Irregularities in the procurement process of rice by the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA for Internally Displaced People, IDP once again is on the front burner.
The House of Representatives concerned over the process adopted by NEMA has queried the Agency to explain why it rejected an offer by the World Food Programme (WFP) to donate rice to internally displaced persons but proceeded to use public funds to purchase 5000 metric tonnes of rice for the same purpose and handed over them to WFP.
The legislators maintained that it is questionable that rather than convince the international agency to patronise local rice processors in the country in order to generate income for the country and boost agriculture, NEMA decided to provide the requested rice to WFP for free.
But Mr Kayode Fagbemi, acting director, Relief and Rehabilitation of NEMA, who represented the director general, Engr Mustapha Maihaja, informed the lawmakers that the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, gave approval to the agency to split the 10, 000 metric tonnes of rice for internally displaced persons into two and give WFP one part in order to aid faster food distribution.
Tempers flared at the hearing when Mr Kayode refused to answer the lawmakers, including Hon Mohammed Nur Sheriff, who represents the worst hit areas of Bama/Ngala/Kalabalge of Borno State, on the rationale behind that decision and his failure to state where the items were supplied to since there were allegations that the IDPs have not received them.
Governments of the five (5) out of the six (6) states which were supposed to have received the rice had, in an earlier hearing by the committee, stated that they have not received any rice from the food intervention programme.
The committee members also sought to know where a quotation allegedly made by Olam Nigeria Ltd for supply of eight metric tonnes of rice which was presented by NEMA to the committee emanated from since Olam duly informed the committee that it did not give any quote to NEMA prior to his engagement for the contract.
Representative of Olam, Vice president, Rice, Reggie George, had earlier, while making a presentation before the committee, explained that his company got to know about the contract through the ministry of Agricultural during a meeting of Rice Processors Associations of Nigeria and though he did not bid or send a quote for the contract, he received an award letter from NEMA to supply rice worth N2.4 billion.
In his submission to the committee, representative of APM Terminal, Mr Daniel Odigbe, said as a terminal operator, 271 containers of rice were received and stored but all the containers have left the port after being cleared by the agency.
He said the rice shipment which was received between June (50 containers), August (120 containers), September (40 containers) and October 2017 (61 containers) incurred a total demurrage of N389, 781 million for storage and delivery.
APT granted waivers to the tune of N183 million based on request by NEMA and the fact that the containers were meant for IDPs and received N 206 million as total payment for storage, delivery and handling cost.
Representative of MAX Nigeria Ltd, the local branch of Maxline, China, Ms Blessing Ebri, said while making a presentation before the committee that a total of N200 million was paid for demurrage for the rice which landed in the port of Lagos in June, 2017, along with a standard import charge of N17 million, after several negotiations with NEMA for waivers which the company agreed on.
Also at the hearing, Dangote Company explained to the committee that it was not involved in rice distribution to IDPs, neither were they engaged by NEMA. The representative of the company said it was engaged in June 2016 by the CBN and given N2 billion for mop up of maize from farmers for off season use, which they did and later released to NEMA on directive by CBN.
Amnesty confirms 60 killed by Boko Haram in Rann
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.
“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.”
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.
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.
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.”
Media groups mourn slain Ghanaian Journalist in Nigeria
– March to Ghana High Commission, open a condolence register in Abuja
Journalists from SATELLITE TIMES newsroom, Safer Media Initiative (SMI) and colleagues from the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Thursday in solidarity mourned the death of Ghanaian Journalist, Ahmed Hussein-Suale who was assassinated in his country on Wednesday, January 16.
Hussein-Suale, an undercover journalist with Tiger Eye, an investigative reporting project founded by Anas Aremeyaw Anas was shot three times by gunmen on a motor bike who eventually drove off without carting away with any valuables from his vehicle.
In solidarity to the fallen hero, journalists from SATELLITE TIMES, Safer Media Initiative and colleagues from the Nigeria Union of Journalist (NUJ) came out, dressed in black to mourn and also condemn the gruesome killing of Hussein-Suale. The ceremony is in continuation of a week-long activity in Abuja and Lagos by investigative reporters bent on seeking justice for their slain colleague in Ghana as well as upholding the ideals for which he gave his life.
Two days earlier, members of Safer Media Initiative took their solidarity march to the Ghana High Commission in Abuja where they called on the Ghanaian government to take action and further justice for the slain journalist.
Reacting to the murder, publisher of SATELLITE TIMES newspaper and multiple award-winning investigative journalist, Emmanuel Mayah, in strong terms condemned the act, adding that it is one too many on African journalists.
Mayah used the medium to also encourage journalists not to fret or be discouraged by the attack on their colleague. Though he recognized the fact that the work of journalists in Africa is becoming increasingly difficult, he charged them to keep shinning light on the truth as they remain the defenders of the social contract, ridding the continent of corruption, bad governance and inequality.
In an earlier statement condemning the murder, Mayah said “We at SATELLITE TIMES newsroom join our colleagues in the global investigative journalism community in condemning the cowardly killing of this young journalist in Ghana. To Anas: we stand by you and share in your grief in this dark moment. To Ahmed’s family: the pain never goes away. To the government of Ghana we say: Journalists are not public enemy, rather they are protectors of the public interest; the defenders of the social contract between the citizens and the state.”
Journalists from SATELLITE TIMES newsroom took turns to sign a condolence register in memory and honour of Hussein-Suale.
Tony Icheku, a member of the NUJ in his condolence message said, “A threat to one is a threat to all. Ahmed Hussein-Suale’s death must not be in vain. RIP brother man!”
In his remark, the Executive Director of Safer Media Initiative, Peter Iorter said “it is unfortunate and worrisome that this has happened in Ghana, a country regarded as one of the most democratic countries in Africa and also ranking better than any other African country on the World Press Freedom index.”
Hussein-Suale was a member of the undercover team that exposed football corruption in Ghana and his last work, an investigation into ritual killings in Malawi published by the BBC.
Satellite Times condemn the assassination of investigative journalist
-calls on journalists in Nigeria to wear black
Nigeria’s frontline investigative newspaper, Satellite Times, has condemned in strong terms the assassination in Ghana of investigative journalist Ahmed Hussein-Suale.
Ahmed was killed in a hail of bullets from gunmen on motorbike who aimed at his chest and neck, eventually speeding off without taking any valuables from his car which they had trailed till the attack. The slain journalist was one of the reporters at Tiger Eye, an investigative reporting project founded by ace Ghanaian journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas.
Reacting to the murder, Satellite Times’ publisher and multiple award-winning investigative journalist, Emmanuel Mayah, said in a statement that the shooting dead of Ahmed Hussein-Suale is one gruesome attack too many on African journalists doing the difficult work of ridding the continent of corruption, bad governance and political capture.
In the press statement Mayah said:
“I am reeling in shock as I write this. What happened in Ghana is too close to home that it is producing a petrifying aftershock here in Nigeria. Over the years I have received with angst news of killings of journalists across the world but none was as jolting as the slaying of Ahmed Hussein-Suale; maybe because I knew him in person.
“We at Satellite Times newsroom, join our colleagues in the global investigative journalism community in condemning the cowardly killing of this young journalist in Ghana. To Anas: we stand by you and share in your grief in this dark moment. To Ahmed’s family: the pain never goes away. To the government of Ghana we say: Journalists are not public enemy, rather they are protectors of the public interest; the defenders of the social contract between the citizens and the state.
We ask the government of Ghana and indeed those of the other member states of the African Union to recall Article 13 of the United Nations Convention against corruption, which provides that each state party shall take measures to protect “the freedom to seek, receive, publish and disseminate information concerning corruption”. In the spirit of this statute, we call on the government of Ghana to fish out and bring to justice the killers of Ahmed; be they in government or friends of the government.
“Death is everyone’s destiny but death for the investigative journalist is a choice. Journalists fought for the independence of nations of Africa. They fought against colonialism, apartheid, military dictatorship and now even in a democracy, they are fighting against bad governance, human rights violations and official brigandage, the last obstacles to the total emancipation of the African continent.
“We ask the African community that we serve to see investigative journalists as freedom fighters in the mould of Steve Biko, Martin Luther King, Patrice Mulumba, Thomas Sankara, Che Guevera, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Ken Saro-Wiwa; and of course, Dele Giwa, Norbert Zongo and Anna Politkovskaya.
“Journalists in Satellite Times newsroom will begin today (Friday) to wear black for seven days as we mourn our departed colleague in Ghana.”
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