When CEE- HOPE sensitises Lagos communities on dangers of FGM

By sdnonline

As part of the efforts to bring to fore the dangers of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), Centre for Children’s Health Education, Orientation and Protection (CEE-HOPE) has urged Lagos communities to refrain from encouraging the undesirable cultural practice. This was the hallmark of seminar organised to mark the 2023 International Day of Zero Tolerance for female genital mutilation.

The seminar, which held at the International Press Centre Conference room in Ogba had participants drawn from various Lagos communities, including, Monkey Village, Makoko among others

In her welcome remarks, the Executive Director, CEE-HOPE, Betty Abah noted that in many parts of Nigeria, and other African countries, there is a culture of Female Genital Mutilation otherwise known as female circumcision.

She noted that it is human right violation that should not be encourage.
According to her:
“Why it is even more dangerous is that so many girls every year die in the process because when they cut the clitoris, some of them bleed to death and even these traditional women may use only one razor for over a hundred girls and thereby infect them. That is why the United Nations set aside the day to sensitise people against the act.”

Abah advised those present at the seminar to take the message against female genital mutilation to their various communities and also report anyone caught in the act.

Addressing the participants, Executive Director, Women’s Rights and Health Project (WRAHP), Bose Ironsi, bemoaned that Nigeria is still ranking very high in terms of prevalence of female genital mutilation.

She said that the day is celebrated globally to create awareness and sensitise the general public when it comes to the issue of female genital mutilation.

“Nigeria is still ranking very high in terms of prevalence of female genital mutilation, a lot has also been done because there are a lot of people that are no longer practicing it, but some of them have gone underground, because there is a law passed by the Federal Government. What you find out is that a lot of people are not doing it openly; they have now decided to go underground. There are a lot of sensitisation, a lot of changing the mindset as to why they are doing it.

“If you really look at why they are doing it, there is no medical reason to why they are doing it, but they are doing it because of cultural reasons. And it is against the rights of the female,” she said.

She explained that with the sensitisation, they are trying to change the mindset of people practicing it, noting that one of the main reasons for female genital mutilation is because they do not want the lady to be promiscuous.

“Circumcision has no bearing on virginity, and it even causes more harm. It has no medical reason, rather it brings a lot of pain, depression, even death. Some of them are having mental issues, some of them have bled to death, some of them are having issues with even allowing men to touch them.

“Men need to be engaged, let them be the one that will advocate that they will rather want to marry a woman that is not circumcised than marry a woman that is circumcised. If the men are saying this, then, there will be no problem,” she charged.

Some of the female participants who had been circumcised shared their gory experiences at the seminar, stating that they would not allow their girl child to go through the painful experience.

U.S extends tourist visa validity for Nigerians to five years

By sdnonline

Effective March 1, 2023, the U.S. Mission will increase visitor visa validity from 24 months to 60 months for Nigerians who want to enter the United States temporarily for business and/or tourism.

The visa validity extension allows Nigerians to use the visa for 60 months to make short trips to the United States for tourism or business purposes before having to renew their visa. The visa application fee, currently USD160, will not increase as a result of the increased visa validity.

“Increasing visa validity is one of several initiatives taken by the United States to reduce visa appointment wait times in Nigeria. The U.S. Mission continues to offer No-Interview Visa Renewals to those who meet the eligibility criteria. Appointments for No-Interview Visa Renewals are readily available,” the U.S Mission said in a press statement.

No-Interview Visa Renewal

You may be eligible for a visa renewal without an interview if your application is for a B1/B2, F, M, J (academic only), H, L, or C1/D (combined only) visa, And you meet each of the following criteria:

You are physically present in Nigeria.
Your previous visa was issued in Nigeria.
Your previous visa is in the same classification as your current application.
Your previous visa was a full-validity, multiple-entry visa.
Your previous visa expired within the last 48 months or will expire in the next three months from the date of application.
You have all your passports covering the entire period since receiving the previous visa and the passport with the most recent visa.
You have never been arrested or convicted of any crime or offense in the United States, even if you later received a waiver or pardon.
You have never worked without authorization or remained beyond your permitted time in the United States.

The U.S mission informed that processing times for the programme are expected to be up to two months and you will not be able to retrieve your passport during that time.

Each applicant must individually meet the criteria; minors can apply without an interview only if they meet the eligibility criteria on their own.

Emergency Appointments

If you have a life-or-death emergency, you may request an expedited, in-person interview; however, to accommodate No-Interview Visa Renewals, appointments will be very limited.

Business travel, conferences, weddings, and graduations are not considered emergencies. If you have an emergency and need to travel immediately, please follow the guidance.

Similarly, third parties unaffiliated with U.S. Embassy Abuja and Consulate General Lagos may seek to take advantage of various visa services to target visa applicants with fraudulent offers or claims.

Applicants should fill out their own forms and make their appointments themselves via the official websites.

As future opportunities for Interview Waiver appointments become available, they will be communicated via our website.

2023 elections: Enthusiasm, pitfall trail voting as Nigerians cast their votes

By our reporters

Nigerians on Saturday, February 25, 2023 performed their civic right by casting their votes for their preferred presidential, senatorial and House of Representatives candidates.

When SDNONLINE moved round, there were security operatives around polling units to protect voters and officers of the electoral body. Roads that are prone to traffic were free and easy to ply due to restriction of movement of people and vehicles. Markets, shops, offices were under lock and key for people to vote their preferred candidates.

It was a mixed experience across the States as Nigerians went out to vote for their choice candidates. While some areas experienced high turn out, some were low. In some areas, INEC officials did not arrive on time and some had to start voting around 11am and 12pm.

In Lagos state, some areas recorded high turn out of voters. For example, the vote which was supposed to start at 8.30am with accreditation of voters did not start at exact time in some polling units. In some places, voting did not start until 10am while in some 11am.and 12pm respectively. However, in few places like Lekki, Polling unit 071, voters could not exercise their franchise due to absence of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officers.
As expected, police were seen at the polling units to provide protection to both INEC officers and voters. There were police vans as well as military vans patrolling the environment to forestall any violence.

However, unlike before when youths would turn the roads to football pitch, there was nothing like that as most youths were seen across the polling centres to vote. In some areas, even the sick were seen being aided to the polling units to cast their votes. However, in Lekki, some voters were unable to vote as a result of absence of INEC officers to administer voting materials.

“We have done our best, we leave the rest for God to touch the heart of our leaders,” said a voter who claimed anonymous.

In Ogun state, electorate also came out to cast their votes. Some areas also witnessed late arrival of INEC officers.
At Oba T.T. Dada, Ota Market, INEC officers arrived at 10.50am while electorate were already waiting. At Open field polling unit, opposite Canaanland, voters turned out enmass to cast their votes. Generally, the voting was peaceful.

A voter said, “I just finished voting at Liberty Estate gate, magboro, very orderly and peaceful.”
Observation showed that preferences were given to elderly and pregnant people.

In Cross River, voters were seen carrying out their civic right. However, INEC officers were late in some areas and there was allegation of vote buying in some areas as well.
There was high turn out at the four polling units at Satellite Town while at Abong Aseng polling booth, voters were yet to vote as at 12.30pm. At Etta-Agbor, Batabe/Amika Odu layout and Etonko polling units, people cast their votes without any problem.

At Atu by Golden Round About, Atu Secondary School, Atu by Nelson Mandela, Lutheran Primary School, Atu, there were no problems.

However at Atu by Academy, there was slow administration of voting materials as many were yet to vote as at 12.30pm.

“I got to the polling unit at 8am and did not vote until 11am. As at 12.30pm, about 800 people are yet to vote,” said a voter.
At Palm Street, INEC officers started attending to electorate at 11am.

In Bayelsa State, some polling units also experienced late arrival of INEC officers.
While casting his vote, Former President Goodluck Jonathan expressing his views on the conduct of the election said, “INEC should improve on distribution of election materials.”

2023Elections: We strongly support peaceful, transparent process in Nigeria – Joe Biden

United States President, Joe Biden has thrown his weight to a peaceful and transparent general elections in Nigeria.

Speaking after the presidential candidates signed peace accord on Tuesday, February 22, 2023 towards peaceful election, President Biden said, “I commend yesterday’s peace accord in Nigeria, signed by the political parties and candidates running in Nigeria’s presidential election on February 25. By signing this pledge, the parties and candidates have committed to accept the results of the election, as announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission, and to support a peaceful transition of power.

He declared that elections are a fundamental part of a functioning democracy, and all Nigerians deserve this chance to choose their future — freely and fairly. “While the United States does not support any single candidate or party, we strongly support a peaceful and transparent process that reflects the will of the people of Nigeria.

On election day, I encourage all Nigerians — no matter their religion, region, or ethnicity —to exercise this fundamental freedom and make their voices heard — including young voters, many of whom may be heading to the ballot box for the first time,,” he said.

He stated that the United States stands with the Nigerian people as they chart a path toward a more democratic, prosperous, and secure future. “I appreciate President Buhari’s firm commitment that the will of the people will be respected. And in the coming days, I encourage voters to remain peaceful and patient as their ballots are tallied, and urge the political parties and candidates to live up to their pledge.”