It was a moment of solemnity amidst deluge of outpouring, day indigenes, friends and well-wishers of Arochukwu and the entire kingdom bid farewell to late Eze Ogbonnaya Okoro popularly known as Eze Aro.At the final burial rites on Monday, April 5, 2021, both the young and old were at their best in display as the remains of Eze Aro were eventually interred.One by one, the indigenes of Arochukwu in Arochukwu local government area of Abia state took turns to eulogise the lives and times of the departed first class Traditional Ruler.The Chairman, Aro National Rites of Passage Committee, Prof. Okoro Ijeoma, described the deceased king as highly talented, educated, relaxed and very respectful.He said the late traditional ruler sacrificed a lot for the peace of his community.Prof. Okoro used the occasion to draw the attention of the federal government on the deplorable state of Arochukwu/Ohafia highway.He said the completion of the road would be the best way to immortalise the highly respected late Monarch.”We have had a road which is in despair and it was one of those agonies that faced him when he was alive and we want a lasting legacy for the road to be fixed to honour him, because that is how we can grow economically and socially,” he said.Also speaking, a two-time governorship candidate of All Progressives Grand Alliance now one of the top APC leaders in Abia state Dr Alex Otti who chaired the burial event commended the chairman of the National Committee on the burial rites of passage and committees for working so hard to organise a befitting burial for the Aro monarch. He also thanked Aro sons and daughters both at home and in the diaspora for their huge financial contributions to the burial and encouraged them to maintain the spirit of unity engendered by the event.”He remarked that the entire Aro people are consoled by the legacies the late Eze Aro left behind. Dr. Otti then prayed to God to show him mercy and grant his soul eternal rest, while calling on the immediate family of the deceased and the entire Aro kingdom to bear the loss with fortitudeConvener of the New Nigeria Group, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, said the late Eze Aro loved his community and Nigeria at large.He said, “Late Mazi Ogbonnaya Okoro, preached peace and collective responsibility towards the development of his community while on the throne. Each time we visited him, he will tell us that the crown he was wearing was also on our heads, therefore we must work hard to protect it.”He wanted all of us to be involved in seeking the peace, progress and development of the Arochukwu Kingdom.“He never demanded anything from anyone, he was content with what he had. He was an extraordinary king, one would have expected him to be more demanding but he wasn’t.Born on Monday, March 6, 1932, Mazi Ogbonnaya Okoro, he ascended the famous Eze Aro throne in 1995 and his reign witnessed tremendous transformation of the kingdom and growth in inter-communal relations.Among other positions, Eze Ogbonnaya Okoro, was a first-class traditional ruler and occupied one of the ancient traditional stools in Nigeria and was the custodian of the Aro heritage worldwide.He passed on after a protracted illness.
By Ikechukwu Odu
The 119 villages in the nine autonomous communities in Nsukka town, Nsukka Local Government Area of Enugu State, Wednesday, formalised the eradication of Osu Caste system in their communities.
The decision which was taken by the monarchs, town unions and other traditional institutions in the communities in collaboration with the Initiative for the Eradication of Traditional and Cultural Stigmatization in our Society, IFETACSIOS, was capped up with an interdenominational prayer session cum declarations and ‘Isu Oho’ by the chief priests and ‘Akpuraruas’ from the three quarters which make up Nsukka town.
Speaking during the interdenominational prayer session at the St. John’s Primary School, Ugwuorie, Nsukka, the Catholic bishop of Nsukka Diocese, Most Rev. Godffrey Onah, condemned the reprehensive traditional practice.
Quoting Galatians 3:28, the clergy explained that there was no need for discriminatory practices amongst people created by God.
The bishop who was represented by the Cathedral Administrator, Rev Fr. Eugene Odo, also said “this is the first of its kind in Nsukka cultural zone. There cannot be development amidst strife and discrimination. The Osu caste system needs to be eradicted to enable all memebers of the society contribute their quota in moving the communities forward because we cannot make progress when we discriminate against ourselves,” the cleric said.
He also called for other communities within the Nsukka cultural zone to emulate Nsukka town by initiating steps towards ending harmful cultural practices that are anti people.
Speaking to journalists during the event, the President General of Nsukka Town Union, Chief Joseph Onyeke, while commending the nine autonomous communities in Nsukka town for the landmark achievement, said “By history, we cannot forget the efforts of our noble men and women like William Wilberforce, Mary Slessor who, about 200 years ago, volunteered their lives to make sure slave trade was abolished. Even though they achieved great height in securing legal freedom for the enslaved, some deprivations remained in practice till this day.
“In practice, discriminations have continued even in this part of the continent. They include denials of intermarriage, title-taking_Oha and Umuada, placement of Oho and Oduatu together and ascending to the height of ‘Onyeishi Aruah among others. The consequences of the above were restiveness and underdevelopment in all sectors of life.
“In Nsukka town, the crises of 1946-1955 regarding the discrimination practices worsened the matter, and ever since then, the problems were managed and never solved,” he said.
Also in his remarks, the traditional ruler of Ihe Nsukka Autonomous Community, HRH, Igwe George Asadu said , that Osu was a creation of humans and not God.
“The segregation lives here on earth and not in heaven. Even the Bible upholds all humans as equal before God,” he said.
He also said that with the eradication of Osu caste system, there would be hitch free intermarriage and equal economic rights which hitherto were not the case before now.
His counterpart of Owerre Nsukka Autonomous Community, HRH, Igwe Emeka Ugwu, said he was happy over the development, adding that he was the first monarch in Nsukka cultural zone to initiate the move towards the abolishment of the discriminatory practices.
In his contribution, the Visioner and Coordinator of IFETACSIOS, Nwada Stella Ogechukwu, while expressing her joy over the abolishment of the practice said “I take full cognizance of other communities that have abolished the caste system, but I call the Nsukka people the pace setters because you came together in strength, might and love to jettison the evil practice.
“I know the kind of efforts that go into achieving such a milestone. Your actions towards achieving this feat are commendable and worthy of emulation,” she said.
Earlier in his address, the chairman of the committee on Total Eradication of Discrimination between Ohu and Amu in Nsukka Town, Barr Peter Odo, described the development as a new dawn in the communities.
“After elaborate deliberations, it was unanimously agreed that the discriminatory practices between ‘Osu and Amu’ be totally eradicated and eliminated,” he announced.
He said that the committee set up to effect the abolishment came up with three solutions of “appeasement, compensation and reparation, adding that those who felt wronged and those whose forefathers may have also wronged others have fully forgiven one another.
Since about 35 years of a troubled existence as a former Wildlife Sanctuary and now Okomu National Park (ONP), the inestimable conservation enclave hadn’t suffered deadly violations as had been unleashed on it by the Okomu Oil Palm Company PLC (OkomuOil for short), under over two decades of tenacious stay by Dr. Graham Hefer as its Managing Director.
Surely, conservationists and villagers of the host communities of ONP, OkomuOil and others would readily be flabbergasted that Hefer, a South African immigrant to Nigeria, had supervised the extensive plundering of ONP by OkomuOil, a gigantic multinational plantation firm and Nigerian franchise of Socfin, the Octopus agro-allied conglomerate which was originated in faraway Belgium and Luxembourg in Europe.
Indeed, the plundering by the Hefer’s OkomuOil had encouraged the selfsame loggers and poachers, who Hefer, recently turned around to condemn as the real violators of the park.
Through choreographed and monotonous insertions of a news item that competed for choice spaces in the Nigerian media, Hefer, in a rather sanctimonious overcook attempted to misinform the public and whitewash his company. Titled “Another Lucky Elephant Rescued For National Park By Okomu Oil Palm PLC”, it added a sub-title, “…MD calls on Govt. to rescue Park and forest reserve from illegal loggers, total lack of law”.
Hefer was said to have “led a team of his staff to rescue a second elephant on behalf of the Okomu National Park, the first being in October 3, 2019”. He also appealed to “the Nigerian Government and other relevant authorities to rescue the Park and forest reserves from illegal loggers and others who have cultivated the habit of desecrating the natural habitat”.
ONP is a globally acclaimed conservation centre and valuable ecotourism destination, managed by the National Park Service (NPS), a Federal Government’s agency.
ONP is the last vestige of a (“protected”?) lowland rainforest habitat; the smallest in size amongst the old seven national parks, until recently when more of the parks were created. The park 200 sq. km by size and is situated at Okomu-Udo, in Ovia South West Local Government Area of Edo State, on about 50 minutes road distance from Benin City, the state capital. It is very rich in biodiversity and other attractions, with the said endangered African Lowland Rainforest Elephant (Loxodonta Africanna cyclotis), as one of its unique fauna flagships.
The wakeup call by Hefer though suitable, appeared lacking, coming from OkomuOil, a conservation-unfriendly business concern and a boss, who professes to love ONP and nature conservation principles, but soon reverses to do the opposite. Once beaten twice shy. If after confessing to conservation niceties and the overriding need of protecting the park in the past, OkomuOil sooner go ahead to plunder the same, what is the exactness to trusting the latest display of fickle love by its boss?
Firstly, it was outright falsehood that the multinational company “saved a distressed Elephant for the park on October 3, 2019”. Instead and evidently, OkomuOil was serially condemned by a preponderant public and a key civil society group, the Coalition Against Landgrabbing and Deforestation (CALD), after a thorough investigation that workers of the company did attacked with cutlasses and cudgels, the said Elephant, which strayed into its newest plantations, the original home and wandering range and buffers of the park, which the company had grabbed and converted into oil palm plantation. This led to the death of the Elephant at the park’s quarantine, where it received medication. (“Okomu National Park’s Elephant” ThisDay: December 7, 2019: 12/07/okomu-national-park-elephant/)
Dr. Heifer as the boss, brought about the ‘casual workers’ rule, where thousands of OkomuOil’s workforce, especially the unskilled, are hazardously employed by contractors. They are un-gainfully employed, even without ‘pensions’ and willfully sacked, as against the labour laws. The army of sacked and new casual workers, who swell the population of the host communities, easily resort poaching in the park and illegal logging, where the company fails to train them to imbibe conservation principles and support the park.
Again, Dr. Hefer was off-point that the recent Elephant was trapped in the mud, inside the park, as he sought for praises over its exaggerated accounts of helping the park’s management to bring the bulldozers and other earth moving equipment to rescue the Elephant! Was the Elephant a mountain to be bulldozed? A photograph clip of the endangered Elephant would purely show that it wasn’t stuck in a pit in the park, but one bulldozed and not de-silted by OkomuOil, on the same land it had grabbed and turned into a new plantation. Instructively, there are no bulldozed pits in the park’s main land.
Revealingly, OkomuOil had been the most violator of the park and plunderer of the park and Edo forest reserves. For instance, a tiny stream is all that separates the park and the old oil palm plantation of the company (to the left from its main entrance), making the open to poaching by its workers.
If not grandstanding, how come that Hefer, who assisted the company to grab and convert over 16,000 hectares of the original designate land areas and buffers of the park, that it bought from the Iyayi Group of Companies, is the same accusing others of desecrating the park? If Hefer and his company want to be taken seriously for making genuine and redemptory outbursts, they should hand over to the park and the host communities of Okomu forest and the Owan forest zone the 13,750 hectares of lands, which Iyayi sold to it, wherein about 8,000 hectares of the land revoked by Sdo State Government, was from Okomu forest reserve. (See Edo State Government of Nigeria Gazette No. 16 Vol. 19 (page 48-50), published on 5th November, 2015)
Irrefutably, OkomuOil is the single largest driver of land-grabbing, deforestation and livelihood loss in Edo State, regarded as the highest incidence of the just-mentioned threesome scourges, amongst the 36 states of the Nigeria country. Of the total 1081 sq. km land area of the now depleted Okomu Forest Reserve, that was the largest rainforest reserve in Nigeria, OkomuOil alone had the rare benefit of having been ceded with vast land areas and the other vastness it had grabbed from it, in addition to the over 16,000 hectares of Iyayi’s grab.
Had the state government properly catalogued and protected Okomu and other forest reserve estates of the state, OkomuOil would not cash in on the loophole to grab and destroy Okomu and the threesome forest reserves of Ehor, Owan and Ora-Iueleha-Ozalla (sometimes called Owan Forest Zone), thereby causing acute deforestation and livelihood losses to the villagers, the land owners.
Which other forestry laws did Dr. Hefer want government to establish, when he exhibits daylight impunity, by his refusal to obey existing state and federal laws, with his company’s slipshod operations in Okomu locale and Owan forest zone, where it had forcibly established its so called Okomu PLC Oil Palm Extension II? And isn’t a sheer mockery of the Nigerian jurisprudence, which tended to prostrate to the whims and caprices of a foreigner, on Nigeria soil? Has Nigeria submitted her sovereignty to him?
Why did Okomu Oil often ridicule and ignore the Environmental Impact Assessment Law, especially by disobeying severally directives from the Federal Ministry of Environment, on two letters to Dr. Hefer, by the Environment Minister dated 8th January, 2014 (Ref: FMEnv/EA/ 2712/Vol.1/82 and the other dated 22nd December, 2015 (Ref: No FMEnv.123:271/Vol.1/28), that it must follow the due processes of acquiring the Owan forest lands? Is it not shameful that OkomuOil now parades the same EIA certification, even though it burgled the due process?
Yet, OkomuOil craves for lofty praises over its tokenistic or mere cosmetic activities, which it often amplifies as justifiable Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) offers to the park and host communities, despite excessive annual dividends from its huge investments in oil palm and rubber plantations, premised on the forest reserves, including the gigantic processing industry situated in Okomu forest.
Amusingly, Hefer, in the same media commentary flaunted the Roundtable Sustainable Palm (RSPO) certification as authorization to commit such heinous atrocities against the ONP treasure and poor Edo communities, in the same manner of the outlaw Apartheid of Dr. Hefer’s South Africa, where lands are still wrested from the local owners, by fastidious settlers.
Alas, the OkomuOil boss had also audaciously poked to our faces that a certain Billy Ghansah, a Ghanaian and Operational Director that goaded the grabbing of lands from the Owan Forest Zone, is the same who had also been recruited to obliterate the Okomu National Park, so that the company’s oil palm and rubber trees could take over the sacred land.
Those who destroy a global monument, like the priceless Okomu National Park, grab and terminate the people’s land heritage are destroyers of their pride and future.
Tony Erha, a journalist, conservationist and Forest Certifier of the International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO), writes from Benin City, Edo State.
I will start this short piece by running a recap of the recent #EndSARS protest in Port Harcourt chronologically.
#EndSARS organic protest started in Port Harcourt on Tuesday, 13 October, 2020, five days after it was staged in Lagos, Abuja and some parts of the country.
Protesters returned to the streets of Port Harcourt on Friday, 16 October for candlelight procession. On Saturday 17 October, prayer walk was held. The next and the last time #EndSARS protest was staged in Port Harcourt, was Tuesday 20 October. The same day Lekki shootings occurred.
These series of protests were 100 percent peaceful contrary to popular opinion on social media that Port Harcourt protest was going to be bloody.
Nnamdi Kanu made a broadcast to his IPOB followers that same Tuesday night, immediately after the Lekki shootings, telling them to burn down police stations, kill and maim those they believe are their enemies.
Getting to the next day, Wednesday 21 October, violence erupted in Oyigbo and parts of Port Harcourt, like Ikoku, Mile 1, Mile 2, Mile 3, et al during the protest staged by IPOB. Mind you, there was no #EndSARS protest in Port Harcourt that very day.
If a witch cries in the night and a child dies in the morning, we do not go to the soothsayer to ask what killed the child. Nnamdi Kanu should be blamed for this whole thing, but sadly, some people are not, rather they are shifting the blame to Governor Nyesom Wike who only did what any responsible chief security officer of a state would have done.
Following the killings and destruction of properties perpetrated by IPOB members foolishly acting on the orders of Nnamdi Kanu, who is enjoying their money in UK, Gov. Wike was left with no choice but to act on the already existing court order outlawing IPOB to arrest the situation.
Governor Nyesom Wike did not and will never order security agents to kill innocent residents of Rivers State. He only imposed curfew in Oyigbo to safeguard lives and properties from rampaging hoodlums who run a cell they use in perpetrating heinous crimes. There is a whole lot of propaganda and lies flying around, we should endeavour to verify any information before we fly with it.
The governor has directed the Executive Chairman of Oyigbo Local Government Area, Prince Gerald Oforji to compel security agents in the area to make sure the process of retrieving the rifles that were stolen during the raid on Oyigbo Police Station is devoid of human casualties and abuse of human rights.
The LG boss has also met with soldiers and police men carrying out the operation, they assured him that no innocent life would be taken. They said they are not after Igbos or any other tribe but criminals terrorising the area.
Lastly, we must all shun emotions and sentiments and summon the courage to condemn the destructive tendencies of Nnamdi Kanu, because if we don’t, he would cause big problem in this country for us while he is chilling in Europe. Let’s call a spade a spade.
It was a crispy Saturday morning on August 1. Lawrence Kemdi, a renowned geologist of Igbo extraction, hovered at the balcony of his exquisite mansion located along the prestigious Admiralty Way, Lekki Phase 1, Lagos.
At the center of the sizeable balcony, stood a beautifully carved wooden table and an armchair. Kemdi pulled the chair to a comfortable position and lowered his lanky frame into it’s soft leather. Just then, a neatly dressed steward walked in. Briskly, the steward displayed an array of stainless jug, coffey bottle, vessel bearing nondairy milk, honey jar, hot water flask and a set of tea cup before his master.
Leaning forward, Kemdi made for himself a cup of rich Coffey. Intermittently, he took a sip from the steaming cup while fresh morning breeze from the nearby Lagoon smacked his trim body. From that vintage position, Kemdi regarded the stream of traffic on Admiralty Way and exotic skyline of Lekki Phase 1. His calm mien betrayed his love for the adorable ambience and peace which his affluent neighborhood offers.
He had actually spent most of his productive years living in cities and sophisticated environments. Having spend over 23 years in America and Europe, he returned to Nigeria; and settled in Lagos to continue his rewarding career in multinational oil firm. In the next two years, Kemdi would have to take a compulsory plunged into retirement. All along, he had planned to spend the evening hours of his life in his home town and among his kinsmen. The thought of numerous challenges associated with going back to his remote village switched Kemdi’s pleasant countenance,
Why did his mood change? He said: “Once in a while, I had spent annual vacations in my home town. But as good as it is to unwind amongst my kinsmen and enjoy the comfort of my family mansion, I always felt that an essential part of me is missing. Everyday needs of life, which ordinarily are not far fetched in urban settings, are not easily accessible in typical Southern Eastern villages. There is also the issue of poor social amenities coupled with what I call local discomforts which includes home people or relations seeing a returnee as a threat.’ he added.
With a wave of hand, Kemdi picked up his cellphone from the Coffey table and dialed an estate agent’s number: “How much does a plot cost in that new estate -Lush City, Aba.” Moments later, he instructed the person at the other end of the line; “Send your account details, I am paying for two units right away.” That was how Kemdi’s long held dream of retiring to his village and to his people was jettisoned. Jungle Journalist Media Ltd investigation revealed that Easterners living in the diaspora and those who relocate back to their roots actually share the same frustrations.
According to Justin Okenwa, a human resources professional, “This has increasingly become the greatest challenge of many urbane Easterners, especially retirees and those who wish to relocate back to their roots for peculiar reasons. I definitely prefer to live in a nearby city when I retire, and visit my village to spend my weekends. It’s sure not good for me to start learning how to cope with challenges of life in a rural setting, in my old age. Not after several years of city life.”
“I have already bought a plot in Lush City Phase 2, Aba. It’s less than one hour’s drive to my home town; and I am glad I did. This does not in anyway diminish the fact that every Igboman holds ownership of a befitting family house in his place of birth closely to heart,” Okenwa explained. He finds a soulmate in Akpan Ekere, from Ikot Ubo, Akwa Ibom State. “One shouldn’t gamble with life in retirement. That’s why I desire to spend my retirement within an organised estate, Ekere said . He disclosed that had acquired a plot for his retirement comfort at Lush City Estate, Uyo. “Surely there’s no way I will miss the civilised life style I have grown used to,” Akpan explained.
Why exactly do Ibos and their south southern neighbours find going back to their villages and living among their kinsmen an uphill task? Property whizkid and Managing Director of PWAN Plus, owners of Lush City by Cedarwood, Julius Oyedemi, explained that until there is a paradigms shift in house ownership pattern, many Easterners and South southerners living in cities, will continue to find it difficult to retire to their native homes. “Our experimental estate in the commercial nerve center of Abia State – Lush City Phase 1 Aba- witnessed huge scramble . We actually sold out all plots within four weeks, Lush City Phase 2, Aba, is also fast selling out and third phase is loading. Interestingly, 90% of those who invested into Lush City exclusive estates are Igbo’s living in the diaspora. Good number of accomplished professionals living in different Nigerian cities, business people and politicians also joined in the scramble for Lush City,” Oyedemi disclosed.
During a recent facility tour of Lush City Aba and Uyo, our correspondent found out that Lush City innovation in the South East and South South regions was carefully targeted at creating ideal environmental and orchestrating a change in the life style of the people. “Our primary objective is to spark off development in the region and enhance the lifestyle of the people positively. We want to clean up the streets, and have it filled with people of positive minds. Lush City is a revolution intended to use real estate to improve South East South South, by planting cities.
“We believe that South Easterners travel far and wide. Why should they come back to their own place and the best they see are isolated edifices spotting a predominantly remote village settings? While we are not saying that a village shouldn’t be a village, we want to ensure that South Easterners and residents of neighbouring communities are be able to enjoy good infrastructure, portable water supply, ambience, recreational facilities, security and elevated lifestyle that they enjoy in various cities where they reside,” Oyedemi said.
He continued: “The Igbos have done so much but they are enjoying less. They have built lots of exquisite mansions scattered in their villages and town. Incidentally many are scared to come back home due to the absence of urban lifestyle that they enjoy in the cities. That they have beautiful houses doesn’t make isolated family mansions in villages and towns a city. A collection of those houses having adequate social amenities, recreational facilities, good infrastructural base and linked to sprawling pockets of towns and villages make up a city. We are creating an environment whereby there will be a show of creativity, innovation in the South East and south south through Lush City revolution. At the end of the day, both the typical natives as well as the cosmopolitan easterners can have a feel of ambience, security and enhanced lifestyle back in their home town.
“When you travel oversees you find out that even the way you talk, the way you dress, the malls and places you visit, everything you come in contact with is just attractive; and all these things contribute to your lifestyle. “We want such environment in the South East and South South regions. Lagos and Abuja are already urban cities, with the vital contribution of the real estate sector. Several estates implies several developments, Oyedemi added.
Chief Okosisi Ochingwa, a dealer in stockfish in Ariaria Market, Aba said; ” This is a welcome development. He observed that tremendous self developmental projects and infrastructures are taking place around Osisioma area of Aba where Lush City Phase 1 is located. According to Ochingwa, the place was a virgin land when PWAN Plus arrived. “Now the place is growing fast. People no longer call the location by its original name. They now call it Lush City. So Lush City has become a land mark. Also, the government of Abia State has began to improve infrastructural development in the area,” Ochingwa said excitedly.
At the moment, PWAN Plus has replicated Lush City in Abia State, Imo State, Akwa-Ibom State while Cross River State and other neighbouring States are in the pipeline. The firm’s MD stressed that the initiative was careful created to rule the South East and South South real estate sector. “Like the name implies, it is sprawling. Lush City is already established in Owerri, Imo State, We have Lush City phases 1, 2 and 3 in Aba, and Lush City Umuahia is loading. The first phase of Lush City, Uyo Akwa-Ibom State is fast selling while plans to launch Calabar Lush City has reached advance stage. So it’s a revolution to spring up cities in this region, to turn things around so that the people here will embrace urban lifestyle,” he further explained.
It is hoped that the initiative will accomplish a lot more in the regions.
“If our South eastern and South South brothers can find such comfort back in their villages and towns, their home economy will definitely improve. Commerce will receive tremendous boost because people will have the need to buy, sale and more money will flow in locally. Now we know that by the time smart cities are replicated security will become something that will be appreciated rather than an issue.
“This is because the cities will have top notch security arrangement, residents of the surround communities will also benefit from tight security and government too will complement the efforts. We want to encourage urbanisation, quality lifestyle, technology, enhance productive capacity by turning desolate places into new urban settings.
“Precisely, the Lush City revolution will deliver the paradigm shift in the living environment of the people from a predominantly remote community to satellite towns adequately linked with social amenities so that someone who lives in Owerri can comfortable do business in Umuahia and return to his or her base the same day. Our plan is to use real estate to ignite development in the South East and South South. This will surely eliminate the dilemma our Igbo brothers who are desirous of relocating back to their villages experience. As you can see, Lush City project is already to bringing back Igbos in the diaspora,” Oyedemi related.
By Ebriku John Friday, Abuja
A group of Nigerian students and activists under the auspices of Joint Action Committee, JAC, Wednesday, embarked on peaceful protest at the popular NICON Junction, in Maitama District of Abuja to demand capital punishment for corrupt public officials including other issues.
The protest which was organised by One Love Foundation, initially was billed to hold at Unity Fountain, opposite Transcorp Hilton, but was stopped by security agents from using the venue.
Speaking on the reasons for their protest, the Founder, One Love Foundation, Chief Patrick Eholor, said Nigerians are indeed taking for a ride and the common patrimony that belongs to them are on daily basis carted away with impunity, and they can no more sit and watch.
He also lamented that worsening insecurity situation in the North East region, which has claimed over 37, 000 lives of innocent Nigerians, therefore called for the resignation and apology of Service Chiefs.
He said: “Our demands include capital punishment for who loot our common patrimony, and this is our first demand. In order to eliminate corruption is to introduce capital punishment because Buhari said if we don’t kill corruption, corruption will kill us.
Founder of One Love Foundation, Chief Patrick Eholor, speaking with journalists
“We are also saying that Nigerian institutions should reverse what they call admittance fee for the sake of the poor people. We are saying the Nigerian Police should be given adequate package to stop the aggression towards us, the Nigerian Customs Service should leave our streets and go to the borders, the Nigerian Immigration Service should stop giving citizenship to Lebanese, Indians and Chinese, and women should get more involved in politics.
“Service Chiefs have done us a disservice. We have lost over 37, 000 people in the North and the statistics are very correct. They should retire and apologise. So we must change the Service Chiefs because they have done us a disservice.
“We call on the Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amechi, for putting Nigeria’s sovereignty in danger over his signing of agreements that we just know about.
“We warn that if there is no change we all will become unruly and outlawed.”
He further stated that the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Sen God’swill Akpabio, mention all names of those who have milked the nation as far as the National Assembly probe on Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, is concerned ., which he aqlso alleged that the NDDC has not funded any project in Edo State, where he hails from.
“I approached my Member House of Representatives, who was allegedly mentioned by the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Sen God’swill Akpabio as a contract beneficiary to show me where in the constituency he executed the projects, but he denied categorically, saying Akpabio must be day-dreaming. NDDC has not being funded in my area since 2018. Akpabio must mention to us those with him that milked Nigeria”, he added.
Speaking further, he (Eholor) called for peaceful and fair election in Edo State governorship election.
“My advice the governorship candidates of the two political parties, PDP and APC respectively is to ensure free and fair electoral process and think of the electorates, and who the cap fits should wear it, there is no loser or winner, who wins should be saluted and whoever lose should be embraced”, he said.
However, he said that, “I am not partisan because there have been accusations of god-father left and right. If we say former Chairman of All Progressives Congress, APC, and former Governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole, was a god-father for instance, the son who is my friend and present Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, benefited from that god-fatherism.
Comrade Sunny Idika speaking during the protest
“So he who has not lived or sin let him cast the first stone. They all have one interest and don’t have interest of the people. We must stop that and people must be educated to go out there and register and truly vote. We must not sacrifice ourselves for these ‘bandits’.”
Meanwhile, other leaders of the protesters, including Nigerian Students and Youth Activist, Comrade Osemudiamen Ogbidi, National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Chapter, Comrade John Michael, and others said President Muhammadu Buhari, should not leave those people who siphoned Nigeria’s money, eaten what belongs to the Nigerian youth and citizens should surely pay heavily for it, and ensure that anybody caught siphoning Nigeria money should be sentenced to death.
“Whether it is any institution or individual to siphon the money that belong to the public by private individuals it is not in the interest of Nigerians to continue to fight corruption that has no effect on the well-being of fellow Nigerians.
“Every day in our lives we have people who are dying because of poverty what has caused it is not more than corruption. We are here as Nigerian students, activists, advocates and conscience that anyone found wanton of corruption should die by corruption. Corruption is now a ‘Nigerian’ living with us but we say no to corruption.
“The Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, should provide the N80 billion spent within four months. The NDDC must tell us the N128 million they used to send drivers to driving schools. Where on earth is that done? Today everybody wants to travel to Dubai, but what did it take the people there to establish and develop their country? It was less than N1 billion. We hear billions of Naira budgeted for schools and others and yet our country is retrogressing. We say enough is enough!
“The reason why the Nigerian students have not resumed school is because of corruption. How long are we going to live like this in poverty, Diaspora, suffering, and if there is no change we are going to contain Nigeria”, they alleged.
A US based philanthropist, Mr Afamefuna Atu on Sunday launched an empowerment foundation to cater for the needs of the indigent in Enugu State.
Atu, who is the president of the organisation called Kings Care Empowerment Foundation, said that he was motivated to launch the foundation due to unpleasant personal experiences he had while growing up.
The president while speaking during the formal inauguration of the Nigeria office, said that the foundation was aimed at addressing the health, education and material needs of the people.
He said that three events in the history of his family shaped his passion for humanitarian works leading to the present intervention.
“Three events in my family history shaped my passion for humanitarian works. First is the death of my grandmother, who died during childbirth because of malnutrition and lack of food.
“The baby boy she was delivered of also died too. She left my mother aged two and her four years old sister behind.
“Shortly after my grandmother’s death, an eye disease which we know as ‘apollo’ broke out in our community and my grandfather was one of those that were affected,” he said.
According to Atu, his grandfather did not have money for medical treatment due to poverty and went for a local remedy.
“He squeezed a local herb into his eyes to clear the infection but he lost his eyes leaving my two-years old mother and her four years old sister motherless and with a blind father,” he said.
Atu said his father also lost his younger sister to liver cancer “and the tragedy affected all of us. After hearing the story of my grandparents, I vowed to make sure that no other parent will experience such suffering.
“Realising that when we leave this world we will not be remembered by the volume of our wealth but by our good deeds.
“Standing on those ideals, I established the Kings Care Empowerment Foundation whose primary aim is focused on our people to avoid another parent losing their eyesight as a result of poverty.
“I will not also like to see another woman dying at her birth stool like my grandmother,” he said.
Atu said that the foundation would focus on rural communities in order to create a future the people could touch and feel; a future where everyone is valued, every voice is heard and every life counts.
“As we formally open our headquarters in Nigeria, we look forward to engaging communities on challenges of health and community development, youth outreach and women empowerment,” Atu said.
Earlier, the Director of the foundation, Mr Ikechukwu Nwobodo, said that the organisation which was founded in 2017 had engaged in charitable works and growth of indigent families through medical outreach and others.
In a goodwill message, Enugu State Commissioner for Youths and Sports, Mr Manfred Nzekwe, said that the state government would partner with the foundation in any way possible to address the challenges of indigent members of the society among others.
Nzekwe commended the founder of the foundation for the initiative.
Highlight of the event was testimonies from beneficiaries of the foundation’s empowerment schemes.