Media, CSOs partner to report abandoned corruption cases

– By Funmi Falobi –

As Nigeria intensifies the fight against corruption, a select of media professionals and civil Society Organizations (CSO) across Nigeria are partnering to bring to limelight, abandoned and hibernating high profile corruption cases under an initiative entitled,   “Reporting Until Something Happens (RUSH)”.  The  initiative which recently commenced with a 3-day CSO/Media case tracking and judicial performance oversight workshop in Enugu aims to increase reporting on hibernating high profile corruption cases  in order to engender public demand for speedy completion and as well get the government to prioritizing the cases in its anti-corruption agenda.

Speaking at the workshop organized by the Department for International Development (DFID) and supported by the British Council,  Emmanuel Uche, Anti Corruption Programme Manager, Justice for All (J4A) said that since the inception of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), only eight high profile cases have so far been convicted, adding that out of the eight,  one was upturned by the court making it only seven convicted, thus there is the is need to bring to the front burner these cases that are either hibernating or gone to sleep in the country.

“Most of the cases with the EFCC are either been stopped, hibernated or swept under the carpet. This can only be so on sheer impunity”, he said. He noted that there is need to empower the media and civil society organizations to take up high profile corruption cases as well as for the judiciary to be up and doing.emmanuel

“For the anti- corruption campaign to be successful, the judiciary must demonstrate independence, impartiality, integrity, accountability and transparency to sustain the rule of law.

“Judiciary is arbiter of not only democracy but political, social and economic development. Nobody will come to the economy where there is no rule of law, respect for rights. For there to be government of the people, by the people and for the people, there must be a rule of law in place, if not, forget political development”, he added.

According to him: “Judicial systems need to provide timely access to fair and impartial judicial services and uphold the rule of law consistently.”

emekaSimilarly, Emeka Ononamadu, Executive Director, Citizens Center for Integrated Development and Social Rights (CCIDESOR) called for synergy between the media and the CSO in the fight against corruption in the nation.

walterAlso speaking, Dr. Walter Duru, Executive Director, Media Initiative against Injustice, Violence and Corruption (MIIVOC) urged the media to sustain reportage of corruption and humanize effect of corruption in the society in order to engage citizens in the fight against corruption.

 

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Education grant: 20 students get Gani Fawehinmi scholarship

– By Tobi Oyetunde –

It was pleasant moments for 20 Students across Nigeria universities who received the 2016 Annual Gani Fawehinmi Scholarship.

The lucky students who receive the 2016 awards of a cash prize of 100,000 naira each include: Ajewole Thomas Adeyemi (University of Ibadan), Akinsanya Damilola John (University of Ibadan), Akorede Adelupe IIiyas (University of Lagos), Ariyibi Ahmod Babatunde (Bayero University, Kano), Ashiru Fatai Aderoju (Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta), Ephraim Jeremiah (Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi). Others are Eyam Rita Esighetti (University of Calabar), Folorunsho Abidemi Bashiru (Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta), Goji Joy (Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria), Kalu Kinsley Samuel (University of Calabar), Michael Faith Eloho (University of Calabar), Moshood Yusuf Lere (University of Ibadan), Okezie Nina Chidinma (Michael Okpara University), Okorie Uchechukwu Victor (University of Lagos), Olofinnika James Adewole (Obafemi Awolowo University).

The annual awards, which began in 1973, and has served as source of empowerment to over 800 students since inception was also used to celebrate and remember the legacy of Late Gani Fawehinmi. The event was celebrated with the theme, ‘Education in the Age of Neoliberalism: Local and External Contexts’.

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Speaking at the event, Mr. Oladipo Fashina, Chairman of the Gani Fawehinmi Scholarship awards Board reiterated that the principle of late Chief Gani Fawehinmi must not be forgotten. While addressing the university students present, Mr. Oladipo advised them to be sincere and put more energy into their education.

He said, “we must never forget the principle of Gani and what he lived for. We must follow his legacy in improving the education sector of the country in any capacity we can. Education is a right which must be exercised by all Nigerians with real equality of opportunity, such right must be to a free education, free education is capable is capable of ensuring political stability and every Nigeria youth must e educated so that he may be free to live a dignified and useful life.”

The guest speaker at the ceremony, Dr. Sylvester Odion Akhaine, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Political Science, Lagos State University lamented how policy made by government is killing education and encourage everybody to fight for their right.

“The fact that politicians now showcase red roofs in primary and secondary schools is an indication of the decay in that sector during the adjustment years. The short of it is that the structural advancement policy has endangered unprecedented levels of peonage in Nigeria’s history, economic underdevelopment”, he noted.

He concluded by saying, “we must rescue the educational sector from its present paralysis, free it from policy summersault, underfunding and the spasm of massification underlined by the illusion of choice and banking approach based on memorization.”

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Towards 2019: Stakeholders task Buhari on credible elections

– By ‘SANMI FALOBI-

Against the backdrop of the old adage that, ‘he who fails to plan, plans to fail’, stakeholders have tasked the Buhari administration to show more commitments in consolidating the gains of the 2015 elections by ensuring that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is properly constituted and given the enabling operational requisites to be able to conduct credible elections, especially ahead the 2019 general elections.

According to the stakeholders, beyond the present administration’s overt commitment to fighting corruption, the administration should also be equally committed to ensuring that the democratic processes are transparent and credible, in order to entrench the gains on the credibility and transparency demonstrated by INEC in the 2015 elections.

Sharing perspectives as panelists in a national town hall meeting in Abuja, civil society stakeholders, opinion leaders and other key electoral stakeholders were of the opinion that more needs to be done if INEC is to be able to deliver credible elections come 2019.

In her opening remarks, Ojobo Atuluku, the Country Director of Actionaid, organizers of the event, said the town hall meeting which was also used to publicly present the outcome of a 2015 post election survey report conducted by Actionaid under its Strengthening Citizens Engagement in Electoral Processes (SCEEP) project, was to create an opportunity to connect the people, citizen groups and policy makers to dissect issues to deepen the gains of the 2015 elections as well as on steps to conducting more credible elections in the future.

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Speaking on the central theme, ‘Making the electoral process citizens-centred: Deepening the gains of the 2015 elections’, former Chairman, National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, Chidi Odinkalu, said that elections may not hold in 2019 as there may be crisis and death if there are no adequate preparations to ensure that the elections are credible.

Today, the executive has gone into lax mode; judiciary has become lawless; National Assembly is lacking in credibility; INEC is troubled; politicians have gone unruly. Government says it has no money to run the economy. Every element that made 2015 is currently missing,” he said.

According to him, it was worrisome that key portfolios of personnel and designations in INEC have been left vacant.  “There is absolutely no reason why the executive should allow the number of vacancies we have in INEC to be.”

“INEC is having a challenge. By next month, INEC will be having 28 vacancies among its RECs (Resident Electoral Commissioners) and seven commissioners. The Executive is carrying on as if this normal. It isn’t”, he added.

According to him, “continuing the way we are going, we will not be able to have elections in 2019. If it happens, there would be too many broken heads and dead people.”

In a related contribution, Clement Nwankwo, Executive Director, Policy and Legal Advocacy Center (PLAC) and Convener, Civil Society Situation room noted that all hands must be on deck to build on the gains of the successes of the 2015 elections. According to him, the civil society must continue to do the work they can to ensure that the democratic governance is deepened, adding that the country is presently in a national emergency as the  electoral body does not have the full complement of electoral commissioners needed for the  general elections.

Nigeria is in an emergency situation. In less than two and half years to the 2019 elections, INEC does not have the full complement of electoral commissioners. The question then is why is the delay? … If we continue this way, we shall lose our democracy. So we must act. If those in government do not act with urgency, we will lose this democracy“, he declared.

Similarly, other perspectives were given by stakeholders which included representatives of other civil society groups, namely; Ekaette Umoh, National President, Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD) Abiodun Ajijola of Election Monitor, Ezenwa Nwangwu of Partners for Electoral Reform and Samson Itodo, Head Research Policy and Advocacy, YIAGA, who spoke as an advocate of the #NotTooYoungToRun campaign.

While calling for collaboration of all stakeholders, Amina Zakari, INEC National Commissioner in charge of election operations, noted that the attaining credible elections involves all.

In 2015, for the first time, Nigerians believed they could effect a change in our political system. There was also dedication in the part of INEC, Security agencies and civil societies who spoke in one voice”, she said.

Democracy and elections is for all and by all; everyone, not just INEC or politicians”, she added.

In the same light, the Chair, Senate Committee on INEC, Abubakar Kyari who agreed that democracy was about the people told the gathering that the Senate was working to ensure that the electoral laws are amended to ensure credible elections.

We have sought for suggestions from the general public in order to fashion out an amendment in the electoral system. Our plan is to get our electoral reforms ready before December and have the president sign it into law”, he said.

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