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SERAP Asks ICPC To Probe Alleged Hoarding Of COVID-19 Palliatives In Nigeria

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The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to “promptly, thoroughly, transparently and effectively investigate the circumstances surrounding the alleged hoarding of COVID-19 palliatives in warehouses in several states, which ought to have been distributed to the poorest and most vulnerable people during the lockdown, and to publish the outcome of any such investigation.”

SERAP’s petition followed reports that some people have discovered and taken away COVID-19 palliatives stored in warehouses in several states.

SERAP in the petition sent to Bolaji Owasanoye, Chairman, ICPC, asked the agency to “ensure the prompt and effective prosecution of anyone suspected to be responsible, if there is relevant and sufficient admissible evidence of hoarding and diversion of the palliatives.”

In the petition dated October 24, 2020, and signed by SERAP deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: “It would seem that Nigerian authorities asked people to stay at home as a protective lockdown measure but then failed to discharge a legal responsibility to timely, effectively, and transparently distribute COVID-19 palliatives to ease the hardship faced by the poorest and most vulnerable people.”

SERAP also said: “Unless promptly investigated, the allegations of hoarding and diversion would undermine public trust in any efforts to bring the spread of the pandemic under control, exacerbate the negative impact of the crisis, and deny those most in need access to basic necessities of life.”

SERAP argued: “Tracking, monitoring and ensuring COVID-19 palliatives are timely, effectively, and efficiently distributed to those most in need would improve transparency and accountability, respect for human rights, as well as remove the possibility of political considerations or bribery in the distribution of the palliatives.”

SERAP expressed: “serious concerns that the alleged hoarding of COVID-19 palliatives in several states and the apparent failure to timely, effectively, efficiently, and transparently distribute the palliatives and other reliefs to the poorest and most vulnerable people have continued to deny many citizens the much-needed support.”

SERAP also urged the ICPC “to visit the states where COVID-19 palliatives have been discovered in warehouses, and to track and monitor the distribution of palliatives across the 36 states of the country, and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, to remove the risks of diversion, and ensure that the palliatives get to those most in need, and not used for political or corrupt purposes.”

The petition, copied to Itse Sagay, Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), read in part: “Some people have reportedly discovered and taken away COVID-19 palliatives stored in warehouses in several states including Cross River, Edo, Ekiti, Kwara, Kaduna, Lagos, Osun, Plateau and Taraba states, with some of the people reportedly saying: ‘the food is ours but they are keeping it for themselves’.”

“Promptly attending to these recommendations would show your agency’s willingness to proactively exert your mandates, as this would act as a deterrent against breaches of Nigeria’s constitution, anti-corruption legislation and international standards, as well as ensure the transparent and accountable distribution of COVID-19 palliatives and other reliefs.”

“SERAP notes that billions of naira have been budgeted and donated to respond to COVID-19 and help ease the resulting impact and hardship on the poorest and most vulnerable people. Nigeria has also received millions of dollars in international aid and announced programmes to help citizens through the lockdown, including direct distribution of food to millions of vulnerable households.”

“This request is consistent with the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended], the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission Act, and the country’s international obligations including under the UN Convention against Corruption, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Nigeria has ratified these treaties.”

“The request is also consistent with the COVID-19 transparency frameworks that have been put together by the Nigerian authorities.”

“These include: the framework on delivering a transparent food ration distribution for the National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme; Framework for the Management of COVID-19 Funds in Nigeria under the Treasury Single Account by the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation; Guidelines for the Conduct of Procurements that respond to COVID-19; and the Accountability and Transparency Mechanisms for Delivering the Cash Transfer by the Humanitarian Affairs.”

“In particular, Section 15(5) of the Nigerian Constitution provides that ‘The State shall abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power.’ Similarly, the UN Convention against Corruption requires the authorities to ensure effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions and penalties for hoarding and diversion.”

SERAP, therefore, urged the ICPC to put pressure on federal and state authorities to:

  1. Develop clear criteria on who exactly qualifies for COVID-19 palliatives and other reliefs to ensure that the palliatives are not used by corrupt officials to benefit themselves and their political supporters at the expense of the intended beneficiaries;
  2. Seek and publish distribution information from federal and state authorities, including details of the timelines of distribution of COVID-19 palliatives and other reliefs, as well as the logistics that have been put in place to facilitate the distribution;
  3. Seek and publish details of palliatives and other socio-economic reliefs that federal and state authorities have so far provided to the poorest and most vulnerable people, including the list of beneficiaries of any such palliatives and reliefs;
  4. Open public complaints reporting mechanism on distribution of COVID-19 palliatives and other reliefs to ensure access of citizens that may be unduly denied of the aid to justice and effective remedies;
  5. Work with federal and state authorities to identify which areas remain most in need of palliatives and other reliefs and ensure timely, effective, efficient, transparent and accountable distribution to the intended beneficiaries

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Ethiopia, Tigray Forces Claim Victory As US Wades Into Crisis

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Tents belonging to Ethiopian refugees fleeing from the ongoing fighting in Tigray region, are seen at the Um-Rakoba camp, on the Sudan-Ethiopia border, in the Al-Qadarif state, Sudan November 23, 2020. Picture taken November 23, 2020. REUTERS/MOHAMED NURELDIN ABDALLAH/FILE PHOTO

Ethiopian government has said Tigrayan forces are surrendering in the face of an advancing country army. The TPLF forces has however rejected this and said they are on course for victory in their battle against Ethiopia, revealing they struck an important army division.

The Ethiopian government and Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) have had daggers drawn for almost a month.

Hundreds, comprising Ethiopians and Tigrayans have died since the conflict started. According to Reuters, at least 41,000 Ethiopian refugees are in Sudan.

The crisis has seen the African Union calling for a quick resolution between the warring parties.

On Monday, Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed gave the TPLF forces 72 hours to surrender or suffer a wreck. The UN in an instant reaction warned Ethiopia that it has the responsibility of protecting civilians and aid workers in the country.

FILE PHOTO: Debretsion Gebremichael, Tigray Regional President, attends the funeral ceremony of Ethiopia’s Army Chief of Staff Seare Mekonnen in Mekele, Tigray Region, Ethiopia June 26, 2019. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

Mekelle, the Tigrayan capital has about 500,000 inhabitants and they have been threatened with shelling if the TPLF forces fail to surrender.

TPLF leader Debretsion Gebremichael on Tuesday argued against the government version that Mekelle is encircled at a roughly 50km (31 mile) distance. He said it was plan of the government to run for cover when struck.

The United States has now reacted to the ongoing conflict and has advised that both parties sheathe their sword and embrace an amicable resolution. The US has also backed planned mediation of the African Union in the matter.

Abiy Ahmed has been accused of ethnic bias against the northern Tigray people. Ahmed, a Nobel Peace Prize winner comes from the Amhara group and has denied claims by Tigrayans linking his leadership to ethnic preference.

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Missing Genitals Saga In Benue Community

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Daudu is a community in the local government area where the allegation of missing genital organs had spread like fire in the past few weeks, turning the Community of Benue State in Nigeria’s North Central into a ghost town. This follows the arrest of three persons in connection with the murder of a pastor and destruction of property belonging to a businessman after the two were accused of conniving to steal the reproductive organs and miraculously restore them for a fee. Following the murder of Prophet Jacob Uhemba, the police in Benue had to take The businessman, mister Sake Iorhemba into protective custody. It turned out that the bloodshed and arson resulted from a false alarm. From the initial claim that genitals had totally disappeared, the purported victims later said they had only lost potency, but a specialist who attended to the nine victims of missing genitals certified them medically fit.

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Court Revokes Bail, Issues Warrant of Arrest For Nigeria’s Ex-Pension Boss’ Son, Faisal Maina

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A Nigerian court has ordered the revocation of the bail granted to Faisal Maina, the son of ex-chairman, defunct Pension Reformed Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, over his failure to appear for his trial.

Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja, on Tuesday, after giving the order also issued a bench warrant for his arrest “anywhere he is sighted by security agencies.”

Justice Abang, in addition, issued a summon on Faisal’s surety, Rep. Sani Umar Dan-Galadima, who represents Kaura Namoda Federal Constituency of Zamfara, to appear before the court on Wednesday, to show cause why the bail bond should not be forfeited.

The court had on Nov. 26, 2019 admitted Faisal to bail in the sum of N60 million with a surety in the like sum who must be a member of the House of Representatives.

Dan-Galadima had deposed to an affidavit of means, on Dec. 11, 2019, to always come to court at every adjourned date and produce Faisal in court.

News Central reports that a Nigerian lawmaker, Sen. Ali Ndume, who stood as surety for Faisal’s father, Abdulrasheed Maina, was remanded in jail yesterday after the former pension failed to appear for his trial.

Ndume, the Senator representing Borno South in the West African country’s Upper House, had stood as surety for former Chairman, defunct Pension Reformed Task Team (PRTT), Maina, who is standing trial on money laundering charges.

Maina, who was arraigned before the Federal High Court, Abuja, presided over by Okon Abang, on October 25, 2019, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) alongside his son, Faisal, and firm, Common Input Property and Investment Ltd., was released from Kuje in July 2020 after spending nine months in Kuje Correctional Centre.

He had already spent nine months at the prison at the time.

Ndume had also sometime in July revealed that it took him six months of painful consideration to agree to be a surety for the ex-Pension boss, and that it was part of the cross he had to carry as Mr Maina’s elected senator.

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