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Rules are necessary, but they are not enough – TI Chair

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By Abdullahi Mohammed

 

The chair of Transparency International (TI), Ms Delia Ferreria Rubio has said that although rules are necessary, they are not enough. She said this to the Minister of Information, Lai Muhammed, when she paid him a courtesy visit in his office together with Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, the Executive Director of Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) – local chapter of TI – during her visit to Nigeria.

She said that TI, through it’s local chapter in Nigeria – CISLAC – is willing to cooperate with the Ministry in the fight against corruption. She also asked that the fight be institutionalised so the same issues do not arise when another government comes into power.

In his response, the Minister, Lai Muhammed, welcomed the TI chair to Nigeria and thanked the TI chair for making Nigeria her first point of call in Africa. He mentioned that there is no government that has been as transparent as this administration.

“TI and CISLAC fail to see and appreciate the sociological dynamics of fighting corruption. They do not look at the picture but condemn the efforts of the government, like in tha case of the Corruption Perception Index (CPI)”

“NGOs have constituted themselves as an opposition party. There should be constant interaction with the government instead.”

While pointing out that TI only collates the report of the perception of corruption from various institutions like the World Bank and analyses it, the Executive Director of CISLAC, Mr Auwal, stated that NGOs support the government when they are doing well and raise red flags in areas where they are not doing well. He also mentioned that CISLAC has in various capacities interacted with government and have assisted in capacity building in so many areas, which shows that the organisation is interested in the success of the country.

The Minister mentioned that his office is open for collaboration to aid the government in its fight against corruption.

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OPINION / METRO REPORT : The Increasing rate of Baby mamas

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By Our Correspondent

It is no longer news that high profile millionaire blogger, Lina Ikeji is pregnant and expecting a baby boy. She made this known via her instagram page, stating that she was very happy and it was a dream
come true.

Suffice to known that Linda is engaged but yet to be married and it is generally believed that the man who proposed to her is responsible for, or the father of the child she is carrying.

Also recently, Wizkid was accused of being a useless father by the one of the mother of his children because he has three children with different women and he is still single and unmarried.

As for award winning musician 2face Idibia aka 2baba, he has over 5 children and finally returned to marry one of his baby mamas Annie, while the other ladies are left to fend for themselves and their
children becoming single mothers.

It is pertinent to note that these persons mentioned earlier Linda, Wizkid, 2 baba Idibia, are public figures born within the early 80s and 90s, and are role models to a lot of young people.

Permit me to background Linda Ikeji, who was born and raised in a Catholic family from Nkwerre, Imo State. She is the second child, she began writing at the age of 10. She finished secondary school at the
age of 17 and, at 18, enrolled at the University of Lagos, where she studied English language. Ikeji graduated from the University in 2004.

In 2006, she started blogging as a hobby, all this portrays her as a
role model to a lot of young women having achieved so much at a young
age.

Linda is also known to preach celibacy as she is from a Christian background that advocates marriage before children that means you should have children after you get married and not otherwise.

According to Linda Ikeji, ‘‘I preached celibacy to young girls because I feel that is the right way to live until you meet that someone very special that you love. Passing body around and having multiple
partners is not the way and I stand by it’’.
When it comes to sexual pleasure in the Bible, it is often spoken of in the context of marriage and reproduction. There are some Christians that feel that the only reason for sex is reproduction and there are others that believe that there are higher reasons for sex, including the ultimate joining together of a married man and woman joining their two spirits, joining their two minds, and joining their two bodies.

The Bible is not explicit on sex practices between married people. In Hebrews 13:4 we are told that the marriage bed is to be undefiled, it does not say what it means. There are a number of practices of love
and sexuality in which the Bible is silent. Because of this, it is difficult to determine what is right and this is wrong. The general rule here is if it’s not from faith, it is sin.

In the Old Testament, the term for sexual intercourse was “to know” a husband or a wife. The most intimate knowledge of a partner comes
through this joining. Rather than prohibit sexual pleasure, the Bible shows that it is a gift from God.

Against this backdrop, a lot of concerns have been raised regarding our coming generation, the young ones below 18years who are still children, the upcoming children who will be celebrated next week
during the international children’s day.

It is disheartening to consider what this age group, what are they learning from their role models, what our children are being exposed to and then a group of young ladies that have decided to legitimize
having children out of wedlock, a generation that enjoys the public intake of alcohol and drugs, a role model that tolls the wrong part but still finds a good way to justify the act making it appear good.

In the early 80s, when a lady gets pregnant out of wedlock, she is either sent to the village to have the baby because of the shame she has brought upon herself, or she is made to abort the baby.

But that has obviously been swept under the carpet changed as a lot of ladies come on social media to flaunt their baby bumb, most of which are not married, this however brought about the name Baby Mama as classy name for single mothers.

Baby mama are young women who got sexually active and in the act got pregnant outside wedlock and have looked for an avenue to incorporate themselves into the society to gain acceptance and bring innocent children into a default home because they are single mothers.

This is not suppose to condemn or judge ladies who have fallen into the act unlawfully but considering the upcoming generation that is exposed to this trend and is expected to learn something which will
equally define their future, permit me to say that the increasing rate of single mothers in Nigeria remains unacceptable and must be curbed and not celebrated.

Reports show that there are 2 million single parents in the UK and 92%
of them are single mothers. Research shows that children from single parent families are more likely to suffer poor health, do badly at school, and fall into crime or drugs abuse when they are teenagers.
These facts are not entirely true, as there are many children from
single parent families who have excelled in all areas of their lives and are very successful.

Our correspondent spoke with Mrs Binta Mohammed, a counselor with one Abuja church as she asked us not to mention, who said that it was not the will of God that women should have children outside marriage but it would be double sin, if a word like that exist to murder a child
after a sin of fornication, which is sex outside marriage.

According to her, the sin of the flesh is one of the easiest sins to fall into, but a woman must be aware that the power to commit or not commit the sin lies in her hands except on forceful occasion.

Binta noted that every young couple should avoid secluded and private places which will encourage the act because bringing a child into the world without the presence of a father figure leave a lasting outcome
on such a child.

“When you meet a child that grew up without one parent either the man or the omen, it is always obvious, because a man cannot play the role of a woman and vice versal.

In a nutshell, young ladies must begin to respect their bodies and ensure that children who come into the world have a stay home father figure at all times. Parenthood is the biggest undertaking you’ll ever
face, it a lot better to take it with a partner.

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Amnesty International Accuse Nigerian Security Forces of Raping Boko Haram Victims for Food

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By Abdullahi Mohammed

 

It was disheartened revelation as Amnesty International exposed  how Nigerian security forces rape thousands of women in the troubled Northeast in exchange for food.

In a new report released Thursday titled “They betrayed us”, the global rights group reported “how the Nigerian military and Civilian Joint Task Force (Civilian JTF) have separated women from their husbands and confined them in remote ‘satellite camps’ where they have been raped, sometimes in exchange for food.”

The JTF is a militia working alongside the Nigerian military in the campaign against the insurgency in the Northeastern part of Nigeria.

Amnesty International  said it has collected evidence that thousands of people have starved to death in the camps in Borno state, north-east Nigeria, since 2015.

“It is absolutely shocking that people who had already suffered so much under Boko Haram have been condemned to further horrendous abuse by the Nigerian military,” said Osai Ojigho, Director of Amnesty International Nigeria.

“Instead of receiving protection from the authorities, women and girls have been forced to succumb to rape in order to avoid starvation or hunger.”

According to the group, in some cases, the abuse appeared to be part of a pattern of persecution of anyone perceived to have a connection to Boko Haram.

It said women had reported being beaten and called “Boko Haram wives” by the security officials when they complained about their treatment.

“As Nigeria’s military recovered territory from the armed group in 2015, it ordered people living in rural villages to the satellite camps, in some cases indiscriminately killing those who remained in their homes. Hundreds of thousands of people have fled or were forced from these areas.

“The military screened everyone arriving to the satellite camps, and in some locations detained most men and boys aged between 14 and 40 as well as women who travelled unaccompanied by their husbands. The detention of so many men has left women to care for their families alone.

Rape Of Starving Women, Sexual Exploitation

“Scores of women described how soldiers and Civilian JTF members have used force and threats to rape women in satellite camps, including by taking advantage of hunger to coerce women to become their “girlfriends”, which involved being available for sex on an ongoing basis.

“Five women told Amnesty International that they were raped in late 2015 and early 2016 in Bama Hospital camp as famine-like conditions prevailed.

“Ama (not her real name), 20, said: ‘They will give you food but in the night they will come back around 5pm or 6pm and they will tell you to come with them… One [Civilian JTF] man came and brought food to me. The next day he said I should take water from his place [and I went]. He then closed the tent door behind me and raped me. He said I gave you these things, if you want them we have to be husband and wife’.

“Ten others in the same camp said that they were also coerced into becoming ‘girlfriends’ of security officials to save themselves from starvation. Most of these women had already lost children or other relatives due to lack of food, water and healthcare in the camp. The sexual exploitation continues at an alarming level as women remain desperate to access sufficient food and livelihood opportunities.

“Women said the sexual exploitation follows an organized system, with soldiers openly coming into the camp for sex and Civilian JTF members choosing the “very beautiful” women and girls to take to the soldiers outside. Women reported they were too afraid to refuse demands for sex.

“Sex in these highly coercive circumstances is always rape, even when physical force is not used, and Nigerian soldiers and Civilian JTF members have been getting away it. They act like they don’t risk sanction, but the perpetrators and their superiors who have allowed this to go unchallenged have committed crimes under international law and must be held to account,” said Mr Ojigho.

Deaths As A Result Of Hunger

According to the statement, people confined in the satellite camps faced an acute food shortage from early 2015 until mid-2016, when humanitarian assistance was increased.

“At least hundreds, and possibly thousands, died in Bama Hospital camp alone during this time. Those interviewed consistently reported that 15 to 30 people died each day from hunger and sickness during these months. Satellite images, showing how the graveyard inside the camp expanded quickly during this time, confirm their testimonies. There were also daily deaths in other satellite camps such as those in Banki and Dikwa.

“From June 2016, the UN and other humanitarian agencies scaled up assistance in the satellite camps. Despite this, many women reported continued barriers to accessing adequate food, exacerbated by restrictions on their ability to leave the camps.

“A number of women who arrived in satellite camps in Dikwa town in mid-2017 have not received any food assistance since they arrived and described ongoing hunger, sickness and deaths within their camps.

“Yanna (not her real name), who arrived in Dikwa in late-2017 and lived in Fulatari camp, told Amnesty International: “People are dying, [always there is a burial, burial, burial. I was thinking maybe one day it will be my own.”

“Even where government and international NGOs distribute food, large-scale corruption has prevented many people from accessing it.

“Confining people to camps without enough food, despite the fact that those administering the camps knew the conditions were leading to deaths, violates human rights and international humanitarian law. Those who allowed this to happen may be guilty of murder,” said Mr Ojigho.

Women Detained In Giwa Barracks
Amnesty International said its research further revealed that hundreds of women along with their children have been held in the notorious Giwa Barracks detention centre since 2015.

“While most have been released, an unknown number remain in military detention.

“Many of those detained since 2015 had been victims of abductions or forced marriages by Boko Haram and were detained by the military for being so-called ‘Boko Haram wives’ instead of being rescued.

“Amnesty International received five reports about sexual violence in Giwa barracks, while seven women said they gave birth inside their dirty, overcrowded cells without any medical assistance. At least 32 babies and children, and five women, have died in detention since 2016.

“The detention of women and girls on the basis that they were allegedly married to Boko Haram members is unlawful under international human rights law and Nigerian law, and is discriminatory,” said Mr Ojigho.

Boko Haram Abuses

“Women interviewed often spent months or years living under the repressive rule of Boko Haram. Some reported being forced into marriages with Boko Haram members or being flogged when caught breaking the armed group’s strict rules. Seven said they witnessed the executions of family members or neighbours after unsuccessful attempts to escape.

Time For Action

“Since 2015, various NGOs and humanitarian organizations have reported sexual violence and deaths in camps for internally displaced people in north-east Nigeria. While the authorities frequently promised to investigate such reports, there has been no tangible action to address the problem and no one appears to have been brought to justice. It is not always clear if these investigations were carried out as no reports have been made public.

“In August 2017, the Acting President of Nigeria Yemi Osinbajo established the Presidential Investigation Panel to review the military’s compliance with its human rights obligations. Many women testified before the Panel, which submitted its report to President Muhammadu Buhari in February 2018.

“Now is the time for President Buhari to demonstrate his frequently expressed commitment to protect the human rights of displaced people in north-east Nigeria. The only way to end these horrific violations is by ending the climate of impunity in the region and ensuring that no one can get away with rape or murder,” said Mr Ojigho.

“The Nigerian authorities must investigate – or make public their previous investigations – on war crimes and crimes against humanity in the north-east. They must also urgently ensure, with the support of donor governments, that people living in the satellite camps receive adequate food, and that those arbitrarily detained in military detention facilities are released.”

“Amnesty International’s report is the result of an extensive investigation involving more than 250 interviews and covers satellite camps established by the military in seven towns in Borno state, including Bama, Banki, Rann and Dikwa. It also includes interviews with 48 women and girls released from detention and the review of video, photographic and satellite imagery.”

Amnesty International said it shared its findings with the Nigerian authorities but, at time of publication, “no response has been received.”

Military Reacts

In its reaction, the Nigerian military said it has received credible intelligence report of a plan by Amnesty International (AI) to “release a false report on fictitious rape incidents in IDP camps in the North-east region of Nigeria. This malicious trend by AI is becoming a frequent ritual and it is rather unfortunate.”

The military’s statement was released by the spokesperson of the Defence Headquarters, John Agim, a brigadier general.

“In times like this, Amnesty International is expected to apply the natural law of liaison by working with security agencies as partners. This would have been the best way to ensure that insurgency and crisis is completely wiped off rather than engaging in falsehood, maligning the military and painting her in bad light at any slight opportunity.

“The Nigerian military wishes to use this medium to reiterate her commitment to the citizens of our dear nation, that it will abide by all Human Rights Regulations as entered into by Nigeria and also go the extra mile in ensuring that the territorial integrity of our nation is well protected.

“However, the Nigerian military admonishes AI to desist from cooking reports from time to time to demoralize the entire military system and the nation as a whole whose troops are sacrificing their lives in the fight against Boko Haram and other enemies of the country. These false reports which are capable of derailing the good work being done by our patriotic and selfless soldiers must stop.

“Kindly note that we are not in any way implying that AI should not do their job, but such must be done with a level of integrity and credibility by seeking clarification when the need arises. This way a lot will be achieved as both will form partners in the fight against extremism and other vices.

“The Defence Headquarters, therefore, urge all law abiding citizens to continue to trust and support the military in the ongoing war against Boko Haram and go about their normal lawful business.”

Protesters At Amnesty International Headquarters, Abuja on 23/05/2018.

Perhaps in anticipation of the AI report, some persons on Wednesday besieged the Amnesty International office in Abuja to protest against the rights group. The protesters were later caught on camera fighting over money, an indication they were hired for the protest by yet to be identified

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Human rights abuses and the inconsistencies in recruitment, selection for peacekeeping missions By Abubakar Jimoh

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There are indications that faulty recruitment and selection processes by the security forces could be major contributory factors to persistent human rights abuses and violations by Nigerian peacekeeping troops in various United Nations’ missions.

These hints are contained in a 78-pages report titled “Nigeria: Navigating Secrecy in the Vetting and Selection of Peacekeepers” published by the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) in collaboration with Asia Centre for Human Rights, supported by Open Society Institute, New York.

The report attributes persistent human rights violation and abuses by peacekeeping troops to systemic corruption and inconsistencies associating with personnel recruitment and selection of troops for peacekeeping where “personal relationships and political positioning drive the promotion and assignment” activities.

While the reported cases of misconduct by Nigerian and other security forces during peacekeeping missions triggered the development of uniform standards of conduct for all personnel by the United Nations, the report however faults poor implementation and enforcement of the standards by the troop contributing countries including Nigeria.

Narrating the discrepancies in the process of selecting troops to peacekeeping missions, the report reveals that some battalions are loaded with clerks, cooks, batmen and orderlies who can barely handle a weapon, but are well connected to legislators, retired military officers and traditional rulers who influence the selection process, thereby compromising competence and capacity”.

It bemoans actions of some unit commanders who flaw selection process by singlehandedly selecting individuals to be shortlisted, instead of working in conjunction with Department of Army Administration which oversees the administration, welfare, discipline, employment and development of all human resources in the Nigerian Army  to ensure that all of those to be selected are of good conduct.

The report also gives the instances of the inconsistencies in the Nigeria Police Force where appointments into the Force is determined largely by seniority and representation, and influenced by nepotism, political patronage and regime interests and preferences leading to “ineffectiveness”.

“The Police Service Commission, which has responsibility for the recruitment into the police, has published Guidelines for Recruitment into the Nigerian Police, which prescribe the minimum requirement for each of the position in the police.   The Guidelines are an attempt at consistency and due process in the recruitment of police, but in practice, these principles have been largely ignored,” it noted.

Apart from those obtained through the National Human Rights Commission and other civil society organisations, the report reveals that various training activities for new recruits by the Policy Force lack human rights and gender issues component including the peacekeeping pre-deployment training.

Observing the existence of comprehensive and transparent vetting system within the Nigerian Army, the report acknowledges little cross-referencing between the units and Department of Army Administration during selection, adding that the cross-referencing and selection processes are influenced by socio-economic and political factors giving chances to erring personnel with disciplinary cases to be shortlisted and enlisted for peacekeeping operations.

The report expresses worries over lack of emphasis for code of conduct, discipline and integrity during the graduation ceremony with no extension to peacekeeping pre-deployment training, recommending re-evaluation of peacekeeping training in light of the United Nations modules.

On the resultant effects of human rights violation and abuses, the report notes that in 2012 out of 1,377 Nigerian soldiers vetted to receive American training, 211 were rejected or suspended for human rights concerns.

Despite the zero-tolerance policy maintained by the United Nations against sexual exploitation and abuses at peacekeeping level with expressed commitment by Nigeria to the principle of accountability concerning sexual abuse and other criminal acts by its peacekeepers, the report laments lack of documented effort to address the challenge.

“There is no publicly known policy on sexual abuse and harassment in the army. There have been many cases of sexual abuse and harassment by members of the Nigerian armed forces during internal military operations. Recent cases include sexual harassment by soldiers during the campaign against Boko Haram in Kano, Borno and Yobe.

“There have also been similar reports during the JTF campaign in both the Niger Delta and in Jos, Plateau. Those responsible have not been punished. It is possible that some of those involved in these incidents find their way into peacekeeping operations.

“Given that those who have participated in internal operations are considered as having some previous experience, in spite of the fact they might have awful records, they have advantage in being considered for international peacekeeping operations,” the report bemoaned.

It further recalls the cases of peacekeeping operations in Liberia and DRC where many of the soldiers impregnated several women as a clear demonstration of lack of existing policy and action on sexual exploitation and abuse.

At domestic level, the report notes alleged cases of extrajudicial killings, torture, arson, arbitrary arrests and detention, and extortion including destruction of civilian property by security forces in the on-going war against insurgency across the North East.

As part of recommendations, the report suggests appropriate national Policy on Peacekeeping Support Operations to clearly stipulate the principles, criteria, processes and mechanisms for the selection of peacekeeping personnel as well as create civilian oversight mechanisms to ensure transparency and accountability of personnel vetted for participation in peacekeeping operations.

It calls for formulation and implementation of appropriate policies to address recurring cases of sexual exploitation and abuse and human rights violations, and introduction of monitoring system in all components to ensure proper screening for human rights violations.

More importantly, the report recommends gender inclusion in peacekeeping operations to allow women participation in peacekeeping processes as peace-makers, peace-builders, peacekeepers and negotiators both at national and conflict-torn countries.

Abubakar Jimoh is the Head of Communications at Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC). Email: abujimoh01@gmail.com

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