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NASS, Presidency must sanction Foreign Affairs Ministry for violating FOI Act - ITREALMS

ITREALMS : Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has urged the National Assembly (NASS), the Presidency and  the Attorney-General of the Federati...

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ICT4D Week 2018

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

NASS, Presidency must sanction Foreign Affairs Ministry for violating FOI Act - ITREALMS

Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has urged the National Assembly (NASS), the Presidency and the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN) to strongly condemn the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) for violating the Freedom of Information Act and deceiving Nigerians, reports ITREALMS.

"We call on all relevant authorities, particularly President Muhammadu Buhari, the National Assembly, and the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN) to strongly condemn this conduct as unworthy of a public institution and make clear that such practices, namely violating the provisions of the Law with impunity and the blatant attempt to deliberately mislead and deceive the Nigerian public, will not be condoned by this administration," MRA said in reaction.

ITREALMS recalled that the Ministry had on Wednesday, November 14, through its spokesman, Mr. George Ehidiamen Edokpa, issued a public statement which claimed it complied with provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011, and condemned “in strong terms insinuations that the Ministry has consistently breached most of its duties and obligations under the FOI Act over the last seven years.”

The statement was apparently in response to an assessment by Media Rights Agenda (MRA) of the Ministry’s poor performance in the implementation of the FOI Act, as announced by Ms. Chioma Nwaodike, MRA’s Legal Officer, on Monday, November 12, 2018.

It is a matter of grave concern when a public institution like the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, financed through public funds, violates our Laws with impunity. It is doubly worrisome when the same institution uses public resources to mislead and deceive the entire country, when it should be taking corrective measures to remedy its lapses. Such action shows a lack of remorse, insults the intelligence of Nigerians and erodes public trust and confidence in government.

Rather than respond to the specific issues of non-compliance which MRA raised, the Ministry has chosen to resort to an omnibus generalization, claiming: “The Ministry also engages in periodic and systematic dissemination of relevant information to the public, of its activities and programmes through regular press briefings, as well as press releases organised by the Crises Monitoring and Public Communications Division.”

MRA insist it was quite clear and specific about the aspects of the FOI Act that it accused the Ministry of failing to comply with.

For the avoidance of doubt, MRA reaffirmed "our position that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has consistently breached most of its duties and obligations under the FOI Act over the last seven years, and provide the following particulars:

· "Section 2(3)(d)(v) of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011 requires every public institution to proactively publish “information relating to the receipt or expenditure of public or other funds of the institution”. We assert that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is in breach of this statutory obligation and has consistently breached this duty over the last seven years and challenge the Ministry to provide any evidence that it is in compliance with this duty under the FOI Act or provide a link to any platform on which it has published this information.

· Section 2(3)(d)(vi) of the Act places an obligation on every public institution to proactively publish “the names, salaries, titles, and dates of employment of all employees and officers of the institution”. We insist that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is in breach of this statutory obligation and has consistently been in breach of the obligation over the last seven years. We challenge the Ministry to provide any evidence that it is in compliance with this duty under the FOI Act or provide a link to any platform on which it has published this information.

· "Section 2(3)(f) of the Act places an obligation on every public institution to proactively publish “the title and address of the appropriate officer of the institution to whom an application for information under this Act shall be sent”. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed in its statement under reference that “Contrary to the misleading report, there is a Desk Officer in the Ministry assigned to handle requests under the FOI Act.” We insist that the Ministry is in breach of this statutory obligation to proactively publish the title and address of such an officer, if indeed it has such a Desk Officer. We further insist that the Ministry has consistently breached this obligation over the last seven years and challenge the Ministry to provide any evidence that it is in compliance with this duty under the FOI Act and provide a link to any platform on which it has published this information. We note further that the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, which has oversight in the implementation of the FOI Act, has, pursuant to his functions under the Act, repeatedly requested all public institutions to supply the Office with the names and contact details of the FOI Desk Officers and that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has consistently failed to supply the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation with the name and contact details or any other information at all relating to its supposed FOI Desk Officer, in consequence of which there is no FOI Desk Officer for the Ministry in the Database of FOI Desk Officers maintained and published by the Federal Ministry of Justice.

· "Section 13 of the Act provides that “Every government or public institution must ensure the provision of appropriate training for its officials on the public’s right to access to information or records held by government or public institutions, as provided for in this Act andfor the effective implementation of this Act.” We assert that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is in breach of this statutory obligation and has consistently breached this duty over the last seven years. We challenge the Ministry to state the date or dates on which it has provided the required training for its officials, who attended the training, who conducted the training and provide any evidence that such training actually took place.

· "Section 29(1) of the FOI Act provides that “On or before February 1 of each year, each public institution shall submit to the Attorney-General of the Federation a report which shall cover the preceding fiscal year …”. As at February 1, 2018, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs ought to have submitted seven such reports to the Attorney-General of the Federation. However, in flagrant disregard of the provisions of the Act, the Ministry has to date only submitted one such report to the Attorney-General of the Federation, which was the report it submitted for the year 2013. We therefore insist that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has consistently been in breach of this obligation over the last seven years.

· "Section 29(2) of the FOI Act states that “Each public institution shall make such report available to the public, among other means, by computer and telecommunications, or if computer and telecommunications means have not been established by the Government or Public Institution, by other electronic means.” We therefore challenge the Ministry to state where and how it has made its annual implementation reports available to the public.

· "We challenge the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to state how many applications for information it has received every year over the last seven years, the number of such applications for information that it has processed and granted as well as the number of such applications for information it has denied or ignored.

In the face of these facts, there can be no doubt that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has consistently breached most of its duties and obligations under the FOI Act over the last seven years.

Nenye Dom/GEE

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Pix: Chairman of the National Assembly, Senate President Bukola Saraki

70 telecom sites shutdown: Gov. Yahaya Bello breaches Cybercrime Act 2015 - ITREALMS

ITREALMS:

For the Kogi State government under the watch of Alhaji Yahaya Bello as governor, to shut down some 70 telecommunications sites, he may have breached the 2015 Cybercrime Act, and could be tried even after office, reports ITREALMS.

This action, ITREALMS gathered affected 10 states including Kogi and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja.

Also, this is coming in the wake of reports that the Office of the National Security Adviser had written the state government to advise against such shutdowns as it constitute security breach as evident in the Part II: Protection of Critical National Information Infrastructure, because telecommunications is.

Investigations by ITREALMS showed that by the shutdowns, Kogi State under his watch has constituted a critical national security threat and could be tried after his immunity expires on leaving his current office.

The controversial Governor of Kogi State, Alhaji Yahaya Bello may have after all committed an offence under the Cybercrime Act of 2015 by ordering the sealing and shut downs of some 70 cell sites which have affected 10 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, reports ITREALMS.

Investigations by ITREALMS showed that by the shutdowns, Kogi State under his watch has constituted a critical national security threat.

Reacting to the shutdowns by Kogi government of telecommunications sites, the Executive Chairman, Consultancy Support Services Limited, a Cyber Security & Information Communication Technology (ICT) Consultancy, told ITREALMS the government, may be in breach of the Nigeria’s Cybercrime Act 2015.

This, he explained will amount to serious denial of service to the telecom consumers in the country.
He expressed displeasure on the fact that the shutdown may not affect only Kogi State alone but 10 others, just as Ajijola said even the decision at the time electioneering campaign for 2019 is stating is absurd.

Ajijola also cautioned the nation’s political class to draw a line between Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) and creation of viable jobs.

He argued that the so-called IGR is actually out of value chain jobs emanating from broad technology adoption in the country by the small, medium enterprises.

“Our political class and many public sector decision makers are unable to appreciate that government revenues accrue from taxes as a result of job and wealth creation, not the other way around,” he said.

Alternatively, the affected states may have to get court injunctions to restrain the Kogi Government and its agents from shutting down telecom infrastructures considering their effects even beyond the state.

ITREALMS recalls that the shutting down of telecommunications facilities in Kogi State was as a result of disputes arising from unusual taxes and levies demanded by the Kogi State Government through its Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning, Ministry of Environment and Mineral Resources, Kogi State Environmental Protection Board, championed by the Kogi State Internal Revenue Service (KIRS), from the GSM Operators under the aegis of Association Licensed Telecom Operators of Nigeria (ALTON).

And the affected states include the entire Kogi State, parts of Abuja the Federal Capital Territory and  those  states sharing borders with Kogi State.

These include Nassarawa, Benue, Enugu, Anambra, Edo, Ondo, Ekiti, Kwara, Niger States.

Chuks Egbune/ED, Ops

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Aba Women Riot: Remembering 'Nwayereuwa, Nwannedia, Ikonnia & Nwugo' - ITREALMS


Tribute@ITREALMS:
'Nwayereuwa, Nwannedia, Ikonnia, Nwugo and yet another'
I am sure 90 per cent of Africans, Nigerians and mainly people of Igbo origin who read the headline of this post will be like who the hell are these people? 

Yes, we wouldn’t know them because we’ve been busy learning about their Mother Theresa and the fraudulent story of Mary Slessor.

On this day  89 years ago, in the morning of November 18th 1929, a man called Emereuwa upon the directive of his boss Okugo the warrant chief, walked into the compound of a widow called Nwanyereuwa, ordered her for a census of all her livestock and household.

The widow Nwanyereuwa knowing the census will determined how much she will be taxed by the British colonial government, embittered, shouted on Emereuwa “was your widowed mother at home counted?” An angry exchange ensued. Nwanyereuwa resentfully rushed down to the town and market square, consulted other disgruntled women; they with palm fronds quickly mobilised other women. 

And that marked the beginning of one of the greatest resistance, rebellion and uprising the British imperial colonial rule ever faced in Nigeria πŸ‡³πŸ‡¬and Africa in general, Called “#The_Aba_Women_Riot” otherwise known as “#The_women_who_went_to_war” 

While the men were subdued, while the man died in the men in the face of oppression and tyranny of colonialism. The women stepped up and in. Record has it that over ten thousand women were involved in this revolt, and about 50 women lost their lives in the war/riot. This resistance was orchestrated by:

1) Persuasive #Ikonnia
2) Intelligent #Nwannedia
3) Passionate #Nwugo and
4) Wise, Counselling and strategic #Nwanyereuwa these were the women that led the famous #Aba_Women_Riot.

Women from across Six ethnic groups were involved, the Igbos, Ibibio, Andoni, Ogoni, Bonny and Opobo

Hundreds of British colonial courts were burnt down and destroyed, hundreds of warrant chiefs were ostracised and banished. On the aftermath of the revolt, the British were forced to abandon the proposed plans to impose tax on the market women, powers of the warrant chiefs were considerably curbed and more robust room was created for women’s inclusiveness in the grand scheme of things. 

The Aba women’s riot was on the scale never seen before. It prompted, encouraged and inspired subsequent agitations like;

1) The Tax protest of 1938
2) The Owerri and Calabar oil mill protest of the 1940s
3) The Onitsha Aba Tax revolt of 1956
Then consequently the Nigeria πŸ‡³πŸ‡¬ independence in 1960. 

But unfortunately sad, when you drive through Aba today, you will see Faulks road, in owerri you will see Wetheral Road and Douglas road all of them are colonial relics. Imo state government house is called Douglas house, named after Harold Morday Douglas, a brutal British colonial district commissioner who orchestrated the Ahiara expedition of 1905 that saw villages wiped out. 

Today one deranged governor of Imo State is busy moulding status of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia πŸ‡±πŸ‡· and Jacob Zuma of South Africa πŸ‡ΏπŸ‡¦, that has no connection or historical relevance to the people of Imo State. We’ve seen streets, roads, government buildings and and schools named after strangers, monuments raised for people of little or no importance to our history and future. But the real heroes, heroins and legends have been relegated to obscurity, sent to oblivion in a complete sheer and crass negligence. 

I hope that one day, the Igbos, Ibibios, Andonis, Ogonis, Opobos and Bonnis will have a leadership that will remember these women, the fifty that lost their lives and all that paid the ultimate price, immortalise them. I hope one day I shall see Nwanyereuwa road, Ikonnia hospital, Nwannedia secondary school and Nwugo shopping plaza. I hope to see us name our children after these legendary women and mothers and tell them the story. 

Today 18th November 2018, I remember the women who didn’t only fight against an oppressive British colonial rule, but also had to fight their own men (Warrant chiefs) who chose the side of the Oppressor because of crumbs that fall from the table of master. 

Aba women’s riot, the women who went to war. We remember.''

*Contributed by Mazi Uba Acho/GEE

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Peter Obi, AGN President lead dignitaries to News Express 6th lecture - ITREALMS

All is set for the News Express 6th Anniversary Lecture & Economic Stakeholders Forum scheduled to hold today, Tuesday, November 20, 2018, at the main hall of Sheraton Hotel & Towers, Ikeja, Lagos, with Mr. Peter Obi, former Anambra State Governor and Vice Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), as well as President of the Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN), Emeka Rollas Ejezie leading dignitaries, reports ITREALMS.
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The event would also be used to unveil the News Express Special Print Edition, an all-gloss periodical magazine, the Publisher of the titles, Mr. Isaac Umunna, said in a statement issued on Monday in Lagos.

He disclosed that more dignitaries have confirmed their attendance, among them the President of the Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN), Emeka Rollas Ejezie; international music icon and business tycoon, Dr Tee Mac Omatshola Iseli (MFR); top Nollywood stars; Controller of Prisons, Lagos State Command, Mr Tunde Ladipo; NTA Director, Mrs. Helen Onma Odeleye; and a representative of Mr. Peter Obi, former Anambra State Governor and Vice Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), among several others.

“The event would be chaired by Chief Goddy Uwazuruike, eminent lawyer and President Emeritus of Aka Ikenga think tank, while four eminent Nigerians would deliver speeches on the Lecture theme, Transparency – Bedrock of Sustainable Development,” Umunna said.

He named the lecturers as the Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA); Honourable Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Lagos State, Kehinde Bamigbetan; Executive Director of Media Law Centre, Richard Akinnola; and theAGN National President, Emeka Rollas Ejezie.

“The programme starts by 11:00 a.m. and is open to members of the public,” Umunna said.
He described the News Express Anniversary Lecture and Economic Stakeholders’ Forum as “an annual programme that has an established trend of bringing together important business and political leaders from across the country, as well as multifarious professionals and influential media stakeholders.

News Express, which debuted on August 29, 2012, is one of Nigeria’s most popular and influential online dailies. It is read by hundreds of thousands of people around the world and records annual traffic of upwards of 100 million.

Nenye Dom/GEE

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Monday, November 19, 2018

U.S. Consulate doles out $453,568 to 45 Nigeria CSOs - ITREALMS

In the last 10 months and 19 days of 2018, the United States Consulate General in Lagos has awarded $453, 568 to 45 individuals, non-government organizations (NGOs), and academic institutions, reports ITREALMS.
The grants support a variety of worthwhile projects in the areas of human rights, transparency in government, freedom of the media, empowerment of women and youth, health, education, entrepreneurship, and the promotion of mutual understanding.
Speaking at the grant award ceremony in Lagos on Monday, U.S. Consul General F. John Bray recognized the commitment of the grantee organizations working to improve the lives of community members through sustainable projects that bolster good governance, education, and health.
According to him, the Consulate’s grant award program is part of the U.S. government’s efforts to support Nigeria’s economic development, improve livelihoods, and strengthen communities.
 “The U.S. Mission has several objectives here in Nigeria, one of the foremost is to support a healthier, more educated population in Nigeria.  One way in which we work to accomplish these goals is through grants.
“We are so proud to work with such an immensely energetic and creative community of organizations and individuals committed to strengthening communities and empowering fellow Nigerians!” Consul General Bray added.
Every year, the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Consulate General in Lagos invites non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, and individuals working in 17 states in southern Nigeria to submit proposals that seek innovative solutions to challenges facing local communities.
In response to the 2018 call for proposals, the U.S. Consulate received approximately 2000 strong and diverse project submissions, and as a result made awards ranging from $ 3,922 up to $80,000, depending on the proposed scope of activities.  

Chuks Egbune/GEE
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Alarm! Nationwide telecom outage looms as Yahaya Bello shuts down 70 sites, 10 states affected - ITREALMS

The Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) has raised an alarm of imminent telecom outage in the country following the shutdown of some 70 sites by Gov. Yahaya Bello government in Kogi State, reports ITREALMS

The shutdown will affect some 10 states including Kogi and nine others including Nassarawa, Benue, Enugu, Anambra, Edo, Ondo, Ekiti, Kwara, Niger States and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja.

Chairman, ALTON, Engr. Gbenga Adebayo in a chat with ITREALMS in Lagos Monday, extended urgent call to President Muhammadu Buhari to quickly intervene before it becomes too late as the impending blackout will adversely affect the security architecture of the country.

He expressed concern about the shutting down of telecommunications facilities in Kogi State as a result of disputes arising from unusual taxes and levies demanded by the Kogi State Government through its Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning, Ministry of Environment and Mineral Resources, Kogi State Environmental Protection Board, championed by the Kogi State Internal Revenue Service (KIRS).

“This issue is likely to lead to a total communications blackout in the entire Kogi State, parts of Abuja the Federal Capital Territory and possible impact on service availability in some parts of the following States: Nassarawa, Benue, Enugu, Anambra, Edo, Ondo, Ekiti, Kwara, Niger States. These are States sharing borders with Kogi State,” he declared.

This situation, he said, arises as a number of critical telecommunications sites belonging to ALTON members have been closed and sealed up by Kogi State Government in an attempt to increase its Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) collection.

ITREALMS also gathered that this followed an ex-parte court order obtained by the KIRS over unsubstantiated allegations that ALTON members are in default of tax payments to the state government and access to these critical telecom sites has been denied.

This, ALTON said is not simply the truth, stressing that as a result of these actions by the state government, “our members are unable to refuel power generators in these sites, a situation which has led to outage of over 70 sites including hub sites across parts of Kogi State.”

With the likely impact on Nine States of the federation, which surrounds Kogi, namely, “Nasarawa, Benue, Enugu, Anambra, Edo, Ondo, Ekiti, Kwara, Niger States, these are States sharing borders with Kogi State, and Abuja the FCT inclusive,” ALTON lamented.

“We are very concerned that this indiscriminate action has the potential of further leading to a total telecommunications outage in Kogi State with neighboring states and parts of the Federal Capital Territory adversely impacted,” ALTON decried.

The group insisted, however, that “To the best of our knowledge, our members have settled all statutory levies and taxes due to the Kogi State Government and have taken necessary steps to comply with local laws that govern business activities within Kogi State.”

Chuks Egbune/ED, Ops

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Pix: ALTON chair Adebayo speaking with Damain Udeh and Mr. Aremu

Violating FOI Act: MRA wants Presidential rebuke for Ministry of Foreign Affairs - ITREALMS

Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to rebuke the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) for violating the Freedom of Information Act and deceiving Nigerians, reports ITREALMS.

The Ministry, ITREALMS recalled, had on Wednesday, November 14, through its spokesman, Mr. George Ehidiamen Edokpa, issued a public statement which claimed it complied with provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011, and condemned “in strong terms insinuations that the Ministry has consistently breached most of its duties and obligations under the FOI Act over the last seven years.”

The statement was apparently in response to an assessment by Media Rights Agenda (MRA) of the Ministry’s poor performance in the implementation of the FOI Act, as announced by Ms. Chioma Nwaodike, MRA’s Legal Officer, on Monday, November 12, 2018.

It is a matter of grave concern when a public institution like the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, financed through public funds, violates our Laws with impunity. It is doubly worrisome when the same institution uses public resources to mislead and deceive the entire country, when it should be taking corrective measures to remedy its lapses. Such action shows a lack of remorse, insults the intelligence of Nigerians and erodes public trust and confidence in government.

"We call on all relevant authorities, particularly President Muhammadu Buhari, the National Assembly, and the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN) to strongly condemn this conduct as unworthy of a public institution and make clear that such practices, namely violating the provisions of the Law with impunity and the blatant attempt to deliberately mislead and deceive the Nigerian public, will not be condoned by this administration," MRA said in reaction.

Rather than respond to the specific issues of non-compliance which MRA raised, the Ministry has chosen to resort to an omnibus generalization, claiming: “The Ministry also engages in periodic and systematic dissemination of relevant information to the public, of its activities and programmes through regular press briefings, as well as press releases organised by the Crises Monitoring and Public Communications Division.”

MRA insist it was quite clear and specific about the aspects of the FOI Act that it accused the Ministry of failing to comply with.

For the avoidance of doubt, MRA reaffirmed "our position that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has consistently breached most of its duties and obligations under the FOI Act over the last seven years, and provide the following particulars:

· "Section 2(3)(d)(v) of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011 requires every public institution to proactively publish “information relating to the receipt or expenditure of public or other funds of the institution”. We assert that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is in breach of this statutory obligation and has consistently breached this duty over the last seven years and challenge the Ministry to provide any evidence that it is in compliance with this duty under the FOI Act or provide a link to any platform on which it has published this information.

· Section 2(3)(d)(vi) of the Act places an obligation on every public institution to proactively publish “the names, salaries, titles, and dates of employment of all employees and officers of the institution”. We insist that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is in breach of this statutory obligation and has consistently been in breach of the obligation over the last seven years. We challenge the Ministry to provide any evidence that it is in compliance with this duty under the FOI Act or provide a link to any platform on which it has published this information.

· "Section 2(3)(f) of the Act places an obligation on every public institution to proactively publish “the title and address of the appropriate officer of the institution to whom an application for information under this Act shall be sent”. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed in its statement under reference that “Contrary to the misleading report, there is a Desk Officer in the Ministry assigned to handle requests under the FOI Act.” We insist that the Ministry is in breach of this statutory obligation to proactively publish the title and address of such an officer, if indeed it has such a Desk Officer. We further insist that the Ministry has consistently breached this obligation over the last seven years and challenge the Ministry to provide any evidence that it is in compliance with this duty under the FOI Act and provide a link to any platform on which it has published this information. We note further that the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, which has oversight in the implementation of the FOI Act, has, pursuant to his functions under the Act, repeatedly requested all public institutions to supply the Office with the names and contact details of the FOI Desk Officers and that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has consistently failed to supply the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation with the name and contact details or any other information at all relating to its supposed FOI Desk Officer, in consequence of which there is no FOI Desk Officer for the Ministry in the Database of FOI Desk Officers maintained and published by the Federal Ministry of Justice.

· "Section 13 of the Act provides that “Every government or public institution must ensure the provision of appropriate training for its officials on the public’s right to access to information or records held by government or public institutions, as provided for in this Act andfor the effective implementation of this Act.” We assert that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is in breach of this statutory obligation and has consistently breached this duty over the last seven years. We challenge the Ministry to state the date or dates on which it has provided the required training for its officials, who attended the training, who conducted the training and provide any evidence that such training actually took place.

· "Section 29(1) of the FOI Act provides that “On or before February 1 of each year, each public institution shall submit to the Attorney-General of the Federation a report which shall cover the preceding fiscal year …”. As at February 1, 2018, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs ought to have submitted seven such reports to the Attorney-General of the Federation. However, in flagrant disregard of the provisions of the Act, the Ministry has to date only submitted one such report to the Attorney-General of the Federation, which was the report it submitted for the year 2013. We therefore insist that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has consistently been in breach of this obligation over the last seven years.

· "Section 29(2) of the FOI Act states that “Each public institution shall make such report available to the public, among other means, by computer and telecommunications, or if computer and telecommunications means have not been established by the Government or Public Institution, by other electronic means.” We therefore challenge the Ministry to state where and how it has made its annual implementation reports available to the public.

· "We challenge the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to state how many applications for information it has received every year over the last seven years, the number of such applications for information that it has processed and granted as well as the number of such applications for information it has denied or ignored.

In the face of these facts, there can be no doubt that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has consistently breached most of its duties and obligations under the FOI Act over the last seven years.

Nenye Dom/GEE

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Why Jukuns endorsed Atiku - ITREALMS

ITREALMS:
The apex Jukun socio-political organization Jukuns Development Association of Nigeria (JDAN) and other groups such as Jukuns Leaders of Thoughts (JLT) as well as women and youth groups have resolved to support the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and his running mate Peter Obi in the 2019 Presidential election slated for February next year.

Briefing newsmen after an emergency meeting of the leaders of the Jukun nation in Lagos on Friday, JDAN National President Chief Bako Benjamin, said the endorsement followed “very wide consultation among our people.”

He said this is coming on the heels of what the Jukun nation has suffered in recent time, and the orgy of killings of thousands of innocent Jukuns in the hands of marauding herdsmen.

“We are bothered as a people and we have decided to take our destiny in our hands and make our stand concerning this very important election known to Nigerians and the rest of the world ahead of the coming polls,” Benjamin said.

He lamented that the Jukun people never had it tougher than they are presently going through in recent history.

He recounted how hundreds of his people were displaced, killed, and exiled from their farms and ancestral homes by marauding herdsmen, who also burnt down their victims’ farms without protection and support from the government.

According to him, the Jukun people are not happy that their homelands have been turned into a land flowing with blood of innocent farmers by marauding gun totting herdsmen. “Rather than sending words of sympathy, support and protection, soldiers were instead sent to shoot our youths who dare to defend themselves and their communities, arresting many unarmed youngsters and ignoring the murderous herdsmen who were provided cover while they made their escape with their guns.”

Benjamin said the Jukuns were filled with high hopes when President Muhammadu Buhari assumed office having being helped by our son Gen. TY Danjuma, but we soon regretted when he stabbed us in the back with betrayal.

He said all Jukuns will prefer to try Atiku in the coming election and “we would massively vote for him at the poll.”

Uboshe Uboshe/GEE

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2019: Credible elections non-negotiable says Yakubu - ITREALMS

The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Nigeria, Prof Mahmood Yakubu has reaffirmed the Commission's commitment and determination to deliver credible elections in Nigeria in 2019, which will embody the concepts of inclusiveness, transparency and accountability, by also ensuring that established rules are fully, fairly and impartially enforced, reports ITREALMS.

“At the risk of stating the obvious, let me say that INEC is deeply committed to democratic elections in the belief that the outcome can contribute to political stability and consolidation of democracy, which will foster rapid economic progress,” the INEC boss said in Lagos on Thursday, 15th November, while delivering the 6th Anniversary Lecture of Realnews Magazine, one of Nigeria’s pioneer online magazines.

Yakubu, who is also President, governing board of the ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commissions (ECONEC), explained that INEC “continues to think innovatively and to consolidate several tools” towards addressing emerging challenges related to the delivery of credible elections in Nigeria, whose registered voters are more than the populations of several African countries combined.

He, however, said that “INEC alone cannot do the job,” and therefore “counts on the goodwill and collaborative partnership of other stakeholders.”

The INEC boss gave a run-down of the Commission's preparations for the 2019 polls, and also identified seven challenges that could impact smooth electoral process in Nigeria. According to him, these include the "do or die mentality of some members of the political class;” “vote-buying;” “lack of internal democracy within political parties;” and “incendiary speech” by political actors.

Others are “election security,” which he said, was “beyond the responsibilities and capabilities of INEC;” “impunity and lack of consequences for electoral offenders,” which he said could be addressed through the establishment of Electoral Offences Commission/Tribunal for easy disposal of election cases; and lastly, the ever increasing number of “litigation and conflicting Court Orders,” requiring the attention of the Commission.

Prof Yakubu lauded Realnews Publisher/Editor Ms Maureen Chigbo and her team, for their excellent professional job.

In his goodwill message, Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas, UN Special Representative and Head, UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel, charged Nigerian political actors and the media to bear in mind that “elections in Africa’s most populated country and largest economy have implications for the entire continent and beyond.”

He noted that while “accurate and dispassionate reporting of electoral events will help to educate the electorate and contribute towards informed choice from among competing candidates, biased reporting and deliberate falsehoods (fake news), on the other hand, could “contribute to distorting the choices of the voters and election-related violence, while “hate speech leads ultimately to hateful acts.”

Renowned Nigerian journalist and chairman of the Petroleum Trust Fund, Dr Haroun Adamu, who chaired the well-attended lecture themed: Political Transitions and Africa's Economic Development; urged online publications to leverage the benefits of social media platforms to positively impact “the minds, hearts and ultimately the fingers of voters in achieving a desired outcome.”

In her welcome address, Ms Chigbo described credible election as a necessary step towards speedy socio-economic development with visionary leaders and appropriate policies.

The lecture was followed by a question and answer session and a Panel Discussion featuring Dr Charles Okeke, a professor of economics, College of Southern Nevada, Las Vegas, US; Prof Adebayo Olukoshi , Director, Africa and West Asia Regional Programme and Liaison Office to the African Union; and Engr Simbi Wabote, Executive Secretary, Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board, who was represented.

Seven new members - Prof Yakubu, Dr Adamu, Dr. Okeke, Prof Olukoshi, Engr Wabote, Mr Paul Ejime and Sir Elvis Emecheta – were later inducted into the Realnews Hall of Fame.

Previous inductees include Dr Chambas, Dr Oby Ezekwesili, Nigeria’s former Education Minister, Prof Charles Soludo, former Central Bank Governor, and Prof. Maurice Iwu, former Chairman of Nigeria’s Electoral Commission and Dr. Ngozi Anyaegbunam, President, Media World.

Ms Chigbo explained that the gesture “is our own modest way of honouring Lecturers and Speakers at our Anniversary Lectures for their contributions to knowledge and national development, and also for recognising Realnews Ambassadors.


Nenye Dom/GEE

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Pix: Prof Yakubu receiving the investiture plaque and Realnews publications

Why I convened Child Online Safety NG says Olamide Thompson-Odeneye - ITREALMS

ePersonality@ITREALMS:
With over 13-year work experience as Sales, Marketing and Business Operations professional in the Information Technology (IT) sector, Olamide Thompson-Odeneye holds a Diploma in Computer Science, B.Sc in Statistics from the University of Ilorin and PGD in Management from The Lagos State University amongst other IT related certifications. Today, she ventured into Child Online Safety (COS) NG as the convener, sharing with us why COS has become expedient for Nigerian children. She spoke to ITREALMS Editor, REMMY NWEKE.Excerpts:
ITREALMS: Lets meet you briefly?
Olamide Odeneye:   My name is Olamide Thompson-Odeneye. A multi-skilled sales expert with over 13-year experience in the Information Technology (IT) industry. Currently the convener of Child Online Safety NG. A group focusing on pushing cybersecurity awareness to children.

Also, Olamide has various certifications from various Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) as a seasoned anti-virus expert and was the pioneer Vice Chairman of the Lagos Branch of Cyber Security Experts Association of Nigeria. She just finished her tenure as the chairman of the same Branch. She is also a member of the Experts Group (under the Senate committee on ICT and Cybercrime), She Secures and Women in Cyber Security.
She works with Zenith Technology Limited as a product manager and is currently the convener of Child Online Safety NG. A group of Professionals, Educators and concerned parents who have volunteered to push cybersecurity awareness to children and to equip children/teachers/parents with the skills they need to remain safe online.

ITREALMS: Tell us more on this Child Online Safety NG and its activities?

Olamide Odeneye: At Child Online Safety NG, we are a group of professionals, educators and concerned parents who are interested in pushing cybersecurity awareness, internet safety and Netiquttes to children in Nigeria.

ITREALMS: When was it formed or established?
Child Online Safety NG was formed in September 2018.

ITREALMS: What was the inspiration of forming this Child Online Safety NG?

Olamide Odeneye: We discovered there was a gap and no one was discussing the possible dangers online or how the children can remain secure while on the Internet.

ITREALMS: So, do you have any upcoming event or future plan for this project.

Olamide Odeneye: We joined up the Kenya Cybersecurity and forencsics association to push their CORA campaign in Nigeria. It is interesting to note that the same campaign was also adopted in Gambia and Rwanda.

ITREALMS: What is CORA?

Olamide Odeneye: CORA stands for Child Online Risk Awareness campaign
ITREALMS: Congratulations, so what are we expecting anytime soon from the group and do you have any targets?

Olamide Odeneye: This started in September and we have had the opportunity to visit a few schools to talk to the students, attend parent forums and generally any other event that affords us such an opportunity.
We were lucky to also be listed as Stop Think Connect partners just this month. We also spoke on Child Online Safety at the just concluded US Consulate Lagos Cybersecurity Awareness programme in October.
Very grateful to my friends at International Center for Leadership and Development for the collaborative efforts we have both had in reaching out to children during NCSAM.

ITREALMS: How many of these children do you intend to cover in the next one year or two?

Olamide Odeneye: We are hoping to be able to reach as many children as possible.
2019 will be our kick off year as we are currently solidifying relationships with similar groups who work with children so we can have a better outreach.
We are also studying the success of CORA campaigns that ran in the other African countries with a view to implementing some of those ideas here in Nigeria.
Also, we were also lucky to have had the opportunity to discuss internet safety with Children who were invited to the "catch them young" session at the just concluded CYSEC conference in Abuja which took place in October.

ITREALMS: Now what advice do you have for parents or children as the case may be on managing online safety in Nigeria?

Olamide Odeneye: We hope to have 4 major meet-ups next year to further help us to reach more children in addition to our school visitations.
Olamide Odeneye: 1.online safety starts at home. We advise parents to ensure all their software is updated; (2) We talk to them about ensuring they use very good passwords. (3) We talk about the important of supervision and monitoring the activities of their children online. (4) Ensure privacy settings are turned on for the various apps or websites they visit.
It’s important for parents to also learn how to become trusted adults that children can come freely if they have anything that upsets or confuses them online
For the kids, we discuss the SMART rules.

ITREALMS: So, what is SMART rules?

Olamide: SMART rules are for online safety, so the SMART rules have been developed to help keep children and young people safe online.
S encourages users to stay safe by not giving out personal information online.
M highlights the dangers of meeting someone who you only know online.
A warns users that accepting emails, pictures or texts from unknown people can be risky.
R reminds users that information they find online may not always be reliable.
T encourages children to always tell a parent, carer or trusted adult if something or someone online makes them feel uncomfortable.

Can you share with us your social media handle?
Olamide Odeneye: Social media handle is @safety-ng and mine is @Miiday to follow our activities. Volunteers are welcome, they can email us at admin@cos.org.ng or funmi@cos.org.ng


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"We’ve supported infrastructure growth in Rivers State with N14.86bn" – ITREALMS

The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) says out of the over N41billion disbursed for community projects in Niger Delta, about N15billion went to Rivers State under the Global Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), reports ITREALMS.

“Between 2006 and end of 2017, a total of N14.86 billion has been invested by the SPDC Joint Venture in the GMoU clusters in Rivers State, giving communities a highly-valued opportunity to decide and implement projects and programmes that have a lasting impact on people’s lives,” said the General Manager, External Relations of SPDC, Igo Weli, on Saturday in Port Harcourt at the 2018 edition of the Nigerian Society of Engineers Port Harcourt Branch Week.

Weli, who spoke on the role of oil and gas sector in the infrastructure development of Rivers State, said the SPDC JV funding enabled 19 GMoU clusters in Rivers State to embark on projects covering health, education, water and power supply improvement, sanitation and infrastructure development. He added that the success of the GMoU initiative proved what could be achieved when government, international oil companies, communities and NGOs worked together for the common good.

Under the terms of the GMoU, SPDC JV provides secure five-year funding for communities to implement development projects of their choice, which are managed by Cluster Development Boards under the guidance of mentoring NGOs.

On social infrastructure, Weli listed the N1.5billion ultramodern library donated by Shell to the state government to commemorate Nigeria’s centenary celebration, and the establishment of a Community Health Insurance Scheme at Obio Cottage Hospital in Port Harcourt where the average number of patients increased from about 600 to about 7,500 per month in 2017, making it one of the most utilised health facilities in the area. He said 10 other hospitals in Rivers State also enjoyed ‘robust health intervention scheme by SPDC JV’.

In education, he cited the establishment of the first centre of excellence in Marine Engineering and Offshore Technology at Rivers State University in Port Harcourt in 2017, which has commenced programmes leading to the award of Master’s degrees in Marine Engineering (Power Plants), Naval Architecture and Offshore and Subsea Engineering. This, he said was in addition to the many SPDC JV scholarship schemes which date back to the 1950s.

On the statutory role of the oil and gas sector in infrastructure development in Niger Delta, Weli noted that each player in the sector was expected to contribute 3% of its annual budget to the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) for the purpose of facilitating the rapid, even and sustainable development of the Niger Delta region into an area that is economically prosperous, socially stable, ecologically regenerative and politically peaceful. “Between inception of NDDC in 2002 and the end of 2017, Shell companies alone contributed N338.12billion to the commission,” he said.

He noted that the responsibility for the development of communities, societies or states resides primarily with government and community stakeholders themselves. “It stands to reason therefore that abdicating that responsibility for development to the private sector either fully or substantially is, in my assessment, one of the key issues militating against sustainable development not just of Rivers State but of the Niger Delta.”

He frowned on the expectation that private sector should take on the role of government even after fulfilling their statutory obligations to the state and investing as much as their businesses can carry in social investments in the host communities. “This is not sustainable and perhaps accounts for the steady drop or reduction in investments, hence the dwindling opportunities in employment, contracts, and so on, in the Niger Delta in the past two decades.”

Weli added: “The region is no longer very attractive to investors because of the unrealistic demand and entitlement mindset. The future of the Niger Delta is in the hands of private investors, therefore stakeholders need to re-set their expectations and approach to achieve sustainable growth and development. Investors are to be wooed and investments, attracted, not taken for granted.”

He therefore appealed for a conducive operating environment to enable the private sector do business profitably without fear so that they could implement social investment projects and programmes.

He said: “For the private sector, including the oil and gas industry to support the state for infrastructure development, the state, as a matter of policy, and the people, as a matter of dogged commitment, must resolve to make the state peaceful, friendly, attractive and competitive.”




Ayo Midele/GEE




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News Express 'hardcopy' goes life Tuesday @2018 Lecture - ITREALMS


Leading Nigerian online daily newspaper, News Express (newsexpressngr.com), has introduced its hardcopy edition under News Express Special Print Edition, a periodic all-gloss magazine scheduled to debut Tuesday, November 20, 2018 in Lagos, reports ITREALMS.

Disclosing this, the publisher, Mr. Isaac Umunna, said in a statement available to ITREALMS at the weekend, said that the unveiling of the magazine would be one of the highlights of the News Express 6th Anniversary Lecture & Economic Forum holding that day at the main hall of Sheraton Hotel & Towers, Ikeja, in the heart of Lagos.

“It has always been our desire to extend our tentacles to print journalism as we believe that print remains relevant in the information dissemination mix despite the increasing dominance of online. We are happy to finally be in a position to answer the call of readers and advertisers who have emotional attachment to print journalism,” Umunna said.

He disclosed that while News Express is known breaking news and global updates, “each edition of the magazine would be a collector’s item rich in insightful articles, revealing interviews and exclusive stories.”

The News Express 6th Anniversary Lecture, which has as theme, Transparency – Bedrock of Sustainable Development, will be delivered by the Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Ms. Hadiza Bala Usman.

There will also be keynote speeches by four other eminent Nigerians, namely, the Honourable Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Lagos State, Kehinde Bamigbetan; Executive Director of Media Law Centre, Richard Akinnola; Manager, Corporate Communications and Public Affairs, Nigeria LNG Limited, Andy Odeh; and National President of the Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN), Emeka Rollas Ejezie.

The News Express Anniversary Lecture and Economic Stakeholders’ Forum is an annual programme that has an established trend of bringing together important business and political leaders from across the country, as well as multifarious professionals and influential media stakeholders.

News Express, which debuted on August 29, 2012, is one of Nigeria’s most popular and influential online dailies. It is read by hundreds of thousands of people around the world and records annual traffic of upwards of 100 million.

Nenye Dom/GEE

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Presidential hopeful promises to return Nigeria to path of progress, peace - ITREALMS

ITREALMS:
The Presidential candidate of Accord Party, Isaac Babatunde Ositelu has promised to rebuild Nigeria’s broken infrastructure if he emerges as president in next year’s crucial presidential election, reports ITREALMS.

Ositelu, an engineer with diverse local and international industry experience, also vowed to unite Nigerians, regardless of tongue and creed.

Ositelu who is scheduled to kick-off his campaign across the country this week, spoke to newsmen on Sunday in Lagos on his march to Aso Rock, Nigeria’s seat of power in Abuja.

Speaking on his four-pronged action plan to restore Nigeria back to the path of economic prosperity, security stability and social order, he stressed that food security, portable water, affordable healthcare delivery and power to all nooks and crannies of Nigeria are his mandatory deliverables to all Nigerians.

According to him, the energy crisis in Nigeria is tractable and it does not require rocket science to give uninterruptible power to every homes and businesses in Nigeria. Riding on his wealth of experiences in Canada, United Kingdom (UK), United States of America (USA) and Nigeria where he has had both academic qualifications and job experiences, he said that mini grid power structure and containerized/motorized power grids would be deployed to various parts of Nigeria on need basis as an emergency intervention scheme. Pledging to partner with the legislature, he assured that requisite reforms and constitutional amendments would be undertaken in order to give legal muscle to the revolutionary changes to the power industry in the interests of the Nigerian nation.

He said that the multitude of the energetic and youthful Nigerian population would be motivated to be more productive once the power crisis is resolved. He said that the projected positive trajectories in the power industry will entice many renowned brands to return to Nigeria. And the causal effect would lead to significant improvement in the performance of the real sector of the economy and greater boost to the nation’s GDP. According to him, as more hands are meaningfully engaged the incessant criminal activities would significantly scale down.

The Accord Party flag bearer said that any government that focuses on solving the country’s energy crisis would have significantly addressed one of the major challenges facing Nigeria.

“We all appreciate the importance of power and how its availability can radically change our economy and life generally. But it is very unfortunate that this problem has refused to go, despite all the interventions, both by the previous governments and even the current one.

“However, we all know that at the center of this failure is leadership and capacity. Let me state once again that we are in this race to rebuild Nigeria and return her to the path of growth and development. We have what it takes to bring back those good old years of competence, excellence, development, respect for human life and dignity and hope.

“Outside power, we all know that other national infrastructures are in dire straits and nobody is doing anything to reverse this ugly situation that has remained for so long.

“On our honor, we promise to immediately commence this reconstruction of our great country from many years of brokenness that has left our people confused, skeptical and alienated. In the days ahead, we will unveil our blueprint. We are also going to be discussing our strategies with our teeming supporters who are already upbeat and expectant about a great future that we have promised.

Ositelu restated his commitment to embark on the door-to-door engagements with all stakeholders through neighbourhood interactions. “We are confident of victory because the masses are with us. So, we are driving our campaign in agreement with long-suffering Nigerian citizens who are tired of promises that lead to nowhere. This is our chance and I know the people of Nigeria will cease this moment by coming out and voting massively for Accord Party for that future that we all desperately want”.

While assuring that Accord Party, established about eleven years ago with significant strides in the polity, will not make any esoteric promises to the Nigerian people, he assured that the party would stand on its honour to provide at least two square meal to every citizen on a daily basis, access to portable water, uninterrupted power supply and technology enabled healthcare for all both in the rural and urban centres. 

Ayo Midele/GEE

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