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Human Rights

Deaf student cries out over missing N4.4 million from Governor Ambode

– became deaf inside examination hall

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Anthony Offor
Anthony Offor was a final year student of Political Science at the University of Lagos.

He came down with a mysterious illness inside the examination hall only to become deaf within minutes. Anthony Offor was a final year student of Political Science at the University of Lagos.

With the death of his father shortly after, he was faced with a bleak future as no employer would want to hire him. Determined to claw his way out of a terrifying situation, Offor wrote a letter, appealing to the Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, for help.

Against all odds, the governor responded and took pity on him, approving N4-4 million for what is called cochlea implant surgery.

That was in June 2017. Once the deaf student was told his cheque was ready but the money has remained elusive with the deaf young man suffering a double jeopardy as health ministry officials endlessly toss him from one desk to another.

When SATELLITE TIMES located him, Anthony Offor was literally at his wits end inside a Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) Specialist hospital in Lagos where, communicating only by writing, he made it clear he has been robbed.

My hearing loss

“My predicament started in 2010 while I was writing my final exams at the University of Lagos. I was feeling feverish on campus and at first dismissed it as the normal malaria. It intensified inside the examination hall.

I could see people were talking because their lips were moving but I could not hear a word. Same too with the doctors and nurses who were asking me questions. They could only communicate with me through writing. It was a frightening experience for me.

I got a referral to an ENT hospital where the specialists after examining me said I required to undergo a surgery known as cochlea implant.

At the time in 2010, the cost of the surgery and implant was put at slightly above N3 million. My father could not afford it immediately but promised to run around for it. But about two months after, precisely on November 6, 2010, he died in an auto crash.

That put paid to the surgery. After the death of my father, I forced myself to return to school because I hadn’t written all my last semester papers when that illness struck me. But I could no longer fit into the school system because I could not hear what the lecturers were saying. I however managed to take the last papers and graduated with a Second Class Upper Division.

Tales of woes

“After school, I have faced heart breaking discriminations which persons with hearing loss are made to go through in our society. It has been impossible to find any government ministry, agency or parastatal that is willing to employ someone with hearing loss. Even with my BSC qualification., it has become impossible to secure a job anywhere; not the Army, Police, Customs, among many others. Although I am deaf, my speech is not affected. I can speak and even sing.”

Petition to the governor

A copy of the petition he sent to Governor Ambode was made available to SATELLITE TIMES. It was dated October 17, 2016. In it, Offor appealed to the governor for medical assistance to pay for his surgery.

On November 29, 2016, the governor sent a reply in which he directed the Commissioner for Health, Jide Idris to act on Offor’s matter immediately.

On February 18, 2017 he got a message from the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) to meet a team of ENT doctors on the orders of the state government.

Upon getting to LASUTH, he was shown a letter written by the Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Health, to the Chief Medical Director, Prof. Wale Oke, to convene a medical board and summon him for examination to determine the actual situation in his case and to know the remedy suitable for the type of hearing loss.

In the letter, they were further directed that the findings and recommendation of the board be submitted to the office of the Permanent Secretary, to facilitate the processing of the payment in the ministry.

Offor was told that LASUTH did not have some of the equipment required to carry out the necessary tests on him, like the Radiology test, Audiology test, and CT Scan.

He was given a request form and was told to go to Mecure Diagnostics Centre located at Oshodi to undergo the three tests and return to LASUTH with the results.  He however had to bear the cost of the tests including the administrative cost which totalled about N55, 000.

After so much effort he was able to do all the three tests and returned to LASUTH with the results, together with four X-ray films, one compact disc (the CT scan).

Once again, the panel of LASUTH doctors converged, and this time the Chief Medical Director of LASUTH, Prof. Wale Oke, was in attendance. The medical board quickly came out with their findings and recommendations, that he required a cochlea implant surgery.

Anthony Offor’s medical result

The doctors however took turns in examining his other organs with their gadgets and equally certified him fit and physically healthy for the surgery, and also wrote a referral, ratifying his admission into the relevant clinic; B.S.A. Hearing and Speech Centre, located at 49, Oluwaleyimu Street, off Allen Avenue Ikeja Lagos.

The corrective surgery and implant according to the medical board would cost about N4.4million and the bill was equally forwarded to the office of the Permanent Secretary by the board. An anonymous donor is said to have last year made a mandatory non-refundable deposit of N400,000 to the hospital.

SATELLITE TIMES confirmed that after the medical board had on June 19, 2017 sent their report and recommendations, duly signed by the Chief Medical Director, to the Permanent Secretary as demanded, Anthony Offor was advised to go to the Health Ministry to collect the cheque and proceed to B.S.A Centre for the surgery.

Anthony went to the Health Ministry in high spirit to collect the cheque but to his greatest bewilderment he met with bureaucratic bottlenecks.

Letter of protest by Anthony to the Governor of Lagos

Suddenly, nobody seemed to know where his file is, nobody appeared to have seen the cheque and nobody could be definitive on the way forward. Eighteen months after the ear patient is still in a lurch with the kind governor believing the surgery had long been carried out.

SATELLITE TIMES’ attempts to find out what happened to the N4.4 million took this reporter to the Lagos state Ministry of Health Alausa Ikeja; particularly to the Special Project Unit, Room 516.  The ministry officials there all played dumb, with one later saying that the senior medical officer handling Anthony Offor’s case had gone to represent the Ministry at an event to mark the World Mental Health day.

On a subsequent visit, the Director of Public Affairs, Mrs Adeola Salako, said although her office received a brief in respect of SATELLITE TIMES’ enquiry, she was still looking into the matter for updates. She added that as far as the Ministry is concerned, it was not possible for the funds to be diverted or misappropriated because if money had been made available to Anthony Offor surgery, the cheque would be in his name.

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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