few cases have been popping up because of an old vaccine. However, the world is close to eradicating the disease because of the oral vaccine. But the oral vaccine came with a small risk: causing new cases of the disease. But the global push to immunize children against polio has been an incredible success, reducing polio cases by 99.9 per cent.

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Minna floods: Cholera outbreak fears rise, as displaced persons sleep in worship centres

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Minna floods: Cholera outbreak fears rise, as displaced persons sleep in worship centres

Gov Sani Bello begs FG to rescue Niger

 

 

Exactly 11 months after the incessant floods affected 22 out of the 25 local government areas in Niger State leaving 40 persons dead and several thousands homeless, more danger looms in Minna the state capital as residents now take refuge in worship centres following another round of flooding. In this report, DANIEL ATORI writes about the flash flood that happened recently in Bosso and Chanchaga local government areas of the state leaving hundreds rendered homeless

 

 

In Minna, a recent flash flood claimed three lives leaving over 500 people displaced after washing away and submerging over 20 houses, destroyed other buildings including shops and farms in Bosso Estate, Dutsen Kura Hausa and Gwari, Rafin-Yashi, Shanu, Kpakungu and Fadipe.

The flood, which started at about 4am on Saturday, was speculated to have been triggered as a result of the release of waters from the Bosso and Tagwai Dams in Minna by the Niger State Water Board (NSWB) while residents were still asleep.

While some persons claimed it was the force from the dam that washed away their houses, other residents said it was the early morning rain that was responsible for the flooding which overflowed them thereby collapsing the MYPA Bridge in Bosso, the Shanu Bridge and washing away the Mola Bridge in Dutsen Kura Hausa.

It should be recalled that 40 deaths were recorded in September last year when flood affected 22 out of the 25 local government areas in the state

In Gundu and Manta communities of Shiroro Local Government Area, in 2018, a lot of houses were washed away by the flood and two women delivered of their babies at the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camp in Shiroro.

With the recent flash flood, the Niger State Emergency Management Agency (NSEMA) has raised worries that there could be an outbreak of cholera as the waters are now contaminated.

This was as displaced victims of last Saturday’s flood in Minna, the Niger State capital have vowed to take their mats to front of Government House as their new abode if alternative shelters are not provided for them.

Speaking exclusively to the Sunday Telegraph on phone, the Director General, NSEMA, Ibrahim Inga said the Agency has taken proactive steps to forestall any outbreak by boosting health facilities around affected areas.

According to Inga: “There are many issues that can arise from such incidents, we are likely to have health challenges especially when affected people are from different locations and backgrounds.

“There may be outbreak of cholera and other diseases, because the waters are contaminated. But at the moment we are going to boost all the health facilities around these areas with enough medications, so that in case we have any outbreak we can quickly bring it under control.”

But expressing their dissatisfaction over government’s unfulfilled promises, the victims of the flood told our Correspondent that they slept in churches, mosques, friends and relatives houses.

They told the Sunday Telegraph that the state’s Acting Governor Ahmed Ketso and NSEMA had on the day the incident occurred promised to bring succour their way.

According to one of the residents in Shanu village of Bosso Local Government Area, Hadiza Rabiu: “I slept in the mosque with my children and there was serious cold. I don’t have anything left with me, the N40,000 I kept in the house, food stuffs and personal effects were lost to the flood because I was trying to save my children’s lives.

“The eldest of my children is 5, the next is 3 and this little girl on my back is less than a year old. We don’t have where to take our bath or ease ourselves. Mosquitoes are biting us.”

Speaking further she that, they were fast asleep when the flood came, saying: “I started calling for help and to save my children. The flood started very early in the morning while people were still sleeping. I lost everything, our house collapsed and everything we had including over N40, 000 have been washed away. Please, Government should come to our aid.”

Another affected resident, Zubairu Abdullahi, who lost his livestock and farm produces, said his entire house was destroyed and washed away by the flood.

According to him: “We thought when the Deputy Governor, Ketso visited by now they would have alleviated our sufferings to an extent by giving us an alternative place to stay because they assured us of urgent support.

“I slept in the mosque with my family including my brothers who also live with me before the flood. If by today we sleep in the mosques and churches, by Monday we are all going to the front of Government House to sleep.

“We voted them to support us, protect us and do these things that are beyond us as individuals. How can the state government visit us, they came with NSEMA and up till this moment there is no sign of assistance. We have concluded that those of us in Dutsen Kura Hausa, MYPA road and even Shanu village, we will march to Government House on Monday.”

Engr. Mohammed Bello, a businessman told our Correspondent that he lost livestock worth about N5million to the flood waters.

He advised the government to be sincere with the people by working on the drainages in phases because of the lean allocation; successive governments have come, they made promises and left without doing anything

“I lost about 500 chickens which are already in the economic stage and are laying about seven crates of eggs on a daily basis. All the goats and sheep were carried away but we were able to rescue a few cows,” he lamented.

A Good Samaritan and neighbour to some of the affected victims, Hajia Anisat Bello said, she currently harbours three of her former neighbours.

Accordingly, she said: “They now live with me, no mattresses, nothing for them because the flood took everything. My house is not big but we are all managing. Some people now sleep in the mosques.”

The Ward Head (Mai Angwan) of Adamawa Road not too far from the Government House, Alhaji Inuwa Bawa Tokura lamented government’s nonchalant approach at addressing the incessant flooding that has affected the areas.

According to him: “I have witnessed four floods now; the only solution for this flooding is the construction of a proper drainage system from the Federal University of Technology, FUT, Bosso, Minna down to Minna-Bida road.”

Speaking on the need to alleviate the sufferings of the people, the NSEMA boss, Inga said: “Putting up an IDP camp is capital intensive; the thing is that, where in Minna are we going to put it and how many people can we accommodate.

“These places are scattered, it is not like a single village where we can just move all of them to a particular location. If we say we are bringing those from Anya Gwari, MYPA in Okada road, Shanu village, Kpakungu, Fadipe and the whole of Dutsen Kura, how do we cope?

“And the moment we say we are establishing an IDP camp even those who have places to lay their heads will come out and prefer the camp. We can only support those who have needs for foodstuffs and beddings pending when we will come up with our final recommendations that we will present to the government. Otherwise, if we are not careful there could be some crisis we may not be able to handle”.

The Director General, said government is already taking proactive measures and that the Agency has been mandated to take inventory of everything.

Accordingly, he said: “We are still taking inventories; we need to ascertain the number of houses affected and the level of damages; we need to have a confirmed figure of losses and then we will start supporting them with relief materials.”

He added: “What happened in Minna was a flash flood and in a few hours the water goes away. We are doing a detailed and full assessment to get the names of affected persons and the level of damages.

“It is only when the water remains for a longer time and it has not gone off that we can start talking of alternative shelter. Government will only give succour and cannot build house for anyone.

“However, the government can only look for a temporary site, either a school or a public building for those whose houses collapsed to stay pending when they can get back on.”

But in a swift response, the Niger State Deputy Governor, Muhammad Ahmed Ketso who was on an on-the-spot assessment of the affected areas, directed the State Emergency Management Agency (NSEMA) to immediately take inventory of losses and provide relief materials comprising of food and non-food items to cushion victims’ hardship.

He further called on the Federal Government and relevant bodies to come and assist the state in addressing the unending disaster caused by flood annually.

Speaking on behalf of the Dutsen Kura Hau

sa victims, Sanusi Mohammed, a businessman said: “Three persons have been carried away and must have died by now.”

Another victim, who also counted his losses, Zubairu Abdullahi, disclosed that his animals and fish pond have been wiped away and his entire house destroyed by the water.

According to him, the flood came from drainage which overflowed as a result of the midnight rain, my goats, chickens and thousands of eggs have all been carried away.

Also, the Head of Shanu village, Ibrahim Musa told our Correspondent that: “When the rain started in the early hours of Saturday, I was happy and thanking God that it was going to be a rain of blessing because of our farms, unknowingly to me it was going to wreak havoc. We have lost our farm produces and houses. This is tragic to us.”

Speaking on the immediate shelter needs of the displaced people, the NSEMA DG said over 70% of the affected victims built on waterways but that after taking inventory, the government will make necessary provision for their temporary accommodation.

Also, the Niger State Water Board debunked speculation that the flood experienced on Saturday morning was as a result of water released from the Bosso and Tagwai dams.

The Board, led by its General Manager, Engr. Hassan Muhammad Chado, which went on an on-the-spot visit to the dams to ascertain the authenticity of the speculations, told our Correspondent that: “Contrary to the rumours, the Water Board did not release water from the two said dams, water only spilled Sunday night to divert excess water down stream and not to communities.

“The Bosso Dam is stable, the Board did not open any valve and so it is at its normal working capacity.”

He further said the situation was the same at the Tagwai Dam which was inspected to be on its normal and functional capacity with its spill way serving effectively as a safety structure.

The General Manager, however, said the Rafin-Yashi Dam built by the Upper Niger River Basin Development Authority requires a flood control system but added that there is no cause for alarm.

While on a sympathetic visit, Governor Abubakar Sani Bello challenged the people to embrace attitudinal change as a panacea to the perennial flooding experienced across the state.

Governor Sani Bello while interacting with flood victims explained that significant attitudinal change will facilitate effective environmental management, adding that indiscriminate dumping of refuse and building along waterways will not do anyone good.

“We need Federal Government’s support in finding a lasting solution to environmental challenges confronting the state due to excessive rains and both surface and underground water crisscrossing the state. The Federal Government needs to come to our aid especially in the construction of more drainage systems in the state.

“My administration will continue to do our best to cushion the effect of flooding. We need to embark on serious sensitization. We must stop blaming God for every flood incident. We should blame ourselves.”

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