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Religious violators list: We are disappointed Nigeria was delisted – USCIRF

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Religious violators list: We are disappointed Nigeria was delisted - USCIRF
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Religious violators list: We are disappointed Nigeria was delisted – USCIRF

USCIRF Appalled at Administration’s Removal of Nigeria from List of Violators of Religious Freedom

Welcomes State Department’s Additional Designations of Russia and Algeria

Washington, DC – The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) finds it unexplainable that the U.S. Department of State did not redesignate Nigeria as a “Country of Particular Concern” (CPC) and treated it as a country with no severe religious freedom violations.

“USCIRF is disappointed that the State Department did not adopt our recommendations in designating the countries that are the worst violators of religious freedom,” said USCIRF Chair Nadine Maenza. “While the State Department took steps forward on some designations, USCIRF is especially displeased with the removal of Nigeria from its CPC designation, where it was rightfully placed last year, as well as the omission of India, Syria, and Vietnam. We urge the State Department to reconsider its designations based on facts presented in its own reporting.”

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Religious violators list: We are disappointed Nigeria was delisted – USCIRF

Pursuant to the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA), the countries the State Department designated as CPCs are Burma, China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Eritrea, Iran, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan, all besides Russia previously had been designated. USCIRF recommended CPC designation for all 10 in its 2021 Annual Report and also recommended that India, Nigeria, Syria, and Vietnam be designated as CPCs.

The State Department placed on its “Special Watch List” (SWL) Algeria, Comoros, Cuba, and Nicaragua. USCIRF recommended in its 2021 Annual Report that Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Turkey, and Uzbekistan also be placed on the SWL. USCIRF recently released a factsheet reiterating its CPC and SWL recommendations, which explains the religious freedom violations in these countries supporting USCIRF’s recommendations.

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“While USCIRF is concerned about the lack of designations for countries USCIRF recommended, Russia’s designation for the first time as a CPC for engaging in systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom is welcomed. USCIRF has proposed this action since 2017. For years, USCIRF has raised the alarm regarding the Russian government’s purge of ‘non-traditional’ religions and religious freedom repression,” said USCIRF Vice Chair Nury Turkel. “USCIRF also applauds the inclusion of Algeria in the State Department’s SWL designations this year, which USCIRF has recommended since 2020 due to continued enforcement of blasphemy laws and restrictions on houses of worship for minority religious communities.”

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USCIRF also welcomed the State Department’s designations of nine Entities of Particular Concern (EPCs), which are non-state actors that engage in systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom pursuant to IRFA. USCIRF recommended the designation of seven of these actors including al-Shabaab, Boko Haram, the Houthis, Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS), Jamaat Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM), and the Taliban in its 2021 Annual Report.

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High Court Affirms Appointment Of 75 Obas Sacked By Abiodun

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High Court Affirms Appointment Of 75 Obas Sacked By Abiodun
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High Court Affirms Appointment Of 75 Obas Sacked By Abiodun

An Ogun State High Court sitting in Abeokuta on Tuesday affirmed the appointment of the 75 coronet Obas installed by the former Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun.

Amosun had upgraded the 75 village heads to Coronet Obas nine days to the expiration of his administration .

But on assumption of duty, Governor Dapo Abiodun set up a committee, which reviewed and recommended that the promotion of the traditional rulers from Baale to Oba be reversed.

In February, Abiodun announced the demotion of the Obas, as recommended by the committee chaired by the Olu of Ilaro, Oba Kehinde Olugbenle.

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Miffed by the development, the 75 Obas dragged the governor and other officials of the state government to court, asking for their reinstatement and payment of their entitlements.

The coronet Obas also got a interlocutory injunction that maintained their appointment as coronet Obas till the Court said otherwise.

The Presiding Judge, Justice Abiodun Akinyemi, in his judgement declared the removal of the Obas, null and void.

Akinyemi also granted the Obas a perpetual injunction, barring the defendants, the Ogun State Governor, State Commissioner for Local government and Cheiftancy Affairs, the Permanent Secretary of the State Ministry of Local government and Cheiftaincy Affairs or its agents from removing them from office except in fulfilment of the law.

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High Court Affirms Appointment Of 75 Obas Sacked By Abiodun

He also ordered that the claimants (the coronet Obas) be paid all renumeration attached to their offices from the date of their installation up till the moment of the judgement.

The Judge also ruled that the Obas were not given a fair hearing by the review committee set up by the State Governor, faulting the process.

On the argument raised by the defending counsel that the then Executive Council was misled before the appointment of the Oba, Justice Akinyemi ruled that there is know evidence of misleading in the evidence presented by the defence counsel and that if there was ever a misleading evidence ,it didn’t come from the claimants.

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He said the misleading evidence came from the State Ministry of local government and Chieftaincy affairs represented by the then Commissioner in the Ministry as a member of the then State Executive Council.

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Malami Begins Probe Into Reported Fraudulent Sale Of FG’s Recovered Assets

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Malami Begins Probe Into Reported Fraudulent Sale Of FG's Recovered Assets
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Malami Begins Probe Into Reported Fraudulent Sale Of FG’s Recovered Assets

Mr Malami says a syndicate reportedly from the ministry reportedly sold federal government’s recovered assets “without his knowledge”.

The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has set up a panel to probe alleged fraudulent sale of recovered assets of the federal government.

Mr Malami said the federal government was yet to commence sale of its recovered looted assets.

In a press statement on Tuesday, Mr Malami’s spokesperson, Umar Gwandu, acknowledged a media report, claiming that a “syndicate allegedly from the ministry sells federal government’s recovered properties without the knowledge of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.”

“It is important to set the record straight that the office of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice has not officially started the sale of Federal Government’s property,” the statement read in part.

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Mr Gwandu also said the AGF neither approved nor ordered the sale of any property.

“The Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami, SAN has set up a 5-member Committee to investigate and verify the authenticity of the media report which allegedly claims that syndicate from the Federal Ministry of Justice sells Federal Government’s recovered properties without the knowledge of the office of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.”

Mr Gwandu made reference to a circular signed by the Solicitor General of the Federation Umar Mohammed, dated November 29, 2021.

Malami Begins Probe Into Reported Fraudulent Sale Of FG’s Recovered Assets

The circular was titled, ‘The Constitution of a Committee to investigate the alleged sale of Federal Government of Nigeria’s Property by syndicate in the Ministry’.

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“A committee is hereby constituted to investigate the allegation with the view to unravelling the veracity or otherwise of the publication” the circular partly read.

According to the statement, the committee chaired by the Director Public Prosecution of the Federation, was inaugurated on Tuesday.

It is saddled with the responsibility of unveiling the accuracy of the publication and recommend ways of handling the matter in accordance with the provisions of the extant laws.

It is expected to complete the assignment within one week and submit its report of their investigation to the Solicitor General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Justice.

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“Individuals, groups, companies, institutions or organisations that claimed to have associated with the alleged syndicate from the Federal Ministry of Justice in relation to purchase of houses, landed property, vehicles, vessels, plants and machineries belonging to the Federal Government are encouraged to come out with any information, evidence or document regarding the alleged sales,” Mr Malami was quoted to have urged Nigerians.

Mr Gwandu said the “Secretariat of the Investigation Committee can be contacted at the Office of the Director Public Prosecution of the Federation, Federal Ministry of Justice and be reached within one week from 1st December, 2021 or via email: investigation.committee@justice.gov.ng.”

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Just in: Members of National Assembly fight over Army recruitment

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Just in: Members of National Assembly fight over Army recruitment

Uneasy calm on Tuesday evening pervaded the Senate wing of the National Assembly as members of the Senate Committee on Army clashed over alleged lopsidedness in recent recruitments carried out by the Nigerian Army, NA.

The development happened during an interactive session between members of the committee and the Commander, Training and Doctrine Command of the Nigerian Army, Major General S.O Olabanji.

Trouble started when a member of the committee who doubles as the Deputy Minority Whip of the Senate, Senator Abdullahi Ibrahim Danbaba (PDP Sokoto South) took up General Olabanji on alleged lopsided nature of recruitment carried out by the Army recently.

But the acting chairman of the committee, Senator Abba Moro (PDP Benue South) who presided over the session, ruled Danbaba out of order, saying “this meeting is not for such enquiry.”

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Apparently irked by the development, another member of the committee, Senator Barinada Mpigi (PDP Rivers South East), raised the issue again, saying “lopsidedness in recruitment is not an issue to be put aside or rule against.”

Senator Moro again ruled against the enquiry, insisting that the session was not for review of recruitment made by the Army, but on Tactical Training and Doctrine men and officers.

“The questions being raised by my colleagues on alleged lopsided recruitments are being thrown to the wrong person. The Chief of Army Staff, Lt – Gen. Farouk Yahaya is the one who can do justice to such allegation or enquiry,” he said.

Angered by the insistence of Senator Moro that questions on recruitment should be entertained at the session, Senators Danbaba and Mpigi stormed out of the meeting.

Expressing his anger to journalists on what transpired at the session, Senator Danbaba said he walked out from the meeting with Senator Mpigi based on dictatorial action of Senator Moro.

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“He shouldn’t have ruled us out of order since the military man whom the question was directed to, did not complain.

Just in: Members of National Assembly fight over Army recruitment

“The issue of marginalization in recruitment has never been responded to, it is part of the oversight process of the committee to ensure that whatever is to be done should be done to ensure justice, the Nigerian Army like any institution of government in Nigeria is supposed to comply with provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended and that constitution has made it very clear that the issue of federal character and representation is paramount as a constitutional issue.

“I’m not blaming the Army, the Army has been performing very well, but at the same time, the issue of recruitment is very very important.

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“I left the meeting, I stormed out with Mpigi because we were angry,” he said.

Defending his action, Senator Moro in a counter interview with journalists, said he had no any regret for ruling Danbaba out of order as far as the issue of alleged lopsided recruitment was concerned.

“Danbaba and Mpigi’s questions were directed to a wrong person. What explanation were they expecting from Commander, Training and Doctrine Command on recruitment.

“Besides, the committee had tabled the issue before the Chief of Army Staff few months ago with response bothering on physical and medical reasons for those recruited and those who failed in the exercise,” he stressed.

It was, however, gathered that Senator Danbaba vowed to take the matter to the Leader of the Senate, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi (APC Kebbi North) for formal complaint.

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