The Edo State State Government has said the that Freedom of Information Act is not applicable in Edo State, citing a Court of Appeal decision.
In a letter to Chief Patrick Eholor, dated 20th of May, 2021 and endorsed by the Solicitor General of Edo State and Permanent Secretary, Edo State Ministry of Justice-Oluwole Iyamu SAN, the government said the FOI is not applicable to the state.
However in a swift reaction to the letter, Chief Eholor, through his counsel, Douglas Ogbankwa Law Firm,
stated that he will be pleased to meet the Edo State Government in court, as he won a similar case against the Edo State Government recently at the Edo State High Court, where the court held that the Freedom of Information Act is applicable to Edo State and awarded damages against the Government.
Eholor stated further that the Government relied on an outdated authority or judicial precedent on the matter as latest authorities on the matter are on all fours with his position on the issue.
“Edo State Government should get ready for a long drawn legal battle, as we interrogate other governmental processes to ensure transparency and accountability in government”.
Foremost human rights defender and founder of One Love Foundation, Chief Patrick Eholor has sent out a Save Our Soul message over alleged attempts by Edo-born billionaire, Chief Gabriel Igbinedion to intimidate him out of his landed property and arrest him.
Eholor also alleged that Igbinedion, the Esama of Benin kingdom had sent persons to physically attack him, a development which could have resulted in serious bodily harm, or death on his part.
In a petition addressed to the Assistant Inspector General of Police
Zone 5, Benin City, with reference number TA/04/05/21/VOL.II, and dated 04/05/2021, Chief Eholor through his lawyers, T. A. AKAHOMEN ESQ, of T. A. Akahomen & Co, Notaries Public accused Chief Igbinedion of trying to use his political influence and financial muscle to push him out of the vast, choice land located at One, Benin City and take over the property.
The petition, which was made available to journalists, is hereby reproduced in parts below:
A CASE OF THREAT TO LIFE, LAWLESSNESS, OPPRESSION AND ACTS
CAPABLE OF CAUSING BREACH OF PEACE: CALL FOR URGENT
We write as solicitors to CHIEF PATRICK OSAGIE EHOLOR, also known as
“Ultimate Equal”, the Founder and President, “One Love Foundation; a Non –
Governmental Organization, who we shall refer to as our client in this petition.
It is our instruction that our client is the owner in possession of a vast land
situate at Obe Community in Benin City. On or about the 23rd day of April, 2021,
following destruction on our client’s crops and property on the land by one MR.
FRIDAY, who claimed to be acting for an undisclosed person at that time;
ISMAILA SULE MOHAMMED, an employee of our client made a report at
Etete Police Division. Our client’s employee made an entry on the criminal acts
of the said FRIDAY. One policewoman at Etete Division made a call to FRIDAY
to report and answer to the allegations against him.
Show quoted text
every day in the country”, T. A. Akahomen stated in the petition, on behalf of Chief Patrick Osagie.
Also speaking about the matter, Eholor alleged “They are boasting that they want to use thugs, they want to use police, they want to use soldiers to silence me. The world should be aware that if anything happens to me, Igbinedion should be held responsible.
‘His son in law, Osunde has a corruption case on his neck, where people lost over 23 billion to him. The EFCC arrested him, and the case is still there.
“There is also the case of his son, Lucky Igbinedion who was tried for corruption in Edo State.
“Igbinedion is not God. He has been sending non uniform police to my house, he has been sending some unknown soldiers to my house, as a matter of fact, he has been sending people to my children’s school to go and look for them. I am crying out so that the world will know that my life is at stake with Igbinedion over a piece of land.
“This is a man who have operated an airline, a man who has houses everywhere in the world, this is a man who is so blessed by God, but this man now wants to curse God. But he cannot curse God because God is almighty. God will fight for me.
“If I speak, I will die, if I don’t speak, I will die, so let the world know that Esama is threatening to kill me and my family”, Eholor said to journalists.
Attempts to speak with the Esama of Benin to get his own side of the story were unproductive, as he was said to be away in South Africa.
On behalf of the Eastern Rights CSOs and Intelligentsia Coalition (a coalition of 40 Rights CSOs and Intelligentsia bodies), Intersociety hereby appeals and invites members of the public in the East including town union, human rights and Christian faith activists or leaders particularly in Igbo Land part of Benue, Kogi and Edo and Eastern Nigerian States of Delta, Anambra, Rivers, Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Imo, Abia, Enugu and Ebonyi to report to us any human rights violation in their areas by the following: Army, Navy, Air Force (i.e. killing of unarmed and defenseless citizens through air bombings), SSS, Police and its various operational squads.
Others are joint military and police special squads, jihadist Fulani Herdsmen and their ‘Banditry’ counterparts, etc. This appeal is authorized by Emeka Umeagbalasi and Barr Chidimma Udegbunam, Board Chair and Publicity Head of Intersociety
The human rights violations being focused on include: late night abductions and disappearances involving unarmed and defenseless citizens, burning down or destruction of living houses and sacred places of worship and learning, arrest and detention of civilians by army, navy and air force, police long detention of citizens without trial, sexual violence against women including abduction, rape and death-rape; extrajudicial shooting and killing (i.e. instant or custodial killing of unarmed citizens), false labeling and trumped up charges, indiscriminate late night invasion of dwelling houses and broad day light shooting of unarmed citizens, assault occasioning grievous bodily harm and torture; Fulani Herdsmen and Fulani Bandits’ killings or destruction and seizure of farmlands and abduction, disappearance, rape and broad day and captivity murder of women and others.
Details concerning the victims of human rights violation include: full name of the victim and his/her gender, age, religion and number of kids borne (if she is a married woman), victim’s community, local government area and state of origin; time, date and location of the rights violation and type of rights abuse perpetrated; whereabouts of his/her body if killed and disappeared or name of security agency responsible for his/her body’s disappearance; name and contacts of victim’s next-of-kin; number of victims (if group victims) and name of the state actor or non state actor entity that perpetrated the human rights violation.
The purposes of this clarion call are to document and expose the atrocities perpetrated and their perpetrators for global attention and accountable-justice including trial at ICC and others as well as to safeguard the unarmed and defenseless citizens from remote and immediate operational atrocities of the Nigerian security agencies-noted globally as serial abusers and violators of human rights.
We are also determined at documenting and exposing the atrocities of the jihadist Fulani Herdsmen and their ‘Banditry’ counterparts across the East particularly in Igbo Land; being perpetrated for purpose of advancing the Government backed jihad project but deceitfully camouflaged as “rural cattle grazing”. We must not allow the ongoing grisly or ‘industrial scale’ human rights abuses and violations in Igbo Land and the rest of Eastern Nigeria to continue!
Please send your verified and verifiable details to our contacts below:
Chairman of human rights group, One Love Foundation, Chief Patrick Osagie Eholor has threatened to sue the Edo State Governor, over the latter’s refusal to appoint commissioners in the state.
He also said the Edo State House of Assembly is, as well as the governor has a case to answer for hastily reading, and passing a bill into Law under 12 hours, in order to sack the Governing Council of Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma.
Eholor, who goes by the aliases of Ultimate Equals, and Democracy Observer-General respectively, expressed disgust in a social media message Tuesday, following the quick succession of first, second and third readings of a bill by a few members of the Edo State House of Assembly.
The human rights activist wondered if there were no competent hands in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), or the All Progressives Congress (APC), Governor Obaseki’s former party who were qualified enough to be made commissioners in the face of the many issues ravaging the state.
Jungle Journalist Media Limited reproduces the message below, as posted by Chief Eholor:
‘Can anybody assist me?I need an urgent answer …do we still have Edo State House of Assembly?
A Legislative activity follows 5 trajectories-First Reading, Second Reading, Committee Stage, Third Reading where the Bill was passed and the signing of the Bill or the Overriding of the Veto if any.
‘I’m surprised you have first and second and third reading the same day…It is only possible with Godwin Obaseki’s House of Assembly
‘Edo State House of Assembly has entered into the Guinness Books of Record as the Fastest Legislator in the World. Godwin Obaseki has also shown to be the fastest Governor signing a Bill anywhere in the world, where they all passed and signed a Bill in less than 12 hours, taking over the affairs of the Ambrose Ali University, AAU Ekpoma same day. What charade? What a shame! What a hoax!
‘My friend said they are called the legislachop and the executhieves.
‘I hope the judiciary will stand tall in this matter because we are going to court.
‘Don’t we have competent persons in PDP where he found his lost love and make them commissioners or doesn’t he have any competent person in his previous party APC that paved way for him as a governor of Edo State? In a democratic dispensation, it’s collective unfortunately ‘Mr wake and see governor’. Am giving him 30 days ultimatum to appoint commissioners-he can no longer be a Sole Administrator. The good people of Edo State voted for a governor, not an administrator, if he doesn’t comply, I will have no choice than to go to court and seek for a redress for the troubles we are facing as citizens of Edo state such as
Workers in Adoration Ministry, Enugu, and members of the ministry are currently protesting at Holy Ghost Cathedral, Enugu, over the alleged abduction of Reverend Father Ejike Mbaka, who is in charge of the ministry.
Jungle Journalist Media Ltd correspondent in Enugu gathered that the fiery Reverend Father was last seen on Tuesday, 4th May, 2021, when he went to honour an invitation from the Bishop of Enugu Catholic Diocese, Callistus Valentine Onaga.
A visit to the Adoration grounds in the outskirts of Emene Enugu showed that the place was deserted, and members were seen moving in disarray. The weekly prayer session that usually held every Wednesday was not on.
In an earlier statement, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Council Worldwide, OYC, said that the Catholic father’s whereabouts is unknown.
Mbaka had criticised the government of President Muhammadu Buhari over insecurity, asking the president to resign for inefficiency.
According to Mazi Okwu Nnabuike of the OYC, “We have it on good authority that his aides have neither seen nor heard from him since Tuesday.
“Calls put to his mobile line have also remained unanswered; this has now prompted us to issue this alarm as we would not take it lightly should anything untoward happen to him.
“We are giving the Federal Government 48 hours to produce the priest, else they should be ready to face Igbo youths. They were dining and wining with him all along and now that he told the truth, they are no longer comfortable with him.
“Let nothing happen to Rev. Fr. Ejike Mbaka. It will not be in anybody’s interest,” the group warned.
The president of One Love Foundation, a human rights organization based in Benin City has vowed to bring justice to four staff of a former Nigerian minister, Mr Kenneth Gbagi who stripped them naked in his hotel.
Chief Patrick Osagie Eholor, Democracy Observer General in a statement, told journalists that he is wading into the matter which took place on Friday, 18 September, 2020 at Signatious Hotel, Effurun-Warri.
Eholor, who was visibly angry during his address, said the former minister took advantage of his exalted position in the society to abuse the workers, and vowed that until such men and women realize that they are not better than others in the society, they will keep thinking they are untouchable.
His words “We of One Love Foundation are joining other human rights groups to fight against the level of injustice meted out to these four respectable citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Even if they were criminals, who is he to have taken the laws into his hands? To have ordered that the be stripped naked and paraded on the streets? What happened to our sense of humanity? What happened to our sanity? Kenneth Gbagi must be brought to book. Justice must prevail for the four of them.
“I want to assure you all that One Love Foundation is at the moment assembling a team of lawyers to take the matter up and ensure that this man goes down for the crimes he has committed. I am also calling on every Nigerian with a conscience to join us in this fight. Until these men are put in their places, they won’t stop believing that they are untouchable. We will teach him that he is not just touchable, but also convictable. He said he will ruin their lives, he will now realize that he is not God and no one’s destiny is in his hands. and see whose life will be ruined.
“The Kenneth Gbagis of this world must be stopped. Senator Elisha Abbo used his position to intimidate a shopkeeper in Abuja and Nigerians put him in his place. The chairman of Code of Conduct Tribunal, Umar Danladi also abused a common Nigerian because of his privileged position, but we will not rest until we teach him that all men and women are equal.
“Men of the Nigerian Police have not helped matters. In all of these, they have been used against the very people they vowed to protect. All for what? Peanuts. We will not sit back and watch while the ordinary Nigerian is abused and molested, and his rights denied. Justice must prevail”, Eholor said.
Recall that Kenneth Gbagi, ex-Minister of State for Education, ordered for the arrest of four of his Gloria Oguzie, Victor Ephraim, Rosslyn Okiemute and Achibong Precious-working in his hotel to court alleging that they stole N5,000.
But they had denied stealing from the hotel, insisting that they only accepted a tip from a customer.
According to reports, Gbagi, ordered that they be stripped naked and photographed by his 15 year old son inside the hotel before handing them over to the police.
They were photographed and videoed in the presence of police officers, and the video published in the social media.
After dehumanizing the four staff, a male and three females, they were taken to the Ebrumede Police Station to be remanded in custody.
Gbagi further forcefully ordered the withdrawal of all the cash in the bank accounts of the four staff through their ATM cards before the police took them away.
The four staff were charged before a magistrate court sitting in Effurun after four days of detention.
In a five-count charge, the police accused the suspects of conniving among themselves to steal monies ranging from N156,000, N110,000, N5,000 and N2,000 owned by Signatious Hotel and committed an offence punishable under section 516 and 390 (9), of the criminal code Law Cap21C Vol.1 Law of Delta State.
The Nigerian Federal Government says the reported decision of the United Kingdom to grant asylum to “persecuted” members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) is disrespectful of Nigeria as a nation.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, also said that the decision amounted to sabotaging the fight against terrorism and generally undermining Nigeria’s security.
Fielding questions from Newsmen on Tuesday in Abuja, Mohammed said the decision is unacceptable to Nigeria.
“Let me say straight away that this issue is within the purview of the Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs and I am sure he will handle it appropriately.
“But as the spokesman for the Federal Government of Nigeria, I will say that if indeed the report that the UK will grant asylum to supposedly persecuted IPOB and MASSOB members is true, then something is wrong somewhere.
“Against the background of the fact that IPOB is not only proscribed but also designated as a terrorist organisation here in Nigeria, the UK’s decision is disrespectful of Nigeria as a nation.
“The decision amounts to sabotaging the fight against terrorism and generally undermining Nigeria’s security.
“It is not only unconscionable, but it is also inexplicable,’’ he said.
The minister said that there had recently been heightened attacks against security agencies in the South East Zone.
He said IPOB had been fingered as being behind the attacks in spite of its denials.
“For the UK to choose this time to give succour to IPOB beggars belief and calls to question the UK’s real intention.
“If we could go down the memory lane, what the UK has done is like Nigeria offering asylum to members of the IRA before the 1998 Good Friday Peace Agreement,’’ he said.
NAN reports that the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) had released new guidelines to its decision-makers on how to consider and grant asylum applications by members of Biafran secessionist groups.
In the guidelines, asylum is to be granted to “persecuted” members IPOB, a group that Nigeria had designated as a terrorist organisation.
Also in the guidelines, asylum is to be granted to the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra.
The UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) has released new guidelines to its decision makers on how to consider and grant asylum applications by members of Biafran secessionist groups.
Asylum is to be granted to “persecuted” members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), which has been designated as a terrorist organisation by the Nigerian government, and the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB).
IPOB was formed in 2012, and is believed to be an offshoot of MASSOB, which was founded in 1999 by Ralph Uwazuruike.
Both are campaigning for the secession of mainly the south-east but also several other ethnic nationalities from Nigeria.
In the just-released ‘Country Policy and Information Note Nigeria: Biafran secessionist groups’, the UKVI, a division of the Home Office, directed its decision makers to consider if a person “who actively and openly supports IPOB is likely to be at risk of arrest and detention, and ill-treatment which is likely to amount to persecution”.
According to the guidelines, the decision makers “must also consider if the [Nigerian] government’s actions are acts of prosecution, not persecution. Those fleeing prosecution or punishment for a criminal offence are not normally refugees. Prosecution may, however, amount to persecution if it involves victimisation in its application by the authorities”.
An example of persecution, the UKVI said, is “if it is the vehicle or excuse for or if only certain groups are prosecuted for a particular offence and the consequences of that discrimination are sufficiently severe. Punishment which is cruel, inhuman or degrading (including punishment which is out of all proportion to the offence committed) may also amount to persecution They are also to “consider each case on its facts to determine if the person is likely to be of interest to the [Nigerian] government and whether this is for the legitimate grounds of prosecution which is proportionate and non-discriminatory”.
BURDEN OF PROOF
The onus is on the applicants to demonstrate that they will be “at risk of persecution or serious harm” in Nigeria, according to the guidelines.
In particular, the decision makers are to consider each case on its facts, taking into account:
*profile, size, and organisation of the group/organisation to which the person belongs and its activities,
*whether a person in the UK would wish to continue their activism if returned to Nigeria (if not, why not),
*whether the group/organisation has a presence in Nigeria as well as outside of the country and any evidence that it is being monitored by the government,
*person’s profile and political activities (including those online) and relevant documentary or other evidence,
*profile and activities of family members,
The UK acknowledges that the Nigerian government has a responsibility to maintain law and order, “to prevent and protect the public against acts of violence”.
It said where supporters or members of MASSOB or IPOB “have incited or used violence to disrupt public order, the government may have legitimate grounds to arrest and prosecute those people”.
“However, where the government has arrested and detained persons who, for example, peacefully participate in demonstrations and has then charged them with treason or the person is subjected to periods of detention in degrading or inhuman conditions, such treatment is unlikely to be fair or proportionate, and is likely to amount to persecution,” the guidelines noted.
The UK defines ‘Biafra’ as an area “in the south-east of Nigeria that comprises the states of Abia, Imo, Ebonyi, Enugu and Anambra. The area is inhabited principally by Igbo (Ibo) people who are one of the country’s 3 largest ethnic groups”.
One Love Foundation, led by Chief Patrick Eholor also known as Ultimate Equal has set up yet another Legal Team to tackle Senators and Members of the House of Representatives on the Transparency and Execution of Constituency Projects.
In his avowed desire to ensure transparency in governmental processes in Nigeria, Chief Patrick has constituted a Special Legal Team to interrogate the process of the contracting and execution of Constituency Projects among Legislators in Nigeria.
The Legal Team will work with the Freedom of Information Act to unravel the following:
Nature of constituency projects, location, sums budgeted with evidence of the appropriation act, evidence of monies released to the contractors, particulars of directors of companies that execute same, and state of completion of each of the constituency projects.
Others include evidence of completion of the constituency projects, evidence of handing over of same, nature of the constituency projects in 2021 budget, location of same and particulars of directors for the purpose of monitoring, etc.
The Legal Team shall hit the ground running by Tuesday the 6th April, 2021, and will begin with lawmakers from Chief Eholor’s home state, Edo.
1. Senator Clifford Odia,
Senator Representing Edo Central Senatorial District in the Senate ,
Constituency Office ,
2. Senator Francis Alimikhena,
Senator Representing Edo North in the Senate,
3. Senator Mathew Uroghide,
Senator Representing Edo South Senatorial District in the Senate ,
Constituency Office ,
Others include the Edo State House of Representatives members, beginning with Honourable Ogbeide Ihama who represents Oredo/Ikpoba Okha Federal Constituency at the Federal House of Representatives.
Frontline human rights advocacy group, One Love Foundation(OLF) has issued a statement, asking President Muhammadu Buhari, and the Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Tanko Mohammed to suspend Mr Danladi Umar, over the physical assault of one Mr Clement Sagwak.
Sagwak, a security officer at Banex Plaza Abuja had been physically assaulted and injured by the Code of Conduct Bureau Chairman, for asking him to park his car properly at the Plaza.
OLF and Vanguard for the Independence of the Judiciary in a joint statement made available to Jungle Journalist Media Limited had asked President Muhammadu Buhari to suspend Danladi Umar, over the assault.
The Statement jointly issued by the President of One Love Foundation -Chief Patrick Eholor and the President of the Vanguard for the Independence of the Judiciary-Douglas Ogbankwa Esq., partly reads:
“The Conduct of Danladi Umar, Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal is infra dig a judicial officer in Nigeria and runs at variance with the current Code of Conduct for judicial officers in Nigeria, which abhors such street-like conduct that has made the judiciary in Nigeria to be viewed with odium and opprobrium in the eyes of right thinking members of the public.
“Danladi Umar who is used to giving clandestine ex parte orders against high ranking statutorily appointed leaders of organs or agencies of the Federal Government sadly, has had his own ruling in the court of public opinion as the referenced viral video of Danladi Umar fighting in the car park of a mall is reminiscent of Wrestlamania 25. It does not seem any more, that the evil that men do live after them, but along with them as the despicable physical tirade of Danladi Umar at Banex Plaza, Abuja is a sufficient demonstration of the natural law of karma, that you reap what you sow.
“We call on the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Mohammed, through the appropriate organ, to wield the big stick and suspend Danladi Umar as his conduct as evidenced in the viral video is a disgrace to the Nigerian Judiciary. This is keeping with international best practices”, it stated.