Nigerian News from Leadership News Sun, 24 Jul 2016 02:51:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Manufacturing Sector Gasps Under New Forex Policy Sun, 24 Jul 2016 02:51:29 +0000 BUHARIThe new foreign exchange policy announced by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, with the aim of making access to foreign exchange easier for importation of raw materials has been of little help as manufacturers in the country decry their inability to get the greenback to import raw materials for production, OLUSHOLA BELLO reports. Despite...]]> BUHARI

The new foreign exchange policy announced by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, with the aim of making access to foreign exchange easier for importation of raw materials has been of little help as manufacturers in the country decry their inability to get the greenback to import raw materials for production, OLUSHOLA BELLO reports.

Despite the recent adoption of a flexible foreign exchange rate policy by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the challenges in the manufacturing sector have persisted and are getting worse.

Apparently heeding the cry of manufacturers to smoothen access to foreign currencies for import of raw materials, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), on June 15, 2016, unveiled a new foreign exchange policy anchored on market determinism of the naira exchange rate.

According to the apex bank, the policy aims to improve real sector’s access to foreign currencies, which took a worse turn from August 23, 2015 when about 41 items including some basic raw materials were declared ineligible for foreign currency through the official window.

However, the first auction which took place on June 20, 2016, saw the naira trading at an average of N282 to the dollar from about N197 before then.

By the time the dust of that maiden transaction settled, the stakeholders had incurred over N300 billion arising from outstanding Letters of Credit obligations which the new flexible policy insists would now be settled using the new exchange rate of N282 to the dollar.

Today, stakeholders are crying blue murder, lamenting the flexible exchange rate has rather worsened their woes than ameliorate it.

Also, the Nigerian Economists Society (NES) stated that the flexible foreign exchange regime cannot survive in a non-productive economy as the country may slide into depression.

The society stressed that managed float policy is a better option given the Nigerian economy’s current local productive capacity and overdependence on crude oil as its major source of forex earning.

Background to new CBN’s intervention

Nigeria has had a fixed exchange rate system since August 2015 and although the naira has been twice devalued. The CBN at its last Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) in May, 2016, had adopted a flexible forex rate to manage the economy. The apex bank said the decision of the Committee was based on the need to stabilise the exchange rate, which had witnessed sharp depreciation in the parallel market due to the shortfall in government’s revenue from crude oil sale and generation of foreign exchange into the country.

Meanwhile, the arguments in favour of foreign exchange controls, protecting those at the bottom from inflation, economic diversification and preventing a collapse in the naira have lost their strength. A parallel market has opened up headline inflation to increase from 9.2 per cent in July 2015 to 15.5 per cent in June 2016 and finally diversification cannot happen in the short term, particularly while essential inputs cannot be obtained. Thus, the economy shrunk for the first time in many years in first quarter, 2016, which include manufacturing companies forced to shut down production lines dramatically since February this year. Real sector troubles have been mirrored in banking sector loan impairment, resulting to job losses.

Under the new system, the FOREX market will operate through a single autonomous interbank window and the exchange rate will be determined by market forces. But the central bank will periodically buy or sell forex to intervene if extreme fluctuations occur. The bank has also decided to introduce primary dealers that will deal with the central bank directly for large trade sizes while these primary dealers will in turn deal with other authorized dealers. The central bank is also introducing the sales of futures to try to insulate investors from volatility in the exchange rate.

New challenges

In spite of the optimism by the CBN and commendation it thus received from the country’s organised private sector (OPS), the manufacturers seem no longer comfortable with the turn of event, more so as they argued that flexible exchange rate regime cannot function well in an economy with multiple FX windows because of the existence of parallel market that would not permit equal exchange rate.

They argued also that the challenge of hoarding by banks which may source FX from the CBN and withhold it for speculative purposes will still be there, particularly as the new policy stipulates the CBN will not sell forex to BDCs but to banks.

In their view, banks may sell to any entity, and this means that they can sell to BDCS, wondering how the policy would cope with such collusion without the economy experiencing further exchange rate deterioration.

Companies have started to feel the impact of naira devaluation against the dollar (USD) resulting in unrealised exchange loss, for example Lafarge Wapco reported a loss after tax of N30 billion in its half year result for 2016 due to this, as more companies are likely to be affected.

The president, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Dr. Frank Jacobs recently said, although the CBN deregulated the forex market with the aim of curbing the scarcity of forex, the scarcity has persisted.

He said, “The recent deregulation of the forex market may be seen as a partial solution to the forex challenge the country is facing; but in reality, the scarcity of forex has not abated.

“Consequently, manufacturing companies found it extremely difficult to source forex for the importation of essential raw materials and this has led to a number of closures of affected companies.

“In addition, discordant policy measures and pronouncements emanating from the various arms of government (Presidency, CBN, Finance ministry) did not help matters as manufacturers found it difficult to plan their production.”

On fiscal policy, Jacobs noted that the non-release of fiscal policy measures by the government within the period under review had created a vacuum.

He said, “The case of pharmaceuticals where raw materials and inputs attract higher duties than the finished products, and has been accepted for adjustment by the Tariff Technical Committee is an example.

“The absence of this adjustment is already affecting local pharmaceutical companies, which are unable to compete with imported pharmaceutical products and as such are forced to close shop or downsize.”

This was further corroborated by the vice president of MAN, Dr. Stella Okoli, who said the forex policy and the high interest rate payment have constrained Nigeria’s manufacturing industry in no small measure.

“Last year, we bought dollars at between N170 and N200 but now we buy at N350. You can see how this is affecting the manufacturing industry negatively,” she said.

She noted that although manufacturers could bid at N282 at the interbank rates, but they do not usually get what they bid for. “We were told that if we had bidded at over N280, we would get all the money we wanted even if it is a billion dollars but those who bidded lower than N280 will have to wait till about three to four months to get the forex they need.”

Okoli said that the new challenge has forced more companies in the sector to close down, while those still in operations are sacking their staff, thereby advocating for new policies to make the local manufacturing industry competitive in the international community.

She stated, “Government must formulate policies that would engender the growth of manufacturing, and regulatory agencies must work together to ensure smoother exports.”

Also, the managing director of InvestData Limited, Mr. Ambrose Omordion said that 35 days after the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) abandoned its 16 month old currency peg of the naira  to the dollar, there is something not quite right with the new FX market.

He added that foreign investors are not buying the story just yet by bringing in their funds, saying “The major problem is that the dollar to naira is not trading like it should after a long period of a tight overvalued peg, like the CBN had.

He however said that investors feel the true level of the naira has not been reached and are yet to come back, saying “They suspect the CBN is not letting market forces determine the true FX rate.”

The group managing director of Vitafoam Nigeria Plc, Mr. Taiwo Adeniyi said manufacturing companies in the country are crying over their inability to access FOREX under the current flexible exchange policy, saying “Manufacturers in the country are facing difficulties in accessing forex under the new flexible exchange rate as scarcity still persists.”

All these challenges, operators in the sector maintained call for quick intervention of the CBN before things get out of hand.

Manufacturing Sector Still Submerged Under New Forex Policy

The manufacturers believed that CBN’s adamance to the call to remove the embargo placed on the barred 41 items from accessing forex was equally detrimental to the sector.

They have been consistent in the call for a review of the list of 41 items, which according to them include some critical inputs for the manufacturing process. The umbrella body of the manufacturers said more factories had shut down and more have notified the association that they would be shutting down.

The CBN had in June 2015 issued a circular preventing importers of the 41 items from accessing foreign exchange from the official market. But the CBN governor insisted that the decision was taken to grow the local manufacturing sector and also conserve foreign exchange.

For most stakeholders, the policy seemed to have achieved the opposite of what it was set out to achieve because recently, the manufacturing sector rather than growing, had been shrinking.

The director-general of Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Mr. Muda Yusuf explained that there is a need for the CBN to review its position as many of the items on the list are inputs for industries. Many industries are being currently impacted adversely.

According to him, the exclusion has led to considerable loss of jobs in industries, distributive trade sector and maritime sector, it has also led to considerable loss of customs revenue, which will impact negatively on the federation account and fiscal viability of governments at all levels and the phenomenon of smuggling may be aggravated in respect of some of the excluded items.

Analysts have noted that the year 2016 has so far witnessed more job losses and factory closures than any other period in recent history. For instance 2015 and April 2016, it is reported that more than 1,500 of the 2,500 registered manufacturing companies was discovered to have shut down due to shortage of raw materials to continue production. Millions of employees of various manufacturing firms have likewise lost their jobs within the period.

The National Bureau of Statistics recently published a report that showed a declining growth in the manufacturing sector in the first quarter of 2016.

The NBS data showed that of the 13 activities in the manufacturing sector, only three had managed to record minimal growth. The three are oil refining; cement; and food, beverages and tobacco.

The NBS report also showed that the contribution of the sector to nominal Gross Domestic Product dropped to 9.93 per cent in the first quarter of 2016 from 10.17 per cent recorded in the corresponding period of 2015.

Irrespective of the daunting challenges and the reprisal effects, some stakeholders still could not but commend the CBN on the new policy, which they see as a saving grace for a dwindling and deteriorating economy.

The president of MAN noted that in spite of all odds, the new policy has been positive in terms of making dollars available, although at an increased exchange rate of N280.

Speaking on the positive side of the new FOREX policy, Yusuf said this will lead to improved liquidity in the forex market which would boost investors’ confidence, there will be a significant improvement in the allocative efficiency of foreign exchange and supply of forex to the forex market will be enhanced as confidence improves, especially from capital importation, export proceeds and diaspora remittances.

He also noted that there will be a considerable moderation in exchange rate as supply of forex improves, the federation account will benefit from better revenue inflows from the CBN as sale of subsidized forex comes to an end and the policy is a major incentive to exporters as they will have unfettered access to their export proceeds.


The new forex system is promising but it depends on how the central bank administers it. In conclusion, industry stakeholders have welcome the decision of the CBN to refrain from further tightening of monetary policy at this time as the current context is that the economy has been declining. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has contracted for the first time in twelve years, unemployment is on the rise, manufacturing capacity utilization has been weakening and investors’ confidence has been at its lowest ebb.  The decision not to tighten monetary policy is therefore appropriate.

They also proposed that the economy desires a transparent FOREX market which guarantees level playing fields for all investors.

Yusuf stated that export proceeds, capital importation and diaspora remittances should be allowed into the economy through the autonomous window at prevailing market rates and the owners of such funds should have unhindered access to their funds.


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Procurement Practice In Nigeria Lacks Professionalism Sun, 24 Jul 2016 02:48:25 +0000 Untitled-2Engineer Abdul Mamman, Lead Consultant, Procurement Auditor and Coordinator, Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply Management, North Central, in this interview with SUZAN NWACHUKWU, speaks on the negative effects of faulty procurement practices on the Nigeria’s economy and the way forward. What is your general perception of procurement practices in Nigeria? The public perception ranges...]]> Untitled-2

Engineer Abdul Mamman, Lead Consultant, Procurement Auditor and Coordinator, Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply Management, North Central, in this interview with SUZAN NWACHUKWU, speaks on the negative effects of faulty procurement practices on the Nigeria’s economy and the way forward.

What is your general perception of procurement practices in Nigeria?

The public perception ranges from the public sector and the private sector establishment. Under the public sector, there is this general belief to the citizenry that procurement decisions in the MDAs are not done with the stipulated processes and procedures, that some persons are being favoured to the detriment of others. They look at it as if there is usually an internal arrangement and it’s just to fulfil all righteousness that you see advertorials being made. I will like to partly defend that because it is not in all the MDAs that it is so. But there are some that continually perpetuate ill against the provisions of the public procurement act which is an infraction and we call on Nigerians who have interest in any procurement window to report any wrong doing they observed to the right quarters for appropriate sanctions.

The public perception have been very low because there are some persons with the functions of carrying out procurement in some MDAs that do not really require to be there because they lack the capacity and ability to do what is required to be there.

The government being the largest spender in an economy spend about 85 per cent of any budget on procurement of either goods or service. So if a budget is said to have been implemented to a high degree, that means , there is an efficient procurement plan and procedure that was followed and if there are none implementation or if it is within 30 per cent, it means there is a faulty procurement process. The fundamental principles of public procurement states that every procurement must be planned and every planned procurement must be integrated into the budget backed by appropriation laws, exception being emergencies.

On the other hand, the private sector is more organised than the public sector and the problem has to do with people’s lack of understanding that you can only get procurement right when you understand both public and private sector procurement because if you agree that the public sector drive the economy, you must give them a mention so that they will have a relationship that is functionally related between the two bodies. This is to ensure that services are offered at no excessive cost. This means that you must be able to identify private sector that has direct control over what they manufacture and the quality must be ascertained to ensure there is sustainability.

Public Procurement is believed to be the bane of corruption in the public sector and sometimes ago, the present administration promised to focus on purging that area to rid or at least reduce the level of corruption, how would you rate the success so far?

I can specifically tell you that words have not been met with action for reasons best known to policy makers. President Muhammadu Buhari during the electioneering campaign said that in his first 100 days in office, he was going to make sure that the council on Public procurement is inaugurated. To our chagrin, till this particular moment, nothing of sort has been done. The President need not be the one to say this or that must be done, there are people in his government saddled with that responsibility of kick starting it for the president to give his approval, but most of the things that we are seeing now suggest that this matter is not on the priority list of the government. Those who believe that it is going to be business as usual and that they can continue with their looting; but it can never work like that.

If you cast your mind back to so many publications concerning the arms procurement deal, they are purely issue of faulty procurement procedures because some people hide under such to perpetuate this evil called corruption and rather than allow a set of structures and rules to guide their conduct, they have decided to circumvent it using their positions. This conflict of interest has eaten deep into their conduct that they do not know where they need to call themselves to order to ascertain whether what they are doing is in line with the laid down rules and procedures.

Then there exist the Bureau of public procurement that ought to have known all this. If you take the statistics of people saddled with the responsibility of procurement in the MDAs, 95 per cent of them are none professionals in procurement. That is the problem we are having. It is only when Nigeria decides to do the right thing and government recognises the professionals in this field and apply them, we may just be playing in dangerous waters.

Procurement must be given a prominent talk in everything that the government does but it’s a place some persons want to place at the back as if it does not matter and those who want to cheat and take advantage of the system are the ones that do not want it to work.

The government should ensure that the National Council on Public Procurement is established because they are the policy making organ constituted base on the provision of the Act. It comprises the President, the Minister of Finance as chairperson, Attorney General as member, Head of Service as member, Secretary General of the Federation as member and Economic adviser to the President as member. Then you have six professional institutions: the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply management of Nigeria (CIPSMN), the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), NASIMA, the Nigerian Society of Engineers, the civil society and the media. These are the members that are to give direction and are to meet four times in a year to discuss issues about procurement. The Bureau is the secretariat but what we see in this country is that we have a Bureau that has being in existence since 2007 and had Director Generals without going through the provisions of the law! It’s a great infraction and most of the activities of the Bureau ought to be approved and rectified by the Council.

So does it means that without instituting the National Council on Procurement, all that the country is doing on procurement is a waste of time?

Absolutely correct! I was privileged to be among those that consulted for the National Assembly (2006/2007) in making the procurement Act and the Council was mentioned 61 times. That is to tell you the importance of the council. Most of the decisions that are to be taken that have direct impact on the conduct of procurement derive its authority from the Council but those circumventing it do not want it to come to be. If you look at the chain of relationships that was between the federal executive council of the past before this present administration, why should the highest policy organ be concerned with contract award, it’s a ritual that they’ve been doing to the detriment of the economy. Why should they be concerned with that because the Council referred to in the Act is not the Federal Executive Council (FEC). The FEC is populated by politicians and according to international standard; they should be devoid of involvement in procurement.

But the assumption is that procurement is an easy way to make money and some people are even ready to kill if you try to interfere.

Can you pinpoint some of the areas corrupt practices manifest in public procurement practice in the country?

There are three stages in procurement that is broadly defined: there is the pre-stage, i.e. the starting point, the next is the implementation state i.e. the actual implementation and the post-stage. The pre-stage is where the establishment of need is made. At this level there could be efforts by those who are trying to carry out fraudulent procurement to design a particular specification to suite what you have and not what the general public is going to respond to and by doing that already they have introduced fraudulent activities from the beginning so am working from answers to questions rather than questions to answer because I already know who is going to win it. Another one again at this level is that you discover that you did not make wider consultation in terms of advertisement in the attendant newspaper to reach out to those with competence to offer that service. Then you are denying a good number of organisation and persons not to participate. Again is this, if what some organisation put out in the paper is indescribable in the sense that there are ambiguity in terms of the advertisement, that it will only be functionally related to those they want to help to now have the details of the specifications.

At the implementation stage, there is one particular thing called substantial compliant with the tender document. The tender document is a document that identifies the relationship between the suppliers, service providers and the procuring entity and the procuring entity is able to define all that guide that particular procurement in the in the tender document which is usually sold at a fee. But should there be any opportunity some persons to do discriminatory specification again, there is going to be a problem.  It has happened in the past, which I recommended cancellation as far back as 2008 into an agency I was consulting for because I was able to prove based on the job I was doing that out of 23 contractors, 22 did not seem to get the specification right. If you are not trained to understand the intricacies, to know that this one person have privileged information, because there is no way that 22 people can be wrong and only one person right. When I investigated further, I found out that there was a specific privilege information given to that particular contractor who happen to be a friend to the procurement person who is not even a professional.


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Etisalat Strengthens Relationship with Customers in Uyo Sun, 24 Jul 2016 02:45:53 +0000 etisalat-logo_9In a direct demonstration of its leadership as Nigeria’s most customer-friendly telecoms operator, Etisalat, recently hosted customers on its network to a Customer Forum at Eemjim Hotel Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital.  The regional Customer Forum is an interactive feedback session aimed at engaging customers to serve them better and deepen relationships. Etisalat began...]]> etisalat-logo_9

In a direct demonstration of its leadership as Nigeria’s most customer-friendly telecoms operator, Etisalat, recently hosted customers on its network to a Customer Forum at Eemjim Hotel Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital.  The regional Customer Forum is an interactive feedback session aimed at engaging customers to serve them better and deepen relationships.

Etisalat began the customer forum in 2010 with the objective of engaging with customers and receiving valuable feedback on the quality of service delivery as well as product propositions and services. Since inception, the forum has hosted customers in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Calabar, Enugu, Benin, Ibadan, Kaduna, Warri, Onitsha and Akure.

Speaking at the session, Director, Brand and Experience, Elvis Ogiemwanye, said the Forum is a true reflection of the value the company places on its customers and how desirous it wants to help them achieve more in life.

“As the leading customer-focused company, we make it our duty to feel the pulse of our customers regarding the products and services we offer. We are keen to understand how best they want us to serve them. So, the forum enables us to meet with them, hear their views on our offerings, products and services and then respond to these needs in the best ways that would positively impact on their lifestyles,” he said.

Also speaking, the company’s Head, Consumer Segment, Idowu Adesokan, highlighted the company’s commitment to continuously improve the experience of customers on the network in keeping with the company’s tradition.

His words, “Since we started operations almost eight years ago, we have consistently developed systems that guarantee our customer’s best value for their money on our services and products.


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Heritage Bank Launches Pay Attitude Sun, 24 Jul 2016 02:44:42 +0000 heritage_bankIn the bid to continually give its customers a vast variety of payment solution options, Heritage Bank has launched the Pay Attitude, a mode of payment which uses chip and pin tag-type contactless solution based on Near Field Communication (NFC) technology. The Pay Attitude converts a customer’s mobile phone handset to an NFC device and...]]> heritage_bank

In the bid to continually give its customers a vast variety of payment solution options, Heritage Bank has launched the Pay Attitude, a mode of payment which uses chip and pin tag-type contactless solution based on Near Field Communication (NFC) technology.

The Pay Attitude converts a customer’s mobile phone handset to an NFC device and links the handset to the customer’s debit or prepaid account plus ePurse account, enabling the subscriber or customer to debit their accounts for different payment transactions.

According to the Managing Director and Chief Executive of Heritage Bank, Ifie Sekibo noted that  Pay Attitude was included as part of the bank’s collection of payment solutions because of its plus functionality, which guarantees subscribers the confidence and comfort of successful  proximity or contactless payment  for goods and services  at merchant  locations at all times, notwithstanding problems or challenges of telecommunication or unavailability of network of the merchant or customer’s bank.

Such transactions he said are authorized offline up to the value of plus functionality that the customer subscribed to with the bank. Listing its benefits Sekibo said Pay Attitude has a zero percentage transaction failure for the holder; instant issuance at the branches and agent locations; protection of issuers and holders against fraud and unauthorized usage because of its Chip and Pin feature and it suits the lifestyle of mobile phone users and it is convenient for retail transactions by tapping the phone against the PoS terminal.

Other benefits he said include Mobile Network Operator (MNO) Neutrality, which makes it usable on any phone network; handset neutrality ensures an automatic conversion of handsets to NFC compatibility, making it compliant with all phones and interoperability, which makes it possible to be used across different bank platforms and agents leveraging the switching and shared service capabilities of unified payments.

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Inflation Spike: Next MPC Meeting Will Be Trade Off Between Growth, Inflation – Analyst Sun, 24 Jul 2016 02:43:32 +0000 When the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meets next week, they will be confronted with choosing between voting for economic growth and stifling growing inflation rate, economic analyst has predicted.

The thinking among most analysts is that, it will be a visitation of hardship on hapless Nigerians if the committee takes measures to fight inflation growth.

They believe that, although Nigeria has risen to become number eight, in terms of African countries with high inflation, the only way to go in this time of economic contraction is to push for growth as panacea to pulling out of recession.

Bismarck Rewane, Chief Executive Officer of Financial Derivatives Company (FDC) Limited, “when policy makers are faced with the dilemma of either inflation or growth, the conventional logic is to choose growth in a period of contraction”.

He however said that with the spike in June’s inflation number the jury is out as to the outcome of the meeting.

“The most probable scenario is to maintain the status quo. Policy makers may not be inclined to tighten further as this could stifle growth and increase unemployment. They are likely to be comforted by the amount of liquidity mopping up due to the exchange rate change. Thus, are unlikely to apply a contractionary interest rate policy in addition to the exchange rate effect”, he said.

The impact of persistent inflation is erosion in value and confidence of economic agents. The market is expected to react accordingly to the trend of rising inflation.

Bond rates have settled in the region of 14.99 per cent recently. Given that bond yields are interest rate sensitive, it is believed that the outcome of the MPC is likely to impact the fixed income market.

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Commodities-Based Industrialisation, Way To Go For Nigeria – BoI Sun, 24 Jul 2016 02:42:29 +0000 BOI logoThe Bank of Industry (BOI) has canvassed for a commodity-based industrialization underpinned by beneficiation and value addition if Nigeria was to forge ahead. The bank said for the country to climb up the ladder of the global value chains in soft and hard commodities in which it has a comparative advantage, it must necessarily develop...]]> BOI logo

The Bank of Industry (BOI) has canvassed for a commodity-based industrialization underpinned by beneficiation and value addition if Nigeria was to forge ahead.

The bank said for the country to climb up the ladder of the global value chains in soft and hard commodities in which it has a comparative advantage, it must necessarily develop forward and backward linkages to the commodity sector for impactful development.

Acting managing director of the bank, Mr Waheed Olagunju, stated this during a media parley in Lagos with the theme: “Sustaining Nigeria’s Industrial Sector Growth through Impactful Partnerships.”

Olagunju, who stressed that achieving high-level sustainable and shared growth requires that the country meets certain imperatives, among which is the centrality of industrialisation, said if the country starts adding value to her natural resource endowments, it would stimulate primary production and processing, meet her local needs and even export and would not need to depend on oil prices which it has no control over.

According to him, the country has reached a critical juncture in its drive for economic transformation and hence needs to translate its current growth momentum into growth that is, broad-based, more resilient to external shocks, and conducive to meaningful job creation, reduction of inequality and poverty as well as overall social development.

He further stated that to  effectively   actualize    the    vision    2020, entrepreneurship  must  become  a  household  name  in  Nigeria, as  white collar jobs that people clamour for are no longer there hence,  micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) becomes a reality as a means of ensuring self-independent employment creation, import substitution, effective and efficient utilisation of local raw materials and contribution to the economic development  of  the country.

The BoI boss noted that the 774 local government areas in the country have natural resources waiting to be exploited.

“We need to propagate commodity-based industrialisation. We need to advocate it a lot. The present administration has also adopted the Nigerian Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP) and NEDEP to boost commodity-based industrialisation strategy by adding value to our natural resource endowments across the country. Unless Nigeria gets it right, Africa cannot make it.


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Child Rights Act: Wake Up Call To Defaulting States Sun, 24 Jul 2016 02:41:16 +0000 HAWKERNigerians have a culture of violence against children. In this report, CHIKA OKEKE examines how the domestication of the Child Rights Act by states would offer a rescue. Miss Martha  Okon (not real name )  was barely 10 years in 2008 when her mother agreed to give her out as a house help to a...]]> HAWKER

Nigerians have a culture of violence against children. In this report, CHIKA OKEKE examines how the domestication of the Child Rights Act by states would offer a rescue.

Miss Martha  Okon (not real name )  was barely 10 years in 2008 when her mother agreed to give her out as a house help to a working class couple in Abuja.

At that age, she was compelled to wake up every 4am to tidy the house after  which she assisted her madam in the kitchen to prepare the children’s breakfast. Her next chore would be to bathe the children ages two and four and prepare them for school.

Thereafter, she would serve their food and feed them. As the children leave for school, the working class couple follows suit leaving behind Okon and her madam’s mother at home.

Okon would  water the flower garden and sweep the compound before retiring back to the kitchen to tidy it. After which she would meal to the grandmother in the house while she still goes on empty stomach.

Okon who was never enrolled even in the cheapest government school was informed by her madam that she would not eat breakfast until she completed the entire house chore inclusive of taking care of granny.

Due to her crowded schedule, Okon ate breakfast around 11am everyday after which she readies to prepare lunch.

She was meant to undergo rigorous housework from morning till night to such an extent that she goes to bed between 11p.m daily.

These also followed series of torture by her madam at the slightest provocation.  She was barred from watching television and in the nightsits in the kitchen until she retires to bed.

The trend continued until a certain morning when Okon developed serious fever and could not wake up early as usual.

Her madam who taught that she was pretending grabbed an iron mopping stick and hit Okon’s head and the girl screamed and fainted.  When she regained consciousness at the hospital bed, she pleaded with the hospital authority not to allow her return to her madam’s house except to her family in Akwa Ibom state.

While Okon was kept in the care of one of the hospital’s matron, the couple were later detained at police custody for violently attacking the house help.

An eye witness who confided in LEADERSHIP Sunday noted that the couple pleaded to pay undisclosed sums of money to Okon’s parents to avoid taking the case to court as threatened by the police.

Recall that in 2003, the federal government adopted the Child Rights Act in domestication of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The Act which seeks to protect the rights of children from abuse has only been passed in 18 states including FCT out of the 36 states of the federation.

They are the South-east states of Anambra, Imo, Abia, and Ebonyi; the South-west states of Oyo, Ogun, Lagos, Ondo, Osun, Ekiti; the North-central states of Kogi, Niger, Benue, Kwara, Plateau, Nasarawa and FCT. And just one North-west  state of Jigawa, and the one South-south state of Akwa Ibom.

The 18 states that are yet to domesticate the Child Rights Act are the North-east states of Taraba, Borno, Bauchi, Adamawa, Gombe, Yobe  and the North-west states of Kaduna, Kebbi, Zamfara, Sokoto, Kano, Katsina. Also are the South-south states of Bayelsa, Cross river, Delta, Edo and Rivers. And the one South-east state of Enugu.

The Act has seen implementations in Lagos, and Akwa Ibom states, and in Plateau that domesticated it in 2005 took a giant step by designating a high court judge as a family court judge that would handle cases of violence against children.

In Nigeria and other West African and Central African countries, thousands of children are trafficked every year.  Sexual violence and rape of minors are rather on the increase irrespective of the scourge of HIV /AIDS.

Forms of violence against children include bullying, intimidation, gun use which is mostly found in developed world , sexual assault, verbal molestation, torture, kidnapping, rape, corporal punishment and among others.

According to psychologists, the consequences of violence against children include brain injuries, bruises, fractures, poor interpersonal relationships and communications, difficulty in learning, emotional problems like anxiety, depression, aggression, attempted suicide, use of drugs , sexual indulgence and health related problems such as HIV /AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI’s).

In 2002, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimated that 150 million girls and 73 million boys under 18 were sexually abused. Also, that about 100 to 140 million  girls and women in the world underwent some forms of female genital mutilation  (FGM).

Globally, out of  218 million children that were victims of child labour,  126 million were involved in dangerous work according to statistics released by International Labour Organisation (ILO) in 2001.

Also that 1.8 million children worked as prostitutes and were involved in ponography even as 1.2 million were caught up in child trafficking.

Given the prevalence of violence against children, the National Population Commission with support from UNICEF and US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention conducted the “Nigeria Violence against Children Survey” in 2015.

The survey which is a population- based study provided the first nationally representative data on the prevalence of sexual, physical and emotional violence among female and male children in Nigeria.

It was discovered that six out of 10 Nigerian children under the age of 18 experienced some forms of physical, emotional and sexual violence before the age of 18.

One in two children experienced physical violence, one in four girls and one in 10 boys experience sexual violence while one in six girls and one in five boys experience emotional violence.

Regrettably, majority of the children never disclosed their predicament even as less than five per cent of victims of violence were denied the needed support for quick recovery from their traumatic experiences.

Nigeria has all along had theNational Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP ) that is largely involved with rescuing, rehabilitating and reintegrating child victims of trafficking as well as prosecuting perpetrators.

NGOs Want Effective Implementation of Child Right Act

Cross section of experts that spoke with LEADERSHIP Sunday pleaded with state governments to fully implement that Act which they believed would enhance the protection of the Nigerian child.

The president of National Council of Child’s Rights Advocates of Nigeria (NACCRAN) FCT chapter, Mrs Margaret Udoh called for the effective implementation of the National Health Act and the passage and implementation of Child Rights Law in the remaining states of Nigeria.

She said violence against children survey, conducted in 2015 suggests that violence against children in Nigeria is linked to poor mental and physical health outcomes for boys and girls in childhood to adulthood.

Udoh further sought the effective implementation of the Universal Basic Education Act with emphasis on getting all girls completing at least Junior Secondary School as well as the implementation of the National Food and Nutrition Policy at all levels in Nigeria.

In her contribution, the head of Child Protection Unit, Save the Children International (SCI), Ms Anne Kpason said SCI was working assiduously to place Nigeria on track for the achievements of all Child related Sustainable Development Goal targets by 2030.

According to her, “SCI is working to ensure a future where every Nigerian child survives, learns and is protected from harm by the year 2030 and we are calling on the three tiers of government, development partners, civil society organisations and non-governmental organisations to take action to end violence against children.

op a robust response plan to findings of the survey on violence against children particularly in Nigeria stressing that traditional and religious leader should be sensitized on the consequences of violence against children in the communities.

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Nigerian Teenage Girl As Endangered Specie Sun, 24 Jul 2016 02:37:34 +0000 TEENAGERGlobally, teenage girls face more challenges than their male counterparts, and most times, these challenges hinder them from realising their potential. In this piece, PATIENCE IVIE IHEJIRIKA takes a look at the plight of teenage girls in Nigeria. The stories of most young girls in Nigeria are usually unpleasant. Many of these girls are forced...]]> TEENAGER

Globally, teenage girls face more challenges than their male counterparts, and most times, these challenges hinder them from realising their potential. In this piece, PATIENCE IVIE IHEJIRIKA takes a look at the plight of teenage girls in Nigeria.

The stories of most young girls in Nigeria are usually unpleasant. Many of these girls are forced to live with memories of ugly experiences that are ordinarily too heavy for them to bear. Practices that make the girl child vulnerable range from female genital mutilation; which in many cases have led to complications like severe bleeding, shock, leakage of urine and faeces or early marriage practices from which stem complications at childbirth for young girls. Some girls have to drop out of school and forced to eke out a living by hawking goods for their families to survive, others through prostitution, selling their bodies to make ends meet because they see no other way out of poverty.

They live with the burden of sad memories daily since they have no other option available to them and are forced to face the ugly condition, jeopardising the potential of most teenage girls, a situation which has forced many to their early graves. The dangers lurking are enormous and real. And it seems like their plight has been overlooked, ignored and pushed aside for too long.

This year, the World Population Day (WPD), with the theme: “Investing in Teenage Girls” was an opportunity for stakeholders to highlight most of the issues confronting teenage girls in the country.

Speaking at the event, the chairman, National Population Commission (NPC), Chief Eze Duruiheoma, revealed that the population of teenage girls in the country has increased from 10,001,965 or 7.2 per cent by 2006 to 13,787, 755 in 2016, while lamenting that majority of the girls live in pitiable condition.

“The condition in which majority of the teenage girls live and the challenges they have to surmount on a daily basis cut a pathetic picture.

“Without education, in poor health and with little or no control over her own body, the future of the teenage girl in the country is imperiled, and her potential may never be realised, he stated.

Duruiheoma recalled that the 2013 Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS), estimated that 23 per cent of women aged between 15-19 years have begun childbearing, of which 17 per cent have had their first child and six per cent pregnant with their first child.

The report showed disparities within the geopolitical zones as follows: Northwest 36 per cent, Northeast 32 per cent, North Central 19 per cent, South-South 12 per cent, South East and South West 8 per cent respectively.

It also hinted that access of the teenage girls to reproductive health services and information was severely limited thereby aggravating cases of unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortion, Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) including HIV.

Duruiheoma also expressed concern over the vulnerability of the teenage girls, saying most of them have been victims of various types of physical violence and abuse including rape, kidnaping, child trafficking and torture.

According to him, the pitiable condition of the teenage girls in the country and the gradual erosion of their potential to live healthy and fulfilled lives are avoidable stains on the collective desire for sustainable development.

The chairman therefore stressed that “we cannot afford to leave the teenage girls in this pitiable condition as this has direct bearings on our ability to improve the wellbeing of the present and future generation.

“Investing in the teenage girls through appropriate policies and legislations that will guarantee their living standard is therefore an absolute necessity. For too long, we have paid lip service to the empowerment of the teenage girls but the time to act is now”.

He maintained that no nation can lay claim to development until its teenagers have equal rights and opportunities to live a healthy life and free from culturally induced attitudes and negative practices that limit their capacities to make meaningful contributions to national development.

“We must resolve to consign into the dustbin of history all practices that deny the teenage girls the opportunity to quantitative and qualitative education, good health care including reproductive health services, protection against sexual abuses, early marriage and trafficking” he said

Representatives of relevant MDAs, international organisations and civil society organisations at the event also submitted that the teenage girl was a vulnerable number of the society and hence the need for stakeholders to stand up for the right of marginalised teenage girls.

They stressed that investing in young girls is not just the right thing to do but the best thing to do for a sustainable nation while calling on government at all levels to implement policies that will protect the right of the girl child.

The stakeholders however identified child marriage as one of the major challenges affecting teenage girl’s investment in the country while calling for effective implementation of the Child Rights Act.

In his 2016 WPD message, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, said “the teenage years are for some girls a time of exploration, learning and increasing autonomy.  But for many others, it is a time of increasing vulnerability and exclusion from rights and opportunities, or just plain discrimination.

“When she has no say in decisions about her education, health, work or even marital status, she may never realize her full potential or become a positive force for transformation in her home, community and nation”.

He therefore called on government to invest in young girls in ways that empower them to make important life decisions.

“Investments are needed to protect their health, including their sexual and reproductive health, to enable them to receive quality education and to expand economic opportunities, including those for decent work” he stated.


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Idai Echie: Festival That Makes Okpella Kingdom Stand Out Sun, 24 Jul 2016 02:35:07 +0000 Untitled-1Unlike other cultural festivals in parts of Afamai land, the Idai Echie festival of the Okpella people in Edo State has remarkable peculiarities that  are deeply rooted in the people’s history and genealogy. Emameh Gabriel writes Down in the far northern part of Edo State, every 20 – 25 years, one peculiar event always captures...]]> Untitled-1

Unlike other cultural festivals in parts of Afamai land, the Idai Echie festival of the Okpella people in Edo State has remarkable peculiarities that  are deeply rooted in the people’s history and genealogy. Emameh Gabriel writes

Down in the far northern part of Edo State, every 20 – 25 years, one peculiar event always captures the attention of visitors in Okpella. In a colourful and spectacular fashion, men,both old and young, dressed in white regalia, walk in procession, with wooden sticks in their hands, chanting and dancing ancestral songs in celebration of their Okpella identity.

The solemn rhythmic chants, the immaculate garb and the procession, all in celebration of their identity and heritage as true descendants of their Okpella progenitor is also a memorial of their migration from the Ancient Benin Kingdom. It is the closest modern day re-enactment of the biblical Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and their grand entry into the Promised Land.

The Idai Echie Festival also doubles as male adolescent initiation festival into adulthood. As the young men called Umars (meaning the world) descend the undulating hills after performing the rites of initiation into the most significant age group (Echie Otu), in front of them would stand an adult with a horse tail. He is the Otaru, the chief priest and custodian of the festival. After the initiation, the umars identified the true and pure breeds of Okpella.

The most significant part of the exercise is that it is a vehicle with which the Okpellas revalidate their Okpella ancestry and family tree. One by one, everyone’s family tree is traced in a bid to validate their indigeneity. It is a rite of identification of the true Okpellas.

The ceremony marking the ascension rites to the hills for the initiation mark the ‘Ida Echie’ festival. To every true born of Okpella, the Ida Echie is the most significant and unifying festival in the kingdom, and occupies a pride of place in the kingdom.

Unlike other festivals in other parts of the Edo speaking communities that are celebrated annually, Ida Echie Festival comes once in every 20-25 years contingent upon a series of considerations, however, the 2016 Ida Echie festival had only 19 years interval from the previous one of 1997.

Echie in Okpella means rock. Echie Otu is the ancestral rock of Okpella, ascended by those certified as qualified in keeping the tradition. They are male indigenes who by established traditional standards, have risen to the Okhoroya Age Grade, the benchmark for identification and initiation. During the initiation rite, each participant would correctly mention at least, three of his ancestors in an ascending order. This is aimed at ascertaining that all such persons have root with Okpea, the founder of Okpella Kingdom who migrated from Benin at about 1481.

To avoid any form of embarrassment, all participants are always expected to do a thorough research on their genealogy before the festival day. These persons are also expected to answer questions from traditional historians whose duty is to authenticate the veracity or otherwise of information about the genealogical claims made by participants.

The origin of the festival and practice can be traced to Ikpea, the son of Ikpomaza, founder of Okpella Kingdom who was believed to have instituted the festival in commemoration of his father. To some twists, Ida Echie has assumed a legislative vehicle in the administration of Okpella Kingdom. In today’s Okpella, it creates  a rendezvous on which new customary laws are made or amended and sometimes existing practices believed to be out of date with today civilization are discarded.

Speaking with LEADERSHIP Sunday, the present Otaru and custodian of Otu Echie festival, Chief Victor Odabor, said “What we have today is a reform from the past to a new order. Our duty is to ensure that we make laws that conform with modern social practices and do away with those once that are rather seen as archaic. For instance, some of the laws we met  that forbids women from remaining in their husbands home after death has been done away with. Women can now live in their late husbands’ house, eat and enjoy what the man left behind for them and their children.” He also added that,

‘‘There was also the case of accident victims who were not given proper burial rites because those days it was believed that Okpellans do not die of accident and as such, accident victims were not allowed to be buried at home and those who died such death are booted down to the grave without coffin, no matter the status of such person in the society.”

While the ascension day to the mountain could be one of excitement for those who descended successfully and their families. on the other hand, it is a day of gloom for those with faulty genealogical backgrounds. According to Chief Richard David, spokesperson of Okpella Traditional Council “It is a day when the chaff are neatly separated from the wheat, it is a day of weeping and gnashing of teeth by some family members and a day of lamentation by some women for marrying the wrong husbands. It is a gloomy day for days for such people. In fact, it could lead to self-exile because where would they put their faces in the land. People had to even relocate as a result.”

In the olden days, those who climbed the ancestral rock for initiation, but failed to trace their origin to an Okpellan parents would not come back. They would be beaten to death for impersonation, while lucky ones would go into self- exile  because of the shame and embarrassment of impersonation.

Another peculiar thing about this festival is that, the Otaru (the chief priest) does not preside over the festival twice in his life time. After presenting one age grade, he should die before another age grade is presented in the kingdom. This is why it takes about two decades interval to celebrate the festival. Even if the Otaru does not die, another Otaru is picked for another Ida Echie. In the olden days, if an Otaru lived up to time the next age grade is to be named, he would be sent to exile where he would remain till he dies.

Asked what he thinks about such law that forbids one Otaru from naming two age groups, Chief Odabor (Otaru) said such is thing of the past today. In his words: ‘‘I think what is obtained today is quite different from what it was before. Though we reserve the right to protect our customs and traditions, when civilizations comes knocking, you have no choice but embrace it. Those days, it was forbidden to see my predecessor but today we both attend meetings and do things together for the interest of the community.

Another peculiarity of the Ida Echie is the challenge of tracing the traditional iron gong and a native chalk of the Kingdom in the forest. These items which are usually cast into the forest during the previous festival, and would have spent over 20 years in the forest where they were abandoned. If this is not found before citing the ninth moon (November), it could delay the date of the festival to more years, until they are found. To find them, however, oracles are consulted and they direct the search.

The rituals of Idai Echie festival are performed at night under the moon. This time, strangers are always advised to stay out of the community during the two active nights when rituals are carried out. Though the restriction has been eased for non-indigenes, they can by no means visit to the ancestral rock.  Photographs are not allowed to be taken at the ancestral shrine, the venue of initiation,  and it is also a taboo to speak any dialect or language order than Okpella at the shrine.

Refusal by any indigene to partake in the identification and other rituals of the festival  according to Chief David, would directly be interpreted to mean that such person has no ancestral link with Ikpomaza, the founder of Okpella.


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In Rivers, It’s One Week, One Protest Sun, 24 Jul 2016 02:32:21 +0000 PROTESTIn this report, ANAYO ONUKWUgHA writes on the series of protests by residents and members of civil society organisations over the planned demolition of waterfront areas by the Rivers state government One thing that can obviously cause a state of lawlessness and disorder in a nation is varied protests. Another thing that can be so...]]> PROTEST

In this report, ANAYO ONUKWUgHA writes on the series of protests by residents and members of civil society organisations over the planned demolition of waterfront areas by the Rivers state government

One thing that can obviously cause a state of lawlessness and disorder in a nation is varied protests. Another thing that can be so destabilizing is when a resident wake to receive a quit notice from a government to vacate his home. This can be more troublesome especially when the residents had not planned to quit and or given prior notice of vacation order.

In Rivers state, it has become a centre for all manner of protests by individuals and groups who felt aggrieved by the planned demolition of the waterfront areas by the state government. The protesters are not comfortable with the action taken by the Governor Ezebunwo Nyesom Wike-led administration.

The state government had on Friday, July 15, 2016, issued a seven day quit notice to residents of shanty buildings at Elechi Beach and some other waterfront areas in Port Harcourt, saying the affected residents should vacate the places on or before Thursday, July 21, 2016.

The decision of the state government sparked crisis as scores of residents of the communities that are marked for demolition embarked on serial protests to register their grievances, as well as prompt the state government to reverse the decision.

The affected waterfront areas include Urualla, Ojike, Okwuzu, Afikpo, Abba, Nanka, Emenike, Akokwa, Egede, Timber, Echue and Obidianso,  as well as water-log areas at the shanty areas located in the Rivers State University of Science and Technology, at the Diobu axis of Port Harcourt.

To majority of the protesters, who claimed to have lived in the water front areas for 40 years, the quit notice given to them by the state government was uncharitable because, according to them, they should have been allowed to live in the places till December 2016 to enable them more time and prepare fully to relocate to other places.

But the state commissioner for Urban Development and Physical Planning, Hon. Chinyere Igwe, declared in a press statement that the seven-day ultimatum given to the affected residents was to allow security agents cope with the high rate of criminality in the areas.

He said the reason for the demolition was because crime was thriving in the places.

Igwe however, stated that anyone found in those places after the expiration of the seven days notice shall face the consequences. At the moment, the protests have become a daily occurrence in the state.

Although the police and other security agencies have being on ground to avert any breach of law and order. For a protesting group, the Alliance for Transparency and Good Governance (ATGG) and its members, protest is the only way they can send their demands to government.

They had marched through the major roads of Port harcourt but the protesters could not proceed beyond the popular UTC Junction, a lead way to Government House because anti-riot policemen dispersed them with tear-gas canisters.

Speaking, the coordinator of the group, Engr. Erasmus Obele Nwankpa alleged that the demolition was a witch-hunt because Governor Wike was targeting the Ijaw community in the seven-day quit notice handed down to residents of waterfronts areas.

According to Nwankpa, the planned demolition is highly condemnable and  described it as “unwarranted demolition and destruction of properties of innocent citizens of the state.” He said the protest was propelled by the outcry of the citizens and residents of the state.

“We do not have anywhere to go and that it is the duty of government to protect lives and property of its law-abiding citizens. If Governor Wike claim that the demolition is targeted at cultists or militants, there are enough of such persons at Omoku, Ahoada East and West, Emohua and Ikwerre LGAs, Ogoni axis, Buguma, Degema, Etche, just to mention but a few.

“In fact, if government meant to eradicate militancy, he should start with his political house and stop moving about with known cultists who have taken over property abandoned as a result of cult activities in their areas,” he stated.

Another protest occurred when thousands of protesters took over the Rivers State High Court complex and Rivers State House of Assembly complex. This time, they were demanding the swearing-in of two members of the House of Assembly, who were elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).The members are Victoria Nyeche, representing Port Harcourt Constituency I and Andrew Anderson Miller, representing Opobo/Nkoro Constituency respectively.

The protesters barricaded the gates of the State High Court complex and the state assembly. It disrupted officials duties in the places as legal luminaries and state lawmakers could not come to work for fear of being molested by angry mob.

The protesting youths, including men and women carried placards which read, “Justice Laminkanra, you are a disgrace to the law profession”, “Justice Enebeli, you are corrupt”, “We say no to compromised judiciary”, “Rivers State House of Assembly is a lawless place” and among others.

Also, hundreds of Ogoni youths staged a peaceful protest in Boro, headquarters of Khana local government area of the state. They were demanding the upgrading of the State College of Arts and Science (RIVCAS), Rumuola, Port Harcourt to a fully accredited polytechnic.

This was sequel to the signing into law by Governor Wike, a bill recently passed by the state House of Assembly, to upgrade a Diploma-awarding college in Port Harcourt to Port Harcourt Polytechnic.

As usual, the protesters comprising women and children, led by the coordinator of Ken Saro-Wiwa Associates (KSWA), Chief Gani Topba who had gathered at the popularly Zaakpon Junction in Boro at as early as

Speaking to newsmen, Topba, explained that people of Ogoni were unhappy because the Wike-led administration “has a grand plan to develop the new Port Harcourt Polytechnic into a world class polytechnic while neglecting the Kenule Beeson Saro-Wiwa Polytechnic, located in Bori, thereby destroying the socio-economic development ofthe people of Ogoniland.”

As if the protests were planned to follow each other, after the Ogoni protest, hundreds of civil society activists under the aegis of Coalition of Civil Society Organizations (CSCO) staged a protest march to the Port Harcourt Maximum Prisons, where a chieftain of the APC, Hon. Ojukaye Flag-Amachree was being detained.

Flag-Amachree, a former chairman of Asari-Toru local government area of the state was standing trial before Justice Margaret Opara for alleged murder of one Smart Soberekon in 2015.

The protesters, who marched through major streets in Port Harcourt before heading to the Prisons. Some of the placards carried by the protesters read, “Ojukaye Deserves Justice”, “Laminkanra is a

Politician”, “Ojukaye is innocent”, “Wike is afraid of Ojukaye” and “NJC, save Rivers Judiciary,” amongst others.

As it stand, the affected residents of the waterfront areas bid for demolition have maintained a definite stand that they would not vacate the places because the time permitted them to quit, by the state government was adversely not enough for them to prepare properly.

The protesters have vowed not to pave the way for peace unless government respond to their demands and this is greatly hampering the peace in the state with analysts asserting that if the serial protest is not carefully handled, it may throw the entire state into anarchy.



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