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LUKE ENCOURAGES HUMAN RIGHTS PROTECTION WHILE ADMINISTERING CRIMINAL JUSTICE

LUKE CALLS FOR GREATER PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN ADMINISTRATION OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE

…Advocate abolition of parading of suspects in media by security agencies

…Condemns siege of the residence of Justice Mary Peter-Odili

Chairman, House Committee on Judiciary, Mr Onofiok Luke, has called for greater protection of human rights of citizens in administration of criminal justice in Nigeria and the abolition of public parading of suspects in the media. Luke stated this at the Expert Review Meeting on the proposed amendments to the Administration of Criminal Justice Administration Act, 2015 organized by the Center for Socio-Legal Studies (CSLS) in Abuja.

“Of major concern to me is the issue of investigation, arrest and detention of suspects because they bear directly on the human rights of citizens. These areas leave much discretion to law enforcement agencies. It seems as if in Nigeria this discretion is abused by not being exercised properly and fairly. It is sometimes tended to be exercised in a punitive manner by law enforcement agencies. It is important that proper investigation be carried out before arrest. Suspects should not be unnecessarily detained; where they are arrested, they should be charged to court immediately except special circumstances warrant immediate arrest and detention of suspects, for instance, in cases of violence or threat of violence. Since we cannot totally leave this issue to the discretion of law enforcement agencies, there is need to state specifically how investigation should be carried out, circumstances that will warrant arrest to be made and when to detain suspects”, Luke stated.

On the need to abolish public parading of suspect in the media, Luke noted that the proposed section 15(2) to the ACJA merely charges the police to try as much as possible to refrain from parading suspects in the media. He said that “parading of suspects in the media should be totally abolished. This will go in sync with judicial thinking that the exercise is unlawful. However, if the law enforcement agencies have good and convincing excuse for parading of suspects in the media, such exercise should only be executed with court’s prior permission.”

Luke, who condemned the siege on Justice Mary Peter-Odili, a Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, by security agents, observed that the action was a major setback to the attainment of judicial independence and a further blot on the nation’s democratic credentials. He recommended a review of the process of application and issuance of search warrant in order to weed out abuse.

Luke thanked CSLS and other stakeholders in the justice sector spearheading the amendments to the Act for their commitment to finding lasting solution to the perennial problems of criminal justice administration in Nigeria and stated the readiness of the House of Representatives to give legislative backing to the amendments when forwarded to the House.

The meeting had in attendance Hon. Justice A. J. Kutigi, Hon. Justice O. A. Adeniyi both of the FCT High Court, Prof. Yemi Akinseye- George, SAN , President of CSLS, Dr. A. F. Afolayan of the Nigerian Law School, Mrs Bamidele Akinseye-George, Executive Director of CSLS, A. T. Kehinde, SAN and others.

2023: ONOFIOK LUKE CHARGES PR MGRs TO ADVOCATE FOR CREDIBLE LEADERS 

2023: ONOFIOK LUKE CHARGES PR MGRs TO ADVOCATE FOR CREDIBLE LEADERS

The member representing Etinan/Nsit Ibom/Nsit Ubium Federal Constituency in the Green Chamber of the National Assembly, Barr. Onofiok Luke has reiterated the need for Public Relation Managers as image makers to advocate for credible leaders as next election process commences.

He said this while presenting a PR Lecture as a Special Guest during the monthly meeting of the Akwa Ibom State Chapter of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) at Image House, Uyo on Thursday.

Addressing members of the Institute and other attendees via Google Meet during the October session, Barr. Luke who lectured on the topic: “the Role of PR in Governance, National Integration, Peace and Security,” said it was imperative for Nigerians to pursue things that will integrate and unite the people more than ever.

“There could have been no better profession to properly champion this course than the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations. As we begin another leadership recruitment process, this revered Institute must look beyond helping to stem the tide of problems facing the country and its people to being in the forefront of driving conversations that will rebuild trust, stimulate mutual coexistence, address the issue of marginalization and advocate unity.”

Luke said governance, national integration, peace, unity and security are inextricably tied to each other and that achieving them would be easier if certain issues that have formed the fundamentals of agitations within the Nigerian states are resolved using the platform that NIPR has offered.

“The NIPR platform is a very credible and non-partisan platform that promotes excellence in relationship building, reconciliation and so on. So, in setting the agenda for leadership recruitment, NIPR must be committed to making Nigerians united, viral, strong and formidable. Just like Akwa Ibom State has taken the centre stage in the comity of states, Nigeria has the potentiality of emerging as a foremost nation of the world.”

In recruiting leaders that will drive the Nigeria Project, the national lawmaker said “emphasis should be placed on persons with tested record of public or private sector, stellar performance, intellectual acumen and on one with a good heart for service to the people.”

As a memorial, Barrister Luke made a donation of N1million in honour of the pioneer Chapter Chairman of the Institute, Mr. Okon W. Udoh, and appealed that the money be used for PR Quiz Competitions amongst Secondary School Students in the state.

In his remarks, the Chapter Chairman of the Institute, Mr. Nsemeke Akpan, expressed appreciation to the national lawmaker, whom he described as a friend and a brother.

Mr. Akpan further said “today’s PR Lecture by Barrister Onofiok Luke will remain indelible in our hearts. You have given the Chapter another perspective to Public Relations, one that has instilled in us a great hope. You shall forever remain in our debt.”

Some of the people that attended the PR Lecture included Chief Isong Akpabio; Akparawa Okon Imerh; Mrs. Elsie Udofia; Prof Des Wilson; the State Commissioner for Special Duties, Rt. Hon. Okpolupm Etteh; Zonal Coordinator of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board, Mr. Uduak Obot; the Police Public Relations Officer, SP Odiko MacDon; Dr Unwana Charles of the Akwa Ibom State Polytechnic; Obong Kingsley Peters, Barrister Omen Bassey among others.

ACA HOLDS SOLEMN ASSEMBLY, PRAYS AGAINST EVIL CONSPIRACY AHEAD OF 2023

ACA HOLDS SOLEMN ASSEMBLY, PRAYS AGAINST EVIL CONSPIRACY AHEAD OF 2023

The Akwa Ibom Christian Assembly, ACA, on Wednesday, prayed for God’s divine intervention on account of the preparations for the 2023 governorship election in Akwa Ibom State.

The intercessory prayers held at Destiny International Missions, Uyo, was led by the President of Akwa Ibom Christian Assembly, Archbishop Cletus Bassey.

Senior pastors from across the state, and a mammoth crowd of believers who are also members of ACA from the 31 local government chapters in the state attended the prayer meeting.

Prominent among pastors who graced the occasion are the Rev Ntia Ntia of Full Life Christian Center, Apostle Nyeneime Andy of Holy Ghost Ambassadors, Bishop Emmanuel Ekoi, Rev Angela Ashong, Apostles Gabriel Thomas, Steve David, and Rufus Willie; Bishop Aniekan Lawrence and Bishop Awasiakan Otong of Christ Faith Church, among many others.

Archbishop Cletus Bassey said that the spiritual exercise was convened to intercede on behalf Akwa Ibom State against every gathering of satanic politicians and religious selfish people who would not want peace to reign in the state preparatory to the 2023 elections.

According to him, 2023 would be a time for the righteous to takeover leadership positions in the state in accordance with God’s divine mandate for service.

The Archbishop prayed for Governor Udom Emmanuel’s successor, asking God to give Akwa Ibom a Governor in 2023 that would continue with the prevailing peace and development of the state and take it to greater heights.

Archbishop Bassey in his prayer also asked God to preserve Governor Udom Emmanuel, and “let his eyes be opened boldly onto God, and let his ears hear only what God says concerning who the successor will be”.

Members of the assembly, in their prayers, declared that any power that would compete with the power of God, or contend with His rulership, would not stand in Akwa Ibom.

Also speaking, Rev Ntia of Full Life Christian Center said that those who have sworn to any oath for the purpose of attaining leadership positions would fail.

For those who have amassed wealth for the purpose of using same to buy their way through during the forthcoming election, the assembly members prayed that such monies would perish with them.

The theme of the prayer meeting was “Establishing God’s Rulership Upon Our Land”. It also featured praise and worship sessions by praise teams from Destiny International Missions, Insight Bible Church, Holy ghost ambassadors and God’s Ambassadors Ministries, among others.

Participants who spoke with correspondents shortly after the meeting expressed the believe that “when the people of God come together to pray and speak over their state and nation, God will intervene”.

© Source: Itoro Bassey

NSUKKA AND UDOM EMMANUEL’S GRAND VISION

NSUKKA AND UDOM EMMANUEL’S GRAND VISION

UDEME NANA

Earlier this month, precisely on Thursday, 7th October, this writer joined the entourage of Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State to the University of Nigeria, where the Governor delivered the 2021 Founder’s Day Lecture. The other great ‘Lion’ in the delegation was Nigeria’s former Ambassador to Russia, Chief Assam Assam who had also served Akwa Ibom State as the Attorney – General and Commissioner for Justice. The Founder’s Day was to mark the spectacular contributions of the great statesman, the late Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe to the establishment of the University of Nigeria. The legendary University exists as a counterpoise against the current agitation by some Igbo youths to cut ties with a country for which the great Zik of Africa, their iconic son, who set it up, lived and died.

One does not know why the Governor of Akwa Ibom State was picked as this year’s guest speaker on such an auspicious occasion. He isn’t an Alumnus. And therefore not a great Lion. He is an Akokite. As one journeyed through the meandering road towards Nsukka and into the lush greens of that citadel of learning, one wondered if the Vice Chancellor and his team had known that the celebrated Zik of Africa was, in the 1920’s, a mentee of the late Chief Nyong Essien, a respected Akwa Ibom titan, who was the pioneer Chairman of the Eastern Nigeria Council of Chiefs and the Nsom of Uruan in the Ibibio heartland of Akwa Ibom State. There is a possibility that the Governor was properly briefed because he was accompanied by his Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Hon. Frank Archibong on the trip.

One imagined the organizers had remembered that the first Head of Government, then known as Leader of Government Business, in the Eastern region was another distinguished Akwa Ibom indigene and a leading intellectual of that era , the late Professor Eyo Ita from Ibeno. Yes, there are memories of Dr. Ibanga Udo Akpabio who had served as Secretary – General of the defunct Ibibio state Union and a Minister in the Eastern regional Government who moved the motion for the establishment of the University. Even the symbol of the Institution, the Lion, which stands in a menacing poise at the erstwhile main entrance into the University reflects the contribution of another AkwaIbomite as it was chiseled professionally by an Akwa Ibom sculptor, Dr. Uko Akpaide who, incidentally, taught my father when today’s old men were struggling boys in elementary school. Akwa Ibom is also one of the catchment areas of the University, a circumstance which gives advantage to applicants for admission into the school from the state. It would be nice, in addition, to have indigenes of the state enjoy such favourable consideration in employment opportunities. After all, Akwa Ibom was part of the oil – palm belt, the golden goose at that time, which exploitation generated resources to fund the building of the University. So much for some of the vital links between Akwa Ibom and the first indigenous University in Nigeria.

Governor Udom Emmanuel seized the moment to present a case study on how he has changed the narrative of development through infrastructure and Industrialisation in Akwa Ibom, ‘that was once a civil service state’.

According to the Governor, who held the audience spell bound in his characteristic oratory : “ shortly after I was sworn in, fully conscious of where we were going, I set up a Technical Committee on Foreign Direct Investment and charged them to go all out and sell our state, our areas of comparative advantage and ensure that through Industrialisation, we would expand the opportunities of growth for our people “

The Governor, having been properly robed in the requisite academic gown temporarily became a ‘great lion’, gained confidence and turned professorial. He taught his captive students that ‘the key drivers of Industrialisation were the quality of infrastructure on ground and of course, peace and security since investors will not go to a place that is unsafe and insecure” This explains his ‘Maintain Peace Movement’. It was telling that the Secretary – General of the Group, Prince Enobong Uwah was in the flight. Does anyone out there still have issues with Governor Emmanuel’s deep concern for a peaceful environment?

No doubt, there is a correlation between a peaceful and more secure environment and influx of investors into any location. Any wonder then that Uyo, the state capital, once a sleepy city, is no longer a dull place as it welcomes and hosts business people who fly in to stay, cut deals and savour the hospitable location and its array of delicious cuisines.

Another sector which the present government has changed the narrative is Aviation through Ibom Air even though critics continue to ask questions about the ownership structure of the Airline. Nevertheless, Mr. Udom Emmanuel roared “Ibom Air, has become a national sensation, flying the colours of Akwa Ibom within the Nigerian Aviation space and dominating it, a mere two years after its maiden commercial flight’
Indeed, Ibom Air, one of the flagship success stories of Governor Emmanuel operates from the only airport in Nigeria, arguably, with specifications where two aeroplanes can take off at the same time. It is important to underscore that the airline is just one aspect of the business operations plan of the Airport. The Airport in Uyo is a potentially Maintain, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) hub with prospects for job creation, more investments and ancillary businesses. Ultimately, the entire environment around the Airport would become a city with profitable services around it.

The Governor used the podium at Nsukka to repeat his grand vision which a lot of politicians in his state do not seem to see. He noted “ as I always say, it is good for a 21st century leader, to have a broad vision and the requisite exposure to international best practices. What do I mean by that?

He stated ‘your vision is a product of your exposure, what you have seen elsewhere, how those things work and how they can be applied in your local environment to the benefit of the people is a lived experience and not a learned one” Have those throwing mud at ‘Fathers of Faith’ and blackmailing the Governor’s immediate family and other religious leaders concerning the Governor’s succession plan heard that? Which leader would accomplish so much and not want such accomplishments and legacies sustained through a deliberate succession agenda?

Since most Akwa Ibom politicians were not at Nsukka to hear the Governor twice on his mindset about his succession, it would suffice to re – echo Governor Udom Emmanuel’s loud and clear pronouncement on the occasion of the 6th Anniversary of his Administration on the issue, ‘let me now ask you my dear Akwa Ibomites : Do you want a successor who will cancel out all the great strides in industrialization we have started? The peace we currently enjoy and return us to the years when violence and kidnapping reigned and sowed fear in the hearts and minds of the people? Do you want a successor who will come with anger towards all we have done, as opposed to continuing with the great works we have started? Do you want a leader whose approach to testing his popularity would be to drive in a long convoy to “Ibom Plaza” and throw money at the hapless people, watching them scramble for the money and the people would say that’s “Ano owo Mkpo”! Is that the kind of a successor you want? Is that the kind of empowerment our people deserve? Someone who will bring out the worst in our youths rather than challenge them to seize the future and unleash their potentials? Do you want a successor who will relegate God to the background and assume an all-knowing power? Or do you desire a successor with a known e-mail address that the International business community recognises? Do you want a leader who will fritter away our commonwealth in search of cheap popularity or one who would utilize the resources and continue investing in projects with enduring value? Do you want a successor who would see Government as a cabal where our commonwealth would be shared among a privileged few or do you desire a leader who would continue to unleash the entrepreneurial spirit of our people, a successor who understands the economic dynamics that shape our globalized space and would utilize those skills to advance our well-being? These are questions you have to provide answers, and the answers you provide would determine the type of a successor you deserve.

‘Mark my words, we will not return to the type of leadership that is big on noise and small in the execution of the big picture items. We will never go backward on the peace in our land, the steady and focused developments we have started. The line in our State anthem has made this faith manifestly clear: Forward ever and backward never!’

On that occasion, he had also declared :
‘My dear Akwa Ibomites, if what you are desiring is a successor who will not have the capacity and the discipline to build a State where you and your children will live in peace and strive to excel, if you are desiring a successor who will turn back the clock of our developmental strides, if you are desiring a successor who will bring out the worst in our youths as opposed to galvanizing their energies and challenging them to be the best they can be, if you are desiring a leader who would not efficiently utilize the resources of this State on projects that have redeeming value then I am sorry to disappoint you, God will not give us such a successor.’

He had laid emphasis on the point when he further noted :
‘We have gone too far ahead to retreat backward. So as you are engaging in prognostications, creating camps of loyalty and getting consumed by who you think my successor would be, always bear these thoughts in your mind’

That sums up Governor Udom Emmanuel’s splendid vision ; well written and laid out, brilliantly, stated clearly in unmistakable terms and spoken boldly within and outside the state. QED!

Dr. UDEME NANA, a Media Scholar is the Founder of Uyo Book Club.

ONOFIOK LUKE RECEIVES MEMBERS OF NIGERIAN GUILD OF EDITORS A’IBOM

ONOFIOK LUKE RECEIVES MEMBERS OF NIGERIAN GUILD OF EDITORS A’IBOM

Members of Nigerian Guild of Editors based in Akwa Ibom State today paid a courtesy visit to the member representing Etinan/Nsit Ibom/ Nsit Ubium Federal Constituency, Mr Onofiok Luke in his office in Abuja.

Speaking, the state co-ordinator, Mr. Ikpong Essien-Udom said the group decided to visit the member to interact with him given his effective representation of the people in the green chamber.

In his response, Mr Luke thanked the group for finding time to visit him and for also projecting his work and activities in the House. He also thanked the members for the support they have been giving to Governor Udom Emmanuel. ‘Thank you for what you are doing to support Governor Udom Emmanuel. Thank you for doing everything to sustain the legacies of the Governor’, Luke said.

The lawmaker further informed the group of his purpose in the lower House. ‘I came to the House with key legislative areas – Healthcare, Education, Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and Community Development – in mind, and I have been working to meet these objectives for the greater benefits of the people of my Constituency.’

According to Luke; ‘The pen profession has an important role to play in governance, so I charge you to set narrative and standards as basis to assess governance and leadership recruitment in the state’.

The members of the group thanked the Luke for making out time to see them and commended him for being outstanding in the House.

The state co-ordinator of the group was joined in the visit by Samuel Etuk, Fortune Archibong, Samuel Akpan, Cornel Esen and Oto Ikpe.

 

NGO SAYS FUND DIVERSION SLOWS DEV IN RURAL COMMUNITIES

FUND DIVERSION CAUSES SLOW-PACED DEVELOPMENT IN AKWA IBOM COMMUNITIES- NGO SURVEY REVEALS

A Non Governmental Organization, Accountability Lab Nigeria, has claimed that samples collected in Upenekang Community, Ibeno Local Government Area and Uquo community in Esit Eket Local Government Area indicated that reasons for slow-paced development in these communities are due to diversion of funds meant for development of these areas by Government Officials.

Program and Learning Manager of the Organization, Ehi Grace stated this on Thursday, during a Community Town Hall meeting to discuss findings from the Civic Acts Community Survey in Upenekang and Uquo in Ibeno and Esit Eket LGAs respectively.

Ehi explained that the claim was based on research findings by the NGO in collaboration with Ford Foundation, a Non Governmental Organization.

According to her, “the Civic Action Team Project which is geared towards collecting critical information from communities to solve daily problems for marginalised Citizens as well as strengthen the communities’ ability to self advocate ,will help to end impunity within Government by building accountability and improve decision making processes through citizens engagement and inclusion.

Cross section of participants during the town hall meeting recently. 

“Our primary objective is to ensure communities in the Niger Delta have an improved understanding of their rights and is better equipped to advocate for improved policies in Public and Private decision making spaces, hence, critical data was collected from communities on what is their challenges, when solving daily problems for marginalised Citizens.” Ehi stated.

Furthering, she said that key findings from the survey sample shows that community members have been marginalised from Government programs and projects such as, access to free education, Health Care, Clean Water, Good road network, food and subsidized agro materials.

Some of the findings reads, “the very primary need of the project focal communities is electricity.

“There is no equality and fairness with regards to Government appointments,jobs , projects allocation in sampled communities.

“Majority of community members are aware that they can play an active role in holding elected Representatives accountable through effective citizens participation.

“There is no form of cordial relationship between elected Representatives and community members as some do not stay in the communities nor visit often , hence are not aware of their challenges.

Particopants at the meeting.

“Access to information is a key factor preventing women , youth and persons with disabilities from engaging in decision making processes.”

Based on the findings, the Organization recommended developing a social contract policy between Government Stakeholders and the communities, noting that it would impact positively on the communities.

UBC EXPECTS OVER 700 DELEGATES IN MAIDEN NATIONAL BOOK CONFERENCE

UBC EXPECTS OVER 700 DELEGATES IN MAIDEN NATIONAL BOOK CONFERENCE

The Uyo Book Club expects no number less than 700 delegates as she plays host to the first ever National Book Clubs and Reading Promoters Conference happening in the city of Uyo this week, Thursday, September 16, 2021 through Saturday, September 18, 2021.

This was disclosed on Tuesday during a press brief by the Local Organising Committee of the Club as part of activities heralding the first ever Book Fiesta in Nigeria.

According to the Chairman of the Local Organising Committee and Patron of Uyo Book Club, Hon. Ekong Sampson, said, the conference will help to re-engineer reading sensibility and promote reading culture which is on a decline.

“The approval is a signpost recognition of the conducive, peaceful and intellectual environment in Akwa Ibom state and is organized to draw attention on the need to reawaken the reading culture in our society. This is done conscious of the fact that we must use the book to fight ignorance and superstition, two weaknesses that have held Africa down.”

He also said the Network of Book Clubs and Reading Promoters in Nigeria choose the city of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State to host its first ever Book Conference due to the peaceful and intellect ambience of the state.

“We are delighted to inform you and indeed the entire world that the Network of Book Clubs and Reading Promoters in Nigeria has approved Uyo to host its first ever National Conference.

He added that “Nigeria can be reinvented if we turn to the book.”

The Founder of Uyo Book Club, Dr. Udeme Nana said the philosophy of the club includes sharpening of people’s sensibility through reading books.

He added that the multiplier effect of a society filled with readers is the springing up of more readers, writers, publishers, publishing houses, editors, etc.

“We are looking forward to where writers are birth as an off-shoot of the conference.”

However, the conference which will take place at Watbridge Hotels & Suites, Uyo will feature over 40 Book and Literary clubs drawn from across Nigeria. There will be reviews, keynote speeches, tours, presentations by various clubs, spoken word, festschrifts, drama, cultural variety, Mbuk Nnyin – Our Stories and Local delicacies.

Also, there will be a visit to historical sites in the state and the rich array of its famed culture. Exhibitions, cultural fiesta, recreational activities, tours, book reviews, drama, interactive sessions, publications, among others.

The organisers promised that the event will be beamed live on social media platforms for the benefit of  international publics of the Club.

Meanwhile, Dr. Martins Akpan said there will be a standby medical team which will attend to the health needs of participants through the Conference.

The Opening Ceremony which comes up on Friday September, 17, 2021 by 10am will be chaired by Chief Assam Assam, SAN, Nigeria’s former Ambassador to Russia while Prof. Felicia Etim, University Librarian, Federal University, Otuoke will be the Keynote Speaker.

Renowned writers and intellectuals including; Dr. Wale Okediran, Dike Chukwumerije, Des Wilson, Ini Iteh, Moses Ibanga Akpabio, Joe Ushie, Ekong Sampson, Ofuma Agali, Udeme Nana, Precious Semaediong, Anietie Usen, Martin Akpan, Aniedi Etim, Ndueso Young, etc, will all serenade the conference with their stories and presentations.

In the Conference, Uyo is expected to be officially declared as ‘Nigeria’s  Book Clubs City,’ which is unprecedented in the Country.

The high point of the media brief was the launching of the official website of Uyo Book Club; www.uyobookclub.org.

© Enwono-Abasi Elisha.

POLICY ALERT TRAINS MEDIA TO UNCOVER OIL AND GAS FINANCIAL CORRUPTION

POLICY ALERT EQUIPS AK-MEDIA TO TACKLE FINANCIAL CORRUPTION IN OIL/GAS SECTOR

With the lots of fund leakages in the Nigerian financial system, especially in the extractive sector which is the oil, gas and solid minerals, the media as the watch dog are committed to unravel this veil over the Nigerian economy.

This was the aim of Policy Alert’s one day workshop on ‘Extractive Sector Data Journalism’ organised for the media in Akwa Ibom State in collaboration with Nigeria Union of Journalist, Akwa Ibom State Council at NUJ Centre, Information Drive -Uyo, Monday.

According to the Executive Director of Policy Alert, Mr. Tijah Bolton-Akpan said there is need for the media to be equipped to unraveled the myth which had covered the financial aspect in the extractive sector of the country through effective data journalism.

“The media is an important accountability actor in the extractive sector. The media has the traditional role to inform educate and investigate. Especially, given to the fact that the sector is coming from an era of obesity, secrecy surrounding transactions and payment by international oil and mining companies. What actually is the Government receipts from this IOCs. You will then realise in between the lines, a lot get lost under the table out of the revenues that should actually get to the coffers of Government. Alot of illicit financial flow happens from Nigeria to foreign jurisdictions. This is because the extractive sector, especially oil and gas, has a lot which citizens do not understand and is complex. They don’t know how the sector works.

“It is rather technical and alot of things have been hidden under the veneer of technicalities and specialized domain. All that combine together has created a sector so steeped in the shadows. Journalists have the role to uncover those shadows. To shine the light as it were on the sector. Not just Journalists, a lot of accountability actors like; Civil Society advocates, Legislators have very important role.

“Today’s own was for the media. What can the media do to interpret and make sense out of the data. We’ve had lots and lots of data flowing out of the reforms that have happened over two decades ago, right from 2004. All those data gave meaning in terms of holding the government accountable. But we have not seen that same kind of conversion of these data into accountability. On one hand we are seeing transparency which is accountability but we have not seen people being brought to book for some of the crimes they have committed against the Nigerian states through the things that are happening in the sector.

“So, the media has a very important role in shinning the light on this sector, in interpreting the data, in telling creative and meaningful stories that can connect the dots between all that very boring and hard data with the actual every day lives of the citizens especially the host communities. The people’s whose lives are directly affected by the exploration and extraction of oil and gas, solid minerals in Nigeria,” Mr. Tijah Bolton-Akpan said.

In his lecture, Mr. Cletus Ukpong who is the Assistant Editor and the Regional Editor South-South of Premium Times News blog, revealed the importance of Journalists equipping themselves with relevant laws guiding operating oil companies in the Country.

He said there is need for media personnel who are to become efficient data specialists in the profession not to neglect annual reports of these IOCs as there are much data willing to talk.

In his topic, ‘Uncovering the news – Skills and tools for investigative Journalism,’ Mr. Ukpong said it is high time the media practitioners in the state used data as a tool in investigative reporting. He however opined that there are available website links which are platforms for connecting with the activities of the players in the Extractive sector in Nigeria which include the Nigerian Extractive Industry and Transparency Initiative (NEITI).

Still in the lecture session, the CEO, Dataphyte, Mr. Joshua Olufemi, said
the essential of data journalism and good visualization can not be under rated in today’s investigative reporting.

Being represented by Mr. Charles Mbah of Dataphyte, he added that telling stories with pictorials (graphs and diagrams) serves time and even enhance better comprehension. Also, the importance of humanising an investigative story was put to bare.

While revealing the concept of ‘WetinWeGain2’ project, the Programme Officer – Extractives, Energy and Climate Justice of Policy Alert, Mr. Mfon Gabriel said the project is to enable the contracts of IOCs with Government to be transparent and the impact on the people revealed.

In his words, “Some of the community members do not have access to these MoUs. We want to see how we can make this available in public domain.”

Several goodwill messages were received from organisations and individuals.

In his goodwill message, the Chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalist, Akwa Ibom State Council, Cmd Amos Etuk thanked the organisers for believing in the visions and ideologies of the Union.
He said he hopes for a stronger partnership in future for more members to participate in the training.

The NUJ Chairman said his leadership emphasis on training and retraining of media professionals is on track and he is glad that the workshop will add up in the investigative aspect of Journalism in the state.

Each of the session opened up heated interface with participants and resource persons divulged methods and ways of extracting information from online sites for transparency, public good and advancement of the country.

TOWNSHIP DRIVERS DEMAND CESSATION OF MULTIPLE TICKETING BY MOT TASKFORCE

TOWNSHIP DRIVERS DEMAND CESSATION OF MULTIPLE TICKETING BY MOT TASKFORCE

The Township Drivers Association of Akwa Ibom State has sent a Save Our Soul (SOS) to the State Government, lamenting of inducement of multiple ticketing by Ministry of Transport (MOT) Taskforce on their transport business.

They said the development has deprived them of a meaningful livelihood which has brought a negative toll on their survival in the face of economic down turn.

The Township Drivers made the call yesterday, Thursday – September 9, 2021 as they took to the street a peaceful protest with a stopover at the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly.

According to the leader of the team who is also the Public Relations Officer (P.R.O) of the Association, Cmd Bassey Udofia, “We came to meet the number three man of the state to present our concerns since our previous meeting with the Transport Commissioner proved abortive.”

Leader of the protesting team of Township Drivers Association of Akwa Ibom State addressing the members.

He went ahead to explain that the Association had previously embarked on a similar peaceful protest which attracted the attention of the Commissioner of Transport and Solid Mineral, Hon. Uno Etim Uno.

According to the group, the Commissioner debunked he was not aware of the multiple ticketing and illegal extortion of money by MOT taskforce. Then, the Commissioner assured the Drivers that the scenario will not repeat itself and promised to look into the matter.

The Drivers on Thursday protest said they were alarmed to witness the same MOT taskforce coming back to the street to terrorize drivers with the same illegal extortion.

“Yesterday, the so-called MOT enforcement team came out to terrorize Drivers again. We wanted to meet the Commissioner but we decided to intimate the lawmaking body of the state which is called the ‘People’s Assembly,’ of what indigenes of Akwa Ibom State who take to transport business are going through in their own state.”

The Drivers decry of multiple levies placed on them by both the MOT taskforce and ‘Agbero’ group.

Protesting Drivers.

Contained in a document previously submitted to the Commissioner for Transport and Solid Mineral are 12 point demands by the Association to address their plight.

In part, they demanded; “The immediate withdrawal of a circular dated, 14/2/2020 and which has been effected since 1st July, 2020 from Board of Internal Revenue Service increasing the price of Roadworthiness renewal from N1,500 to N5,300 and now further increased to N9,800.

“We want the immediate end of this embarrassment/harassment by the following on Township Drivers in Akwa Ibom State: MOT taskforce, Men of Nigerian Police Force (Traffic Warden) who leaves their mandate of controlling traffic situation within the state to indulge in extortion, Anti-Touting Taskforce Team headed by one Mr. Blessing Ukim who has been terrorizing our drivers and extorting huge amount of money as high as N50,000 in the name of driving out-off our designated routes or wrong parking,
VIO charges of N75,000 for booked vehicles and a stop to the impounding of our vehicles over wrong parking as there is no designated bust-stops. ‘You can not place something on nothing’ and expect it to stand and demand huge amount from us before our vehicles are released.”

They also demanded end of multiple ticketing which is as high as N950 daily within the four LGAs that make up Uyo capital city. Outside these four LGAs, going farther to a LGA like Oron will require purchase of a N700 ticket plus the one previously bought per day.

Purchase of LG emblem for N5,500 and the sales of MOT waste basket at the cost of N5,000 (Defaulters charged N30,000), city permit at the rate of N5,000, they cried is on a high side for drivers. Also, about N25,000 is required to get their impounded vehicles released.

The group further said ‘Agbero’s’ welfare of N200/day for 7 years has amounted to N18b or N19b. They expressed fear of insecurity for such monies to be in the coffers of ‘Agberos.’

The delayed intervention of the state government in providing buses has left drivers to private individuals whose hired purchase price has become exorbitant, the group further lamented.

They also pleaded with the state government to scrap TEON, a consultant for revenue collection whose team led by one Mfon Okon Edet has been employing thuggery and violent method in collecting revenue from drivers.

After meeting with the Speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Aniekan Bassey, he promised to consult with relevant stakeholders in the sector to address the issue.

He urged the drivers to be law abiding, assuring them that the impounded vehicle of one of them, Victor Ediong will be released.

AKHA WADES INTO COMMUNAL CRISIS BETWEEN IKOT EBAK AND ENEN ATAI VILLAGES

AKHA WADES INTO COMMUNAL CRISIS BETWEEN IKOT EBAK AND ENEN ATAI VILLAGES

The Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly has waded into the communal crisis between Ikot Ebak village in Mkpat Enin LGA and Enen Atai village in Oruk Anam LGA.

This was a matter of Urgent Public Importance brought to the floor of the House by Hon. Victor Ekwere of Mkpat Enin State Constituency during Tuesday plenary.

According to the mover of the motion, “lives and properties in the villages involved in the land dispute are exposed to danger. People are not safe as there is serious tension in the land.”

“Recently, commuters travelling to Ikot Abasi LGA were asked to suspend their journey for hours because of the fight in a section of the road leading to Ikot Abasi LGA.”

He went ahead to explain how the crisis has degenerated to robbery, kidnapping by miscreants who take advantage of the situation.

The Mkpat Enin member urged the House to direct security agencies to move into action and restore peace to Ikot Ebak and the neighbouring village.

The Member representing Ibesikpo Asutan State Constituency, Rt. Hon. Aniekan Uko moved for the matter to be received by the House and was seconded by Hon. Mfon Idung of Etim Ekpo/Ika State Constituency.

Meanwhile, the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Aniekan Bassey who presided over the plenary session referred the matter to the House Committee on Boundary and Conflict Resolution to report back to the House within one month.

Also during Tuesday plenary, Rt. Hon. Aniefiok Denis of Etinan State Constituency moved a motion calling on the State Government to be proactive as cholera has broken out in 23 states of the federation.

The motion entitled ‘As Cholera Hits 23 States: Need to take Precautionary Measures in Akwa Ibom State,’ had legislators speaking in support of it.

In his contribution, Rt. Hon. Mark Esset of Nsit Atai State Constituency thanked Etinan member for the proactive information so that the state will not be caught unawares by the outbreak of the disease. He added that there is need to prepare and put up proactive measures to tackle the situation before the disease hits the state.

Also speaking, Rt. Hon. Otobong Bob of Nsit Ubium commended the member of Etinan State Constituency for the motion and noted that a stitch in time saves nine. He added that there is need for relevant agencies of public health to swing into action so that the outbreak does not get the state unawares.

Also contributing, the Chief Whip of the House, Rt. Hon. Emmanuel Ekpenyong said the need for precautionary measures can not be under estimated as neighboring states have been affected.

The motion prays that; “The House should direct the Ministries of Health, Environment, Information and Strategy as well as Ethical and Attitudinal Reorientation Commission, (EARCOM) to as a matter of urgency, embark on rigorous sensitization campaigns on the need for good hygiene and routine sanitation.

“Urge Akwa Ibom State Environment Protection and Waste Management Agency and the Ministry of Environment to redouble effort in evacuating waste and keeping our state clean and green to forestall the outbreak in the state.

“Implore the Ministry of Land and Water Resources and other relevant Ministries and Agencies to intensify effort towards making safe drinking water available for Akwa Ibom people.

The House upheld the prayers contained in the motion and urged the Clerk, Mrs Mandu Umoren to communicate the resolution to relevant agencies of the State Government.

Also, during plenary, a motion for Urgent need to decongest Ikot Ekpene/Ikpa Road Roundabout and other Locations in Uyo Metropolis sponsored by Hon. Victor Ekwere was committed to the House Committee on Works and Transport for in depth study and to report back to the House within one month.

As part of the House Order of the Day, House of Assembly Bill 266 entitled ‘Akwa Ibom State Bureau of Statistics Bill, 2021,’ Sponsored by Rt. Hon. Aniekan Nyong Uko passed through second reading after its first reading on February 9, 2021.

Contributing to the Bill, the Leader, Rt. Hon. Udo Kierian said he supports the spirit and letters of the bill as there is need to have a data base for MDAs for an effective information storage system in the state.

Also the Ukanafun representative, Hon. Charity Ido said due to the importance of statistics in the corporate accounting system, the Bill will help in discovering loopholes in governance and will guide in decision making. She also said it will aid to build the state’s confidence in public governance.

In his contribution, the Ikot Abasi/Eastern Obolo member, Rt. Hon. Uduak Odudoh said his support for the bill is because it exist in majority of the states in the federation.

The Bill was thereafter committed to the House Committee on Economic Planning and Development to report back to the House within one month.

Meanwhile, the House has been adjourned to Thursday, September 9, 2021 by 10:00am prompt.