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Xenophobia: African Commission takes new action

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Ms Soyata Maiga, Chairperson, African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights has agreed to “take appropriate action” on request by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) asking the commission to “submit a case on the escalating xenophobic attacks against Nigerians and other African citizens in the country to the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights and to seek an effective remedy and reparation for Nigerian victims.”

SERAP had in its letter to Ms Maiga last Friday stated that “these xenophobic attacks constitute serious violations of the human rights of Nigerians and other African citizens in South Africa.” The organization also urged the commission to “seek in the case to the African Court, punitive damages and adequate compensation of $10 billion (USD) on behalf of hundreds of Nigerian victims and their families. This amount will sufficiently take into account individual harm suffered by victims.”

In an email response to SERAP on Monday, Maiga said: “Thank you for your open letter requesting our commission to take action to the court. I have just shared the letter with Ms Jamesina Essie King, the Chair of the Working Group on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, for follow-up and appropriate action.”

Responding to Maiga’s email, SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, said: “Thank you very much for your email and quick response to our request. We really appreciate your commitment to human rights in Africa, and the indication and assurance that the commission will take action on this very important matter, and to address the grave human rights violations of Nigerians in South Africa. Please let us know if you have any questions or need any further information.”

Oluwadare also said: “The fact that a preeminent African human rights body has decided to take action on the matter shows the commission’s willingness to stand up for the human rights of Nigerians and other foreign nationals in South Africa, and to become more responsive to rights holders and victims.”

“This will put massive pressure on the South African authorities and pollical leaders to uphold the highest standards in the protection of human rights of Nigerians and end their political rhetoric and incitement to hatred, violence and discrimination.”

It would be called that SERAP had in its letter to the commission dated 6 September 2019 said: “This is a key moment for the commission to push to protect the human rights of the victims. The commission ought to make it clear to the South African authorities that the victims of the heinous crimes have a right to an effective remedy and reparation, which includes restitution, compensation, rehabilitation, satisfaction and guarantees of non-repetition.”

The organization also said: “For the sake of the victims, the commission should move swiftly on the matter to prevent further harm to Nigerians and other foreign nationals in the country. Unlike for individuals and NGOs, the African Court Protocol does not require Nigeria to have made the declaration under Article 34(6) for the commission to submit a case on behalf of the Nigerian victims before the Court.”

The open letter read in part: “If the victims see that a process for ensuring adequate compensation for the crimes committed against them in South Africa is underway, it will also discourage revenge violence and killings and help break the cycle of violence that is now spiralling beyond control in the country.”

“Over 200 Nigerians have been reportedly killed since 2008, several more have been displaced from their homes while more than 300 Nigerians have registered for evacuation from South Africa. Shops and businesses by Nigerians have been looted or destroyed, and high-ranking political leaders have deliberately fuelled the attacks and violence.”

“The impact of the violence and attacks on Nigerian women and children has been devastating, as children have been unable to attend school due to fear of attacks. Many Nigerians are now relocating their wives and children to Nigeria while they stay back to work in South Africa.”

“In February 2017, parents reported that xenophobic prejudice was being extended to local schools. For example, the Eastleigh Primary School in Edenvale, Gauteng threatened to refuse the children of foreign nationals access to education. In May 2008, more than 60 people were killed, more than 600 injured and over 20,000 people were displaced in the Gauteng and Western Cape Provinces.”

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Ikpeazu beats Otti at tribunal

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The three-man panel of the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Umuahia, the Abia State capital, and chaired by Justice A.L. Ogumoye, has dismissed the petition filed by 2019 APGA gubernatorial candidate, Dr. Alex Otti against the declaration of Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu.

The tribunal ruled that the petitioner failed to prove the case of over-voting, non-compliance to the INEC election guideline and electoral act.

Recall that Alex Otti had asked the tribunal to cancel fifteen out of the seventeen local government areas’ election results in Abia State.

Otti claimed that the respondents, PDP, and Governor Okezie Ikpeazu who was the governorship candidate of PDP perpetrated excessive malpractice in those LGAs in the last March 9, 2019, election conducted in the state.

More coming…

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34,000 teenagers to face acute malnutrition in Taraba – UNICEF

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The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has affirmed that over 34,000 children in Taraba would face acute malnutrition if serious measures were not taken immediately to save the situation.

Bhanu Pathak, Chief of Field Office, UNICEF Nigeria, Bauchi Field Office, raised the alarm during a courtesy call on Governor Darius Ishaku on Thursday in Jalingo.

“Currently, Taraba has an estimated 34,419 severe acute malnutrition cases.

“With no health facility to provide treatment, these children will be at risk of dying, if the government does not intervene appropriately and timely.

“Many children who might survive malnutrition in early life are condemned to permanent physical and intellectual disabilities in later life.

“Thus, productivity of the future leaders of the state will be adversely affected,” he said.

Mr Pathak also disclosed that more than 75,000 children under five years were yet to be fully immunised from polio and other child-killer diseases and urged the state government to step up actions to address the issues.

“The UNICEF is also worried that over 75,000 children in the state are not yet fully immunised while over 500,000 children of school age are out of school.

“This is further complicated because of the insurgency in the region which has turned Taraba to a home for most of the people fleeing.

“The internal wrangling has added to the problem.

“We, therefore, urge the state government to step up actions to address these challenges.”

He commended the governor for his commitment to the improvement of health and quality education of children in the state and for attending to the plight of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).

Mr Pathak, however, said that there was so much needed to be done with more commitment from the state government.

Responding, Governor Ishaku said the state was “immensely grateful to UNICEF for the various interventions in key areas of education, health, nutrition, child protection and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH).“

Ishaku said the state government had made tremendous efforts and recorded great success in the provision of health services, education and the general well being of mothers and children.

The governor said he is overwhelmed by the challenges posed by the IDPs.

“We have done remarkably well and have recorded great improvement in the provision of quality education and health care services to the people.

“But we have challenges and we need your assistance to deal with the plight of IDPs and the refugees we have coming in from Cameroon.

“I have directed that they should be properly taken care of but we need more assistance to address some of these issues.

“We had hoped to have all our children in school by now but the crisis has affected our plans, “he said.

Ishaku reassured that the government would not relent as it had great plans for children.

“Let me once again thank UNICEF and other partnering agencies for their interests in Taraba.

“I assure you that my government will welcome any intervention for the good of our people and we will always pay our counterpart funds promptly”.

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Nigerian governors give condition for N614bn bailout repayment

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The 36 Governors across the country have demanded a reconciliation of accounts before repaying the N614 billion bailout fund granted to them by the federal government.

They want the bailout support to be reconciled with debts that the federal government allegedly owes states.

Many of such debts involve amounts used to repair federal roads by state governments.

The governors made the demand at the end of a meeting of the Nigerian Governors Forum held late Wednesday in Abuja.

The federal government gave the conditional budget support facility to 35 states through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in 2017.

The loans granted to enable states to meet their financial obligations to civil servants and pensioners were provided at a nine per cent interest rate, with a grace period of two years.

With the expiration of the grace period last week, the federal government announced that it will in the next two weeks commence the deduction from statutory allocations to the states.

Before the announcement, TIMELY POST reported how state governors were lobbying to delay the repayment of the loan.

As the lobby appeared to have failed, the governors agreed to make the refund on a condition.

At Wednesday’s NGF meeting, the Chairman of the forum, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, said governors will repay the loans only after proper reconciliation of the accounts.

“If you borrow, you pay. Governors have never been averse to payment of loans that we took under legal environment and we don’t want a situation that our banking system and financial system will be in any jeopardy.

“However, governors believe that just as we are ready to pay, we also have a duty to ensure reconciliation of account as far as money owed to states may be concerned. That is the process that is ongoing,” Mr Fayemi noted.

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, had at the Public Consultation Forum on the Draft 2020-2022 Medium Term Expenditure Framework in Abuja last week said the repayment will be taken from the affected states’ allocations during the next Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) meeting later this month.

She said the refund is not going to be treated as revenue to be used to fund the 2020 budget.

It was a credit that was advanced by the Central Bank of Nigeria to the states, the minister said.

“We will deduct direct at source and remit to the CBN,” she noted.

Reading a communiqué issued after the over three hours meeting of the governors, Mr Fayemi said the governors will continue to collaborate with journalists, especially on the issues of security as they work in hostile environments.

He said the forum received a presentation from the Nigeria Meteorological Agency advising that the country should expect above average rainfall which had already resulted in severe flooding in several states.

The forum also listened to a presentation by the Transmission Company of Nigeria, which highlighted the issues around inadequate transmission and sought the governors’ commitment to improving the power situation in the country.

The Forum resolved to partner TCN to improve power supply nationwide.

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