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SERAP Seeks Public Registers for Corrupt Governors, Others

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By John Onah

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent an open letter to Mr Abukabar Malami, SAN, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, urging him to use his good offices and leadership to: “move swiftly to develop and adopt public registers for corrupt state governors and other high-ranking public officials charged with and convicted of grand corruption since the return of democracy in 1999.

“We urge you to ensure that the public registers contain accurate data and are fully accessible and open to public scrutiny. Aspects such as the scope of the registers, who to include in the registers, and eligibility for removal from the registers, can be discussed in a consultative session with the civil society and other stakeholders.

In the letter dated 23 August 2019 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “The proposed registers are far from severe, and would be a proportionate response to the grave crime of grand corruption and impunity of perpetrators and have a deterrent effect. There can be no reasonable expectation of privacy in matters already exposed to public viewing such as prior arrest, charges and conviction records.”

The organization said: “Public registers for high-ranking officials facing corruption charges and those convicted of corruption would be a pivotal moment in the fight against corruption by the government of President Muhammadu Buhari and the damage caused by graft to citizens’ human rights and Nigeria’s democratic process.”

SERAP also said: “The proposed registers for corrupt officials would serve a public interest purpose similar in some respects to the recently disclosed names and details by the United States Department of Justice of 80 defendants, most of whom are Nigerians, that have been charged with conspiracy to commit fraud, money laundering, aggravated identity theft and other charges.”

The letter read in part: “SERAP is concerned that corruption is so pervasive across many states and at several levels of governance and has remained a constant feature of Nigeria’s political scene since 1999, turning public service for many into a kind of criminal enterprise. Grand corruption has continued to fuel political violence, deny millions of Nigerians access to clean water, and even the most basic health and education services, and reinforcing police abuses and other widespread patterns of human rights violations.”

“The lack of public registers containing detailed information about high-ranking public officials charged with and convicted of corruption since 1999 has allowed many politicians—often with impunity–to use apparently illicitly acquired wealth to fund political parties, build corrupt patronage networks, thereby preventing fair access to economic and political power, serving to further the wealth and power of ruling elites, and exacerbating inequality.”

“Registers would help protect the public from corrupt officials and their collaborators and improve the ideal of representative government, as it would assist the citizens to properly exercise their right to participate in their own government.”

“Public registers would improve transparency by making it easier for the public to track the government’s fight against corruption and make the government as open as possible in its anti-corruption efforts. SERAP urges you to push for legislation that will require public officials charged with and convicted of grand corruption at the federal, state and local government levels to put their names in the public registers.”

“Everyone has the right of access to any information held by the state or by any other person, which is reasonably required for the exercise or protection of any rights, including those of citizens’ right to human dignity and freedom from corruption.”

“Registers for corrupt officials would also address the paucity of information about politicians and others complicit in the mismanagement of the country’s natural wealth and resources, with devastating consequences for citizens’ enjoyment of their human rights.”

“Many citizens lack knowledge and awareness of those charged with and convicted of grand corruption, and those that are complicit in the mismanagement of the country’s wealth and resources.”

“We hope that the aspects highlighted will help guide your actions in developing and adopting public registers for corrupt officials and proposing legislation on the matter, as appropriate. We would be happy to provide further information or to discuss any of these issues in more detail with you.”

CRIME

Three Dead  in Kubwa Violent Clash

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By Laide Akinboade, Abuja

Three persons, including two women and a young boy, have reportedly been killed in a clash between local scavengers, otherwise referred to as Baban Bola, and residents of the Byazhin community, in Kubwa, Bwari Area Council of the FCT.

An eyewitness, who identified herself as Jessica Adam, said a Baban Bola element attempted to steal a woman’s pot of soup, but was overpowered and beaten up after the woman alerted neighbours and passers-by.

The embittered baban bola then went away and mobilised hoodlums who returned at about 8:00 pm wielding weapons including machetes, clubs, and stones and began attacking residents at random, eventually killing the woman whose pot of soup was earlier stolen.

In the continuing attack, two others, a woman and a young boy, reported to be passers-by who unfortunately ran into the middle of the crisis, were also killed, they however, have yet yet to be identified.

“They killed two people yesterday. The Community has been in chaos since yesterday. The crisis continued till this morning when they killed somebody again. So far, three persons have been killed and many injured. The Police intervened and restored normalcy, but no arrest was made. The Police have intensified their patrol in the Byazhin area of Kubwa to prevent them from regrouping”, Ms Adams narrated.

A resident in the community, who spoke with Daily Asset, on the condition of anonymity, also confirmed the death of the three persons but said he had no clue as to what may have started the clash.

“Yes, the riot started yesterday. And by this morning, we learnt that three persons have been killed. It happened in Byazhin around that Millionaire’s Quarters, behind that Living Faith Church. That place is usually dangerous, because it is quite lonely, and you cannot pass through there alone, especially in the evening”, he said.

As of the time of filing this report, PUNCH Metro gathered that schools and shops in the area have been closed down, as parents scampered to pick up kids from their classrooms, and shops refused to open as of Wednesday morning.

Meanwhile, efforts to reach the Police Public Relations Officer of the FCT Police Command, SP Josephine Adeh, proved abortive, as her number was repeatedly unreachable.

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CRIME

Okuama Crisis: Reps Assures Justice as Committee Commences Probe

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From Mike Tayese, Yenagoa

The House of Representatives has said it will ensure the crisis in Okuama Community, Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State is brought to a logical conclusion.

Chairman, House Committee on Defence, Rep. Babajimi Benson, gave the assurance while addressing newsmen on Thursday, at the Governor’s Office Annexe in Warri.

Benson led other members of the committee to a public hearing on the carnage that occurred in Okuama Community in Delta resulting to the death of 17 soldiers and consequent destruction of properties.

The committee convened on Thursday at the Governor’s Office Annexe in Warri without the presence of the locals in attendance.

It would be recalled that the investigative hearing was in line with the 10th Assembly House of Representatives’ resolution of March 19, 2024.

The resolution was prompted by the March 14 massacre of 17 soldiers in the Okuama Community.

The lawmaker said that the committee had so far received about 23 memorandum from stakeholders.

“We came to see members of the community in camera and by way of memorandum. We have received a lot of memorandum from them but they have not turn up physically.

“We have gotten enough memorandum and we intend to work with the memorandum. Though, the window is opened till Friday next week, so we are still expecting more from them.

“We have assured everyone including the Delta State that the House of Representatives will ensure the matter is looked into from both sides and come to a logical conclusion.

“That is why we are asking them to send memoranda and they are complying. We gave them a week and the period will elapse on Friday.

“If you do not want to show up, please send us your documents so that we will be able to act on them, and get to a logical conclusion,” Benson appealed.

The legislator said that the committee was fully ready to ensure that justice was done on the matter.

On why the committee could not visit the troubled Okuama Community, the lawmaker said that the activities of the committee regarding the crisis had not ended.

According to him, the committee will visit the locals and also invite the military to give account of what happened at the community.

“We are definitely going to meet the locals but we are going to arm ourselves with information,” he said.

Among the 10-man committee was Rep. Francis Waive, member representing Ughelli North/Ughelli South and Udu Federal Constituency.

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CRIME

Gunmen Attack Ortom’s Ex-Chief-of-Staff, Abduct Wife

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Suspected armed Fulani herdsmen on Friday, attacked former Chief of Staff to Benue State Governor, Honorable Terwase Orbunde, and abducted his wife and house help.

Orbunde, a former governorship aspirant of the Peoples Democratic (PDP) in Benue state served under the administration of the immediate past Governor of the state, Dr Samuel Ortom.

The attack, it was learnt took place close to the “Genocide Cemetery” along Mobile Barracks-Welfare Quarters Road in Makurdi, the state capital at about 6.

00 PM.

The former Chief of Staff escaped with a gunshot on his right arm, while the attackers whisked away his wife, Mrs Abigail Kashimana Orbunde and her house help, Patience Ogute.

Eyewitnesses told DAILY ASSET that Orbunde, his wife and the house help, had gone to inspect the their farm when the incident happened.

The eyewitnesses said after the inspection of the work and payment of the workers five gunmen suddenly attacked their victims as they walked back to their car.

The attackers were said to have opened fire and Orbunde received a bullet on the right arm, while they ordered him and the women to follow them to an unknown destination.

The shooting was said to have caused villagers and passersby to scamper for safety in different directions.

As they marched along, the former Chief of Staff was said to be bleeding profusely, witnesses further said.

The witnesses who watched from a distance said the leader of the group ordered him to walk away while the gunmen took the women to an unknown destination.

An unidentified ‘good Samaritan’ was said to have conveyed the former Chief of Staff to an undisclosed hospital for medical attention.

The State Police Commnad could not be reached for comments at the time of this report.

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