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Human Rights

Army General’s wife cries out “I’m serving a jail term in my husband’s house”

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Aisha Tijani

Aisha Tijani, wife of a General in the Nigerian Army now retired, has cried out for rescue, saying her life is a living hell following 13 years of slavery in the soldier’s house during which she has been confined to a back room in the Boy’s Quarters, made a prisoner in her matrimonial home as she is forbidden to leave the house, denied access to visitors, forced to eat leftover foods and reduced to penury as all her businesses, including a private school, have been forcibly shut down.

Once during these 13 years when she managed to sneak out of the house to attend the dedication ceremony for the baby of a close church member, her husband, Brigadier-General Saidu Aliyu Tijani stormed the church, pounced on her, raining blows and profanities to the
horror of the guests.

The 50-year old Aisha who spoke to SATELLITE TIMES during a secret interview arranged by a neighbour narrated her ordeal saying she married the Army Officer in 1987 and that she had four children for him after which her husband became a changed person. The beleaguered woman recounted amid tears:

“The whole problem started 2006 when I was running a school in Lagos. Then, my husband was out of the country for two years. One day during the long holidays, I took my children to Jos to spend the holidays and the head mistress of the school called me on phone saying I did wrong by closing down the school without informing her. I never closed the school. I later found out that my husband had shut the school and sold the building because he never wanted me to work or do business from the beginning”, Aisha lamented.

She also recalled gaining admission to study Mass Communication at the University of Jos, but after one year in the University, her husband stopped her. Again, she enrolled into College of Education Minna, but was pulled out by her husband.

“Finally, we moved to Jos since he has sold the house in Lagos, then my husband was posted from Jos to Abuja 2006. He stopped sending us feeding allowance after the first two months, then I started taking care of the children by myself but after four months, I couldn’t take it anymore, she expressed.

“In 2007, I gathered the children and drove down to Abuja to stay with him, but he was not happy because before we came, he kept on complaining of no accommodation in Abuja. Surprisingly for me and the children when we came to Asokoro where he was living, it was a huge house. He insisted that we must go back to Jos but I refused and that was when matter got out of hand”, Aisha narrated.

Aisha who said she was literally serving a prison terms in her matrimonial home for offences not known to her added she scavenged to eat on a daily basis while her husband shopped for his own food.

“Nine months after we moved to Abuja, he came one day and said he has gotten a house for us in Suleja, Zuma Barracks in Niger state; that I and the children should leave. We moved because staying with him was frustrating and unbearable. I used my Golf car to move our things three times from Asokoro to Suleja. I complained to him about the condition of the new house because there was no light nor water and he promised to come and fix things but never did”.

When we could not endure the hardship in Suleja, we decided to join him in Abuja but the next day, he gave us N20,000 and took us to the park to go back to Suleja and we complied.

“All these went on until 2013 when he bought the house we are currently living in. He shared the rooms between our son and daughters and said the room upstairs was his and that he was not sharing it with me. Then I started sleeping in the parlour but when my son travelled to school, I moved to the boys-quarter. He doesn’t talk to me nor give me money for food or medications when am sick”.

Mrs Tijani added that in 2015, she stumbled on his husband’s Will dated 2012 and that the Will had instructions for his brother on how to share his property among the children and his brother. She said she had been married to the General for 33 years and that their first child was 32 years, the second was married and living overseas, the third was 24 years old while the last was 20 years old and a student of Covenant University.

SATELLITE TIMES sought the reaction of Brigadier General Aliyu Tijani, (rtd) over the allegations. In a telephone conversation, he initially denied having problems with his wife.

“We don’t have any problems, she is idle. Let her leave if she wants to do so”, he said.

When prodded on the Will that excluded his wife, he held nothing back saying:

“She is the one who told her pastor that I am not her husband, that she has divorced me.

“She left the house; it was her father that even came to beg me to take her back. I am just tolerating her for the sake of God and our children”, he said.

Tijani further added: “if she wants to separate, the road is very easy because I married her under Islamic law, so it’s just for her to pack away. In Islam, there is no complication in separation, you only need to say the word, ‘you are divorced, you are divorced, you are divorced; once you mention it, you are divorced’.

If I drive her to out of my house, there is no where she will go to stay, therefore I am sympathising with her because of God and the children.

Asked whether he could assist his wife in some way to stand on her feet, the General claimed he had been training their children all alone. “I have been feeding her all along, whenever I set up something for her, she will eat the money, she has not contributed kobo to the family. What kind of assistance”? he queried.

Zigi Tijani, the couple’s 24-year old son corroborated his mother’s story, saying there was nothing much the children could do to change the situation at home. He admitted his father acted like he was doing their mother a favour by letting her stay in the house, adding that he feared the worst for his mum now that the story would be out in the media.

This story was published under SATELLITE TIMES human rights investigation series

Human Rights

Displaced Kubwa Village traders cry out for justice

-over 3,000 traders become economic refugees

-send petitions to Presidential Committee, SERAP and ECOWAS

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Some of the displaced traders used to illustrate the story
Some of the displaced traders used to illustrate the story

Thousands of traders in Kubwa Village Market, Federal Capital Territory, have found themselves in a limbo following the takeover of the market they founded 30 years ago by a developer, said to have been imposed on them by authorities of Bwari Area Council, especially under the leadership of an outgoing Chairman, Mr. Musa Dikko. For decades, these ordinary market women and men traded in grains, household items, flours, vegetables, plastic materials, fish, meat, poultry products, groceries, footwear, second-hand clothing and just about everything under the sun.

Chairman Musa Dikko

Chairman Musa Dikko

In the wake of their displacement however, combined hundreds of millions of naira retail businesses have crashed from their heights. While some of the traders resorted to displaying their wares in open places and can be found by the roadside near the reconstructed market, especially around the NYSC Camp, Arab Road and Kubwa Express doing running battle on a daily basis with men of the Environmental Task Force who seize and destroy their goods, the majority of the market founders have crashed to the rock bottom finding no way to pick up the pieces.

A group of the displaced traders, led by Alhaji Samaila Ibrahim visited Satellite Times office and narrated their tales of woes in the hands of the developer, H & I Construction Nigeria Limited. According to Ismail, his group comprised former shopowners in the Kubwa Village Market who were thrown out without compensation to make way for the demolition and reconstruction of the market now renamed Maitama Ultra-Modern Market Kubwa.

Maitama Ultra-Modern Market Kubwa

“We are different from the petty traders you find occupying the open space outside the market. We were the stall and shade owners who built the market from the scratch before the developers came in and dispossessed us in collusion with top officials of the Bwari Area Council. I say we were dispossessed and displaced because no compensation of any form has been paid to us. It is like government building a road and they demolish your house but chose not to pay compensation,” Alhaji Samaila explained.

Continuing with his bitter narrative Samaila Ibrahim, who at one time was the Chairman of the Kubwa Village Traders Association, added that before the demolition he had several stalls with wares valued at over N15 million. With no market to sell his goods, he has lost everything. He said his children are facing so much difficulty in universities that the only option he has to keep them in school is to put his house on sale.

Another popular trader who also has hit ground zero is Alhaji Abubakar Dangaladima. For years he was the major meat supplier to the market, owning six open shades. Each day, he slaughtered and sold five cows. Smaller butchers come to him for the meat they sell. The renowned butcher who came to Satellite Times office logging a big sack full of receipts showed evidence that for each cow he slaughtered, he paid a slaughter fee of N800 to the FCT administration. He is left with no business after the demolition of the market. He put his loses at N17 million.

There is also a meat sub-market which comprised of almost a hundred traders in the meat value chain. All of those traders were displaced by the demolition, which in turn put the subsistence of their families under threat. Many of them can barely feed anymore.

As contained in a petition sent to several local and regional bodies, including the Presidential Committee on Trade Malpractices, the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) and the Socio-Economic Right and Accountability Project (SERAP), the displaced traders insisted that their human and economic rights have been violated by the actions of the developer and the Bwari Area Council.

“We are now economic refugees in our fatherland. We have been denied our rights to earn a living as citizens of Nigeria. Things have fallen apart in all our families. We are victims of gross injustice,” the petition reads in part.

Included in the long list of displaced traders are “Alhaji Umar Seriki Pawa who lost four open shade some of which he collected rent of about N150,000 annually from tenant traders while utilizing one for his own trading activities. Today, he has nothing to feed his family. Then there is Alhaji Ambusa who is popular for selling clothes and wrappers. He too lost a lot of his wealth worth about N7million. We have Alhaji Ismaila Sa’ad Abubakar who lost about N2 million. Alhaji Alwali was a big trader in tomatoes. Less than a year before the demolition, he had bought two N350,000 thousand each. Faced with hardship as a result of the demolition, he later sold his own house. Today, he and his family are cramped in a small rented apartment.

We also have Alhaji Abubakar Mai-Wanke who was popular for selling foodstuffs, especially beans. He lost two shops and a business valued at over N10 million.”

Perhaps the worst casualty of the market takeover is a female trader popularly known as Mama Abdulrasak. An indigene of Edo State, she had taken a big loan which she invested in her business. Without shops to sell her wares, every passing day drew her closer to penury. Hounded by debtors, she was severally dragged to police stations and detained. Finally unable to withstand the heat, she fled, leaving behind her children. Her family is disintegrated as her teenage daughter is said to have taken to prostitution while her son, having dropped out of school is roaming the street with drug abusers as friends.

Hide and Seek engagement

In 2016, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported of a meeting between the Bwari Area Council executive, the Kubwa/Maitama Village Market Traders Association and H & I developers, held at the Bwari Legislative Chambers. The meeting was aimed at finding an out-of-court solution to the issue of demolishing the existing markets for new ones and also to avoid damages that could result from the exercise.

The traders and market developers had been embroiled in a legal battle at the Abuja High Court 34 since 2014. Finally, the warring parties reached an out of court settlement, paving way for a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

However, Samaila Ibrahim said the process leading to the MoU was shrouded in secrecy.

“We only heard there was an MoU, but we never saw it with our eyes. Many of us who are the key stakeholders were left in the dark. What happened was that the market developers and the Council Chairman, Musa Dikko, decided to employ the divide-and-rule tactics. They offered free shops each worth N10 million to the market executives, technically telling the rest of us to go to blazes,” Ismaila said.

Satellite Times obtained shop allocation letters, each dated 21st December 2017, issued by H & I Construction Nigeria Limited to Buhari Ahmed Sauwa (Chairman of the Market Association); Yusuf Musa Sauwa (Assistant Chairman); Mr. S.P Ndubisi Onuoha (LockUp Shop Chairman) and Ugwu Romanus Ifeanyi (Secretary). The documents, each titled: “Allocation Letter for An Open Shop at Maitama Ultra Modern Market, Kubwa Abuja”, show that each shop has a unit sales price of N4,150,000 but “being complimentary” was given free to the beneficiaries.

Allocation letter

Allocation letter

Ismaila said the shops were sold or re-sold at prices ranging from N8 million to N12 million depending on their strategic locations and/or if upstairs or downstairs, with downstairs shops attracting more value because of the easy access to customers.

“The question we must ask is how many ordinary traders can afford N10 million or N12 million for a shop? Obviously, the new market is not built for traders; rather for rich rent-seeking shylock middlemen. We have been excluded and denied the right to earn a living. This is inequality and sabotage of the economic agenda of the President Buhari government. We need justice” Samaila protested.

The Kubwa Market is said to be the oldest market in FCT with a size of 3.8 hectares. The market was relocated from the Maitama district of Abuja when the original inhabitants of Maitama were relocated to Kubwa.  It has 1,467 shops.

Satellite Times visited the office of H & I Construction on Anthony Enahoro Street, Utako Abuja. A staff member of the company by name Khalifa said he was not authorized to speak. This newspaper later contacted Engineer Rabiu of the same company on his mobile. He declined to make comments.

Similarly, several calls were made to Musa Dikko, the outgoing Chairman of Bwari Area Council. The phone rang out on each occasion as he refused to answer.

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Human Rights

Amnesty confirms 60 killed by Boko Haram in Rann

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The false-colour image above highlights the near-infrared band. Healthy vegetation appears red while unhealthy, or burned, areas appear black or brown. On 30 January 2019, hundreds of structures appear heavily burned. Environmental sensors remotely detected fires in the area on 28 and 29 January 2019.

At least 60 people were killed following the 28 January devastating Boko Haram attack on Rann, a border town in Borno state, northeast Nigeria, Amnesty International has confirmed.

The organization also analyzed satellite imagery which shows hundreds of burned structures in the town. Many of the destroyed structures only date back to 2017, suggesting they were shelters for internally displaced people who came to Rann seeking protection.

“We have now confirmed that this week’s attack on Rann was the deadliest yet by Boko Haram, killing at least 60 people. Using satellite imagery we have also been able to confirm the mass burning of structures as Boko Haram unleashed a massive assault on Rann, most of which is now destroyed,” said Osai Ojigho, Director of Amnesty International Nigeria.

Satellite imagery which shows hundreds of burned structures in the town

“This attack on civilians who have already been displaced by the bloody conflict may amount to possible war crime, and those responsible must be brought to justice. Disturbingly, witnesses told us that Nigerian soldiers abandoned their posts the day before the attack, demonstrating the authorities’ utter failure to protect civilians.”

Inadequate security

Alleged withdrawal of troops, triggered a massive exodus of civilians to Cameroon, as fear spread that Boko Haram would take advantage and attack the town. At around 9am on 28 January, a group of Boko Haram fighters arrived on motorcycles. They set houses ablaze and killed those left behind. They also chased after those who attempted to escape and killed some people outside the town.  Eleven bodies were found within Rann town, and 49 bodies were found outside.

The false-colour image above highlights the near-infrared band. Healthy vegetation appears red while unhealthy, or burned, areas appear black or brown. A closer look at one burned area on 30 January 2019 shows the severity of the damage. Many of the structures are new since 2017 suggesting they are shelters for IDPs living in the town.

The false-colour image above highlights the near-infrared band. Healthy vegetation appears red while unhealthy, or burned, areas appear black or brown. A closer look at one burned area on 30 January 2019 shows the severity of the damage. Many of the structures are new since 2017 suggesting they are shelters for IDPs living in the town.

Amnesty International was informed that about 50 people have not been accounted for. Those who took part in the burial explained what they saw.

According to an eyewitness: “Ten of us [Civilian Joint Task Force] came from Cameroon to Rann for the burial. When we arrived, we found and buried 11 corpses within the town, but the soldiers told us that they buried several others yesterday [30 January] who had decayed. Outside the town, we recovered and buried 49 dead bodies all with gunshot wounds.”

Aid agencies have reported that some 30,000 civilians have fled for the border with Cameroon in recent days, joining a further 9,000 who fled Boko Haram’s previous attack on Rann on 14 January.

Satellite evidence of mass burning

Amnesty International analyzed satellite images from 30 January 2019 showing hundreds of structures burned in the east, south and southeast of Rann. Environmental sensors detected fires in the area on 28 and 29 January.

The false-colour image above highlights the near-infrared band. Healthy vegetation appears red while unhealthy, or burned, areas appear black or brown. On 30 January 2019, hundreds of structures appear heavily burned. Environmental sensors remotely detected fires in the area on 28 and 29 January 2019.

In the 14 January attack, Boko Haram burned well over 100 structures in other areas of Rann. These two recent attacks have left most of the town heavily damaged or destroyed.

Amnesty International is calling on Nigerian authorities to investigate the alleged withdrawal of security forces of the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) from Rann, which may have left tens of thousands of civilians exposed to this latest deadly attack.

“Boko Haram has consistently and deliberately targeted civilians in Rann, which makes the Nigerian authorities failure to protect people all the more unacceptable,” said Osai Ojigho.

“The authorities on both sides of the border must provide the supplies and safety that these people require. The Cameroonian authorities must also desist from forcing people to return until conditions are safe and they choose to do so voluntarily.”

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Human Rights

Woman slashes 11-year-old housemaid with kitchen knife

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Woman slashes 11-year-old housemaid with kitchen knife

A young girl only identified as Victoria is currently traumatized and in agonizing pain after she was severely inflicted with knife-injuries by her madam (identified as mummy Pemisire), for allegedly stealing milk.

The attention of this reporter was drawn to this case when a Twitter user, Adex Adebukola Crowngold (@AdexAdebukola) shared a gruesome photo of the child with the caption;

“My attention has just been called to this. The madam did this to her housemaid because she was accused of stealing milk.

“She’s in the hospital and the woman arrested. But justice must prevail. Location is at Ibadan.”

Eyewitness account

Speaking to SATELLITE TIMES newspaper, an eyewitness who begged to remain unnamed, gave an account as it happened on Friday, January 11, in Sanyo area, Ibadan.

“The girl ran out of their apartment with blood stains all over her and madam was still chasing her. The little girl said she tore her body with a knife.”

The 11-year-old victim was eventually rescued by concerned neighbours in Sanyo area, and taken to a nurse for first aid treatment before the Police came to get her the next morning.

When asked about the girl’s current condition and who was responsible for her hospital bill, the eyewitness said “I should think she is fine. I don’t know who is handling her bills. The Police took her to Montana hospital, Challenge area in Ibadan.”

Her madam, Pemisire, was however arrested same night of the incident by the Police and taken to a station in Sanyo, Ibadan.

“The madam should still be in the Police custody. That is if they haven’t released her yet, you know Nigerian Police. She hasn’t returned home since that night,” the witness added.

Efforts to reach the Oyo State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Ajisebutu Adekunle via telephone were initially unsuccessful but he later responded with a text saying “the case is currently under investigation. The CP, Abiodun Odude, has directed that the case should be transferred to the state CIID Iyaganku immediately for discreet investigation and prosecution.”

 

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