Communique issued at the end of the Nigeria Pro-Democracy Conference 2019 on the theme: Reviving Popular Action for Democracy and Freedom in Nigeria

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Communique issued at the end of the Nigeria Pro-Democracy Conference 2019 on the theme: Reviving Popular Action for Democracy and Freedom in Nigeria

PREAMBLE

The Social Development Integrated Centre (Social Action) in partnership with African Centre for Media & Information Literacy (AFRICMIL) and Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) organized the 2019 Nigeria Pro-Democracy Conference at Lagos Airport Hotel, Ikeja, on Tuesday December 17, 2019.

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Reviving Popular Action for Democracy and Freedom in Nigeria

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In 2019, Social Action and its solidarity partners mobilised civic constituencies against the increasing assault on freedom of expression and democracy in Nigeria. Throughout the year, the country experienced shrinking of the civil spaces reminiscent of the dark days of military dictatorship. There was an escalation of state impunity and brazen disrespect for the rule of law in the country as exemplified by the detention of journalists, pro-democracy and anti-corruption activists in defiance of court orders. Thus, Social Action and its collaborators: the African Centre for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL), Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), and other partners, Civic Media Lab (CML), Coalition For Revolution (CORE), Nigeria Intervention Movement (NIM), The Difference Newspaper and Sahara Reporters, supported by Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, organised the second edition of the Nigeria Pro-Democracy Conference, which was convened as a platform for pro-democracy activists, social justice advocates and organic scholars in Nigeria to examine the democratic practices in Nigeria since 1999 and discuss options for positive civic engagement in politics; for promoting popular power and enthroning a representative and accountable government in Nigeria.

 

The well-attended conference which took place at the Osun Hall, Lagos Airport Hotel, Ikeja on December 17, 2019, had the Theme: Reviving Popular Action for Democracy and Freedom in Nigeria. The gathering witnessed presentations by various human rights activists, all of whom agreed that the country’s democracy was endangered and that there was an urgent need to revive pro-democracy movement with a view to stopping the encroaching dictatorship tendencies under President Muhammadu Buhari.

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In his opening remarks, Arochukwu Ogbonna who represented the Executive Director of Social Action, Dr Isaac Osuoka, noted that the shrinking civic and political space has led to a general state of insecurity in Nigeria and worsening social and economic conditions for the majority of citizens. Delivering the welcome address, co-convener of the conference, author and activist, Dr Chido Onumah who spoke on behalf of the organising partners, noted that the conference was put together to get people to speak with one voice on the many challenges confronting progressive movement in Nigeria, in particular, and the existential threat that millions of compatriots face on daily basis. The conveners recalled that the inaugural pro-democracy conference of December 2018, at the National Press Centre, Abuja, in the lead up to the 2019 general election, provided space for democracy activists to examine the state of the pro-democracy movement since the 1990s. The inaugural conference brought together veterans of the pro-democracy movement and younger activists and served as a platform for inter-generational dialogue on the movement of democracy in Nigeria and the state of the nation.

The conveners stressed the imperative of civic intervention of the pan-Nigerian character reminiscent of the 1990s pro-democracy movement. They noted that more people are living in extreme poverty in Nigeria than anywhere else in the world while violent conflicts are escalating.

Other activists, including Richard Mammah, publisher of the Difference Newspaper; Angela Odah; Prof Anthony Kila; Habib Dolapo; Wale Okunniyi, among others, took turns to speak on the state of affairs of the country with all of them in agreement to the urgent need to stop the encroaching fascism under the present leadership. In her remarks, Mrs. Odah, representative of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, said the conference was necessary to enable the participants add voice to the call for a stop to the encircling militarism in a democratic dispensation. She pointed out that the government of the day was using siting of projects and lopsided appointments to divide the country along ethnic and religious lines while encroaching on the rights and liberties of the citizens.

Delivering his keynote address titled: The Anti-Politics of the Buhari Administration, Dr Odion Silvester Akhaine warned that the country was heading to the point of no return.
He noted that the current leadership of the country has inflamed divisive tendencies and called for concerted effort to build alliances to save the country from collapse. He said that the legislature is a rubber stamp one, known in British history as the ‘Long Parliament’, a proxy of the executive who act in brazen compromise of parliamentary autonomy. The judiciary is peopled by political appointees without merit but programmed and intimidated to do the will of the executive. The keynote address was followed by a panel discussion during which members of the panel further dissected the issues and took questions from the audience.

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In a communique drafted at the end of the conference by Mr Obinna Ezugwu and read by Mr Otedola Adeola, the conference observed as follows:

  1. Nigeria is fast sliding into a fascist dictatorship.
  2. We are confronted with a government which has no regard for the rule of law.
  3. Court orders are being disobeyed with impunity. Journalists and activists are arrested and detained indiscriminately.
  4. Sahara Reporters publisher, Omowole Sowore, Olawale Bakare, former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, among others, remain in detention despite court orders for their release. We also have journalists like Agba Jalingo and Jones Abiri who are facing terrorism charges for simply doing their jobs. These are all testimonies to the shrinking of media and civil space in the country.
  5. The government proposed social media bill and hate speech bill are aimed at curtailing the freedom of expression of Nigerians.
  6. Even though the country now houses the highest number of poor people in the world, there is a bill called finance bill passed by the National Assembly awaiting the president’s assent. The essence of the bill is to force everyone, including the mass of unemployed Nigerians to pay more taxes. According to the bill, if you have no Tax ID, you can’t have a bank account. The government has also increased VAT, introduced POS charges, all of which are aimed at further impoverishing Nigerians to make more money available for the elite to loot. The minimum wage has yet to be implemented.
  7. In addition to several billions of dollars that it has borrowed, the government is now seeking to borrow another $30 billion while the bulk of the 2019 budget is to be borrowed. This is an attempt to plunge Nigeria into a debt crisis and leave a heavy debt burden on the future generation.
  8. It has become obvious that the Buhari government has no solution to the country’s economic and social problems. The despotic approach it deploys is only a decoy to take people’s attention away from the real issues of its failure.
  9. Part of the challenge facing the pro-democracy movement is that unlike during the military regime when we had a vibrant civil society when it was us against the military, we are facing a different challenge today. Politicians have succeeded in dividing us along ethnic and religious lines.

RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. The current battle to reclaim Nigeria is complex. We need an alliance of forces that would lead to the formation of a radical pan-Nigerian organization, taking into consideration the nuances of the Nigerian situation.
  2. We must answer the question of the structure of the Nigerian state.
  3. We must all, as lovers of freedom and people who have the interest of the nation at heart, start organising to ensure that our democratic rights are protected.
  4. We must all begin to act, to organise in our different localities to stop the encroaching fascism. We must not rest until journalists, activists and other individuals jailed are released.
  5. No matter the differences we have, we must decide on a few things: accountability of those in power, regardless of who is in power. We must ensure that the right of minorities is protected and that our freedoms are guaranteed.
  6. We must revive and restructure pro-democracy organisations and use them to make our voices heard and sustain the tempo of our activism.
  7. The pro-democracy movement should stand in solidarity with student unions across the country in order to strengthen their activism. We should also stand strongly against the victimization of student union activists in our various universities.

Participants agreed that the pro-democracy conference should be held at least once every year as a rallying point for activists and citizen across the country to continue to uphold the tenets of democracy.

 

INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS DAY SYMPOSIUM IN BAYELSA STATE

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The United Nations General Assembly adopted the 10th of December every year for the annual celebration of International Human Rights Day. The date was chosen by the United Nations to honour the adoption and proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)

In Bayelsa State, a Symposium was organized by BANGOF in partnership with the National Human Rights Commission on the 10th Dec, 2019 to x-ray relationship between the respect for human rights, the fight against corruption and sustainable Development. The meeting provided a platform for key stakeholders including the chief Judge of Bayelsa state to discuss the fight against corruption and human rights abuses in the society. While giving his good will messages the Chief Judge of Bayelsa State drew a connecting streak between corruption and human rights abuse. He said corruption affects human rights directly and indirectly. According to him, corruption in the criminal justice system could deny a citizen fair hearing, thereby violating his fundamental right to a fair trial.  The request for money at the police station before one is released on bail is not only an act of corruption but also a violation of the rights of the victims to free bail.

Other contributors who presented their good will messages at the symposium also pointed to different instances were corruption has led to the infringement and denial of the rights of innocent citizens and even caused the death of many. It was unanimously agreed during the interactive session that every act of corruption leads either directly or indirectly to the denial of the rights of some people. One key lesson learned was that the Bayelsa public is tired of the corruptions and are willing to support the government and other stakeholders to eradicate it.

In a keynote delivered by the Attorney General of Bayelsa state on the theme “The role of young people in bringing human rights to life’’ he called on young people to demand for their rights and defend the rights of others especially the vulnerable in society. He also called on young people to resist the get rich quick mentality to avoid being caught in the traps of corruption.

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Representatives of the different government agencies at the symposium, in their good will messages, commended BANGOF and the National Human Rights Commission for the courage to organize activities to sensitize the public and the Government of Bayelsa state on the illness of corruption and human rights abuses in the society. They expressed their readiness and willingness to collaborate with all stakeholders to promote respect for Human Rights and public accountability in their spheres of responsibility.

 

 

Present at the meeting were the Chief judge of Bayelsa state represented by a Justice of the federal High court in Yenagoa, the Attorney General of the State, the Commissioner of Police, Bayelsa state command and the Comptroller of Prisons, Bayelsa State. Other were the Commandant of Civil Defence Corps, Bayelsa Command, Federation of International Women Lawyer, FIDA, Bayelsa state chapter.

CIVIL RIGHT COUNCIL PAYS ADVOCACY VISIT TO THE OC LEGAL, STATE CID, PORT HARCOURT

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The frosty relationship that exits between the law enforcement agencies and the citizens has been one of the bane of the fight against crime. The citizens have continually accused the law enforcement agencies, especially the police of human right abuses while the police have decried the lack of cooperation from the citizens in fighting crime. The Civil Right Council has been involved in educating the people on their rights and responsibilities as citizens, on one hand, and also sensitizing the law enforcement agencies on the need to carry out their legitimate functions within the ambits of the law with respect to the rights of the people they are paid to protect on the other.

It is on this bases that the Civil Rights Council paid a courtesy visit to SP Gladys Enoho Imegu, the Officer in Charge of the Legal Department, State Criminal Investigation Department, Rivers State Police Command to work out a partnership between Civil Rights Council and the State Criminal Investigation Department.

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Executive Members of the CRC with the Officer in Charge of the Legal Department, State CID, Rivers State Police Command, SP Gladys Enoho Imegu

The meeting which took place on the 20th of December 2019, was partly to commend SP Gladys Imegu on the task she has been carrying out and also to sort the collaboration of her office in the speedy dispensation of justice especially in cases involving the violation of human rights.

While commenting on the evident impact SP Gladys have made in her three months in office, Mr. Prince Wiro highlighted the areas Civil Rights Council have had concerns in their interventions assignment and urged the OC Legal to aid the mandate of the organisation by ensuring that the Police follow due process and respect the rights of citizens.  Mr. Sebastian Kpalap and Miss. Mercy Christopher also emphasised the crucial role of a partnership between CRC and the Police in promoting human rights.

SP Gladys Enoho Imegu thanked the CRC delegation for the commendation and willingness to partner with her office. She noted that policing is a regimented job that requires officers to first of all be law abiding in order to appropriately execute their duties. She assured CRC of the cooperation of her office in curbing human rights abuses noting that her doors will always be wide open to entertain any matter that the CRC requires her attention on.

Civil Rights Council was represented by Mercy Christopher, Legal Advisor, Prince Wiro, Chairman, CRC , Sebastian Kpalap, President, CRC and Kelechi Uzoma, Secretary, CRC, Port Harcourt.

DISTRIBUTION OF ECO-FRIENDLY ENERGY MATERIALS TO DISPLACED PERSON IN MAIDUGURI, BORNO STATE

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The decade of violence conflict in the northeast region of Nigeria occasioned by climate change impact as well as the Boko Haram insurgency, has resulted in loss of lives, properties, means of livelihoods as well as general displacement among the citizens of the Sahel region. Ecological factors as a fundamental cause of displacement has resulted to severe pressure being placed on available resources such as trees in the bushes/forest, water bodies, lands etc thereby making lives unbearable for displaced persons across the region.

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Distributing fuel efficiency stoves and solar lamps to displaced persons in Maiduguri, Borno State

 

Access to energy is one of the major issues confronting millions of the displaced persons in IDPs camps across the northeast Nigeria. Based on an earlier commissioned Needs Assessment study carried out by Social Action and partners, household energy needs of displaced persons in camps both formal, informal and diffused are those associated with cooking, heating and lighting. Due limited resources such as wood and other alternative sources of energy, displaced persons faced the challenge of survival, threat to their existence and exposure to other security threats. In an effort to address these immediate challenges of the displaced persons, social action in September 2019 commenced the implementation of a multi-sectoral project in Borno which aimed at improving access to energy to the most vulnerable households with specific focus on distribution of efficiency cooking stoves and provision of solar lamps. The overall goal of the project was to contribute to human survival and the reduction of suffering via the provision of strategic, specific focused interventions programmes on livelihood and early recovery and energy access among internally displaced persons in informal camps and diffused communities in Borno state.

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To achieve the goal of this exercises, Social Action and partner in December 2019 embarked on preliminary activities of identifying, selecting and mobilizing beneficiaries of the intervention across three local government areas of Borno state which included Konduga, Jere and Maiduguri Metropolitan City (MMC). Over a period of one week, the project team took a tour of the nine communities across the three local government areas to mobilize stakeholders necessary for the implementation of the project. This included several meetings with community heads, IDPs representatives, women and youth groups as well as some security agents in those locations thereby creating opportunity to provide detailed information on the project goals and target as well as solicit for community support and buy-in. The tour to IDP communities and camps was also to identify possible volunteers who will be trained as human rights ambassadors to monitor and report on issues of human rights abuses in IDP camps.

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Based on the outcome of the preliminary activities, on 12th of December, Social Action and Greencode embarked on the registration of beneficiaries and distribution of efficiency cooking stoves and the solar lamps in line with a joint agreement with the community structures on the beneficiaries’ selection criteria A total of 80 households were registered and documented. Beneficiaries included Persons living with disability, or household with persons living with disability, Pregnant and lactating mothers, Household with large number of children under 5 years, Child or Female headed households and households that sleep without any form of lighting at night.  Between 16th and 20th of December, a total of 70 households from six communities across the 3 LGAs received/benefited from the distribution of the Fuelwood Efficient Cook Stoves (FES) and 60 solar lamps. Distribution is other areas are still ongoing.

THE INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS DAY 2019 ACTIVITIES IN PORT HARCOURT

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Members of CRC Port Harcourt  at the workshop to mark the International Human Rights Day

The Civil Rights Council Workshop Held to Mark the International Human Rights Day

Civil Rights Council, Rivers state, on the 10th of December, 2019, conducted a workshop to mark the International Human Rights Day. The workshop which lasted for four hours was held at the Chima Ubani Centre, Port Harcourt, with members from the different CRC units in Rivers States and the media in attendance. The workshop was organised to strengthen the resilience of members of CRC in the struggle for the realisation of basic human rights and also to reinforce the capacity of members in speaking out against human wrongs and in standing up to defend their rights and that of others.

In his opening speech on the theme “Youth Standing Up For Human Rights”, the national coordinator of the Civil Rights Council Barr. Arochukwu Paul Ogbonna explained the significance of the International Human Rights Day. He noted that with the rise in the cases of human rights violation by state and non-state actors, it has become imperative for young people to act as agents of change in advancing human rights, justice and rule of law in Nigeria.  He further urged the youth to shift their attention from crime and “rather, engage constructively with state actors and government officials to ensure that they act within the bounds of the law and that the rights of the citizens are respected”.

Highlighting the achievements of the Civil Rights Council, the chairman of the Civil Rights Council, Rivers chapter, Mr. Prince Wiro gave an extensive run down of the intervention of CRC in different cases ranging from rape cases, violation of rights by private persons and corporations and the arbitrary use of power by security operatives including cases of illegal arrest, torture and detention. He also added that the workshop was part of CRC’s strategy in instituting a more aggressive fight in curbing human rights abuses in all its forms.

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The Coordinator of the Civil Rights Council Barr. Arochukwu Paul Ogbonna explaining the significance of the International Human Rights Day

Barr. Charles Edward Obiora, the guest speaker delivered an exhaustive lecture titled “An Appraisal of the Legal Regime for the Enforcement of Fundamental Human Rights in Nigeria”. He lectured briefly on various international and national human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and then went on to give an extensive analysis of the provisions and socioeconomic implications of the African Charter on the Human and People’s Rights (Enforcement and Ratification) Act and Chapter 2 and 4 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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Barr. Charles Edward Obiora, the guest speaker delivering a lecture on “An Appraisal of the Legal Regime for the Enforcement of Fundamental Human Rights in Nigeria”

While still focusing on the human rights regime in Nigeria, Barr Christopher Mercy presented a paper on the right to development titled “Nigeria’s Human Rights Regime and the African Charter on Human and People’s Right”. The paper which focused on the social, economic, cultural rights guaranteed by the African Charter also stipulated the legal means for enforcing those rights through the Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules, 2009. From her presentation, she clarified the position of the law on the right to development and the non-justiciability of the socioeconomic rights in Chapter 2 of the 1999 Constitution.

The lectures were followed by an engaging question and answer session that got members asking thought provoking legal questions.

Mr. Sebastian Kpalap, the president of the Civil Rights Council closed the workshop with words of encouragement for the members of Civil Rights Council to stay true to the cause even in the face of harassment and intimidation by persons who stand against the progress of the common people.

 

INTERNATIONAL ANTICORRUPTION DAY SYMPOSIUM IN BENIN

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Anti-corruption Day Symposium

In Benin, the capital of Edo State, citizens and the civil society community joined the international community to mark the international anticorruption day 2019. On the 9th of December, 2019, Action for Socio-political and Economic Change (ASEC) held a one day symposium on the theme ‘Creating the nexus between citizens and government on public accountability’. Participants were drawn from different civil society organizations and citizens in Edo State to keep them abreast of their roles in ensuring public finance probity and participation in government policy formulations and implementations.

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Leftist Omobude Agho, the Coordinator General of Edo Civil Society Organisations making a presentation at the symposium

The Coordinator of Action for Socio-political and Economic Change, Comrade Osazee Edigin in his opening remark, quickly brought participants to speed on the Social Contract principle based on the premise of an existing agreement between citizens and government in achieving a well organised society where roles and obligations are documented in the country’s constitution and various legal instruments. He further went on to lament the deliberate refusal of government in opening its books for citizens to see how their commonwealth is being deployed. In his simple analogy, he stated that, government is swift in taking tax evaders to mobile courts where judgment is summarily dispensed but adamant in releasing information to citizens on how same taxes collected are utilized.

He faulted Edo state government for not releasing information sought by civil society groups in the state which had led many of such requests ending in civil litigations in court. Participants were tasked in taking the use of the Freedom of Information Act to the local government council’s level which is closest to the people.

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Coordinator of Action for Socio-political and Economic Change, Comrade Osazee Edigin making his opening remark at the symposium

In his remark, Leftist Omobude Agho, the Coordinator General of Edo Civil Society Organisations (EDOCSO), decried the poor level of citizens participation in governance which is a major setback in engendering responsive governance. He posited that, the reason government at all levels can undermine the power of citizens is because citizens show little or no interests in how their resources are being utilized on projects and general management of the state.

The main symposium was anchored by the guest facilitator, President Aigbokhan Esq, an expert and analyst in Freedom of Information Act, public accountability and transparency who delivered a paper on ASSETS DECLARATION SOVEREIGNTY: A MODEL FOR A CORRUPT FREE GOVERNANCE IN NIGERIA. He highlighted that sovereignty belongs to the people wherein government draws its legitimacy from. The link between regime of asset publication under the Freedom of Information Act, 2011 was also established. The role of civil society groups and citizens in engaging public office holders was not left out. He took participants through a journey of the need for citizens to use the Asset Declaration form in monitoring and curtailing the quest of amassing wealth by public officers. Participants were informed of their rights to information as contained in the public officer asset declaration form which enable citizens to know the worth of any public office holder prior to assumption of office and his worth during and after leaving office. He emphatically informed participants that, the asset declaration process is applicable to all public office holders including the President, Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Chief Judge of Nigeria, Governors and every other person that is holding public office in trust for the people. Questions were asked by participants and responses were offered by the facilitator.

The Anti-corruption Day Symposium was organised by Action for Socio-political and Economic Change (ASEC) and supported by Social Action

2019 INTERNATIONAL ANTI-CORRUPTION DAY CELEBRATION IN YENAGOA, BAYELSA STATE

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Anti-Corruption Day Road Procession on the Streets of Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.

Anti-Corruption Day Rally

The Bayelsa NGOs Forum, BANGOF with support from Social Action carried out activities to mark the International Anti-corruption Day in Yenagoa, capital of Bayelsa state with the Theme; ‘’Corruption; Impediment to the Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The rally which was organised in partnership with the National Human Rights Commission in Yenagoa, Bayelsa state was targeted at raising public awareness for anti-corruption in the state.

While addressing the crowd at the Peace Park, BANGOF charged the anti-corruption agencies to collaborate with one another and create a synergy to ensure the campaign is given enough teeth in other to crush corruption in the state. The statement by the organisation further outlined the negative effects of corruption in the social and infrastructural development of the Niger Delta States and charge the citizens not to consider the immediate gratification that corruption offers but rather consider the overarching interest of the people.  Bayelsans were also encourages to report any case of corruption to the appropriate agencies for prosecution.

Participants displayed different anti-corruption messages, banners and inscriptions as they walked through the street of the capital city. 28 persons representing 21 civil society and media organizations participated in the rally which took off from the Yenagoa main motor park known as Ekeki motor park through the busy streets of Yenagoa and terminated at the Peace Park, opposite Government House at Ovom.

 

Radio Call in Programme

In continuation of the programmes outline by the Bayelsa Anti-corruption Network to mark the International Anti-corruption day, the Network featured in a 30 minutes Live Audience Participation Radio discussion at the Rhythm 94.7 FM in Yenagoa Bayelsa state. The discussion on the theme “Corruption; Impediment to Achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)” provided the platform for the Network to reach out to the listening audience of the radio station in Bayelsa and the neighbouring states. The programme elucidated call in from several audience who concurred with the studio guests and encouraged the Network not to rest on its oars to ensure that the state is rid of corruption. Other callers who wanted to know how to join the network in the campaign against corruption were directed by the Network members to BANGOF’s secretariat in Yenagoa.

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Members of the Anticorruption Network in Bayelsa State on  a live radio programme to mark the Anticorruption Day 2019

THE INTERNATIONAL ANTI-CORRUPTION DAY 2019 ACTIVITIES IN UYO, AKWA IBOM STATE

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Anti-Corruption Day Rally

In Uyo the Anticorruption Network (ACONET) members joined the Uyo Zonal Office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission – EFCC on Monday, December 9, 2019 on a citywide walk to sensitize the public against the adverse impact of corruption on the country’s economy and especially the citizens. The 2019 Anticorruption Day street campaign therefore, sought to sound a clarion call on Nigerians to ‘Wipe out corruption totally!’

This according to the EFCC Uyo Zonal Head, Mr Garuba Dugum, is important because ‘any society or a nation that does not check corruption in the system is bound to fail in all ramification.’

In a related development, ACONET was also represented at the Independent Corrupt Practices and Related Offences Commission – ICPC events to mark the World Anti-Corruption Day, with the theme; “United Against Corruption”.

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Anti-corruption Day Rally in Uyo, the capital of Akwa Ibom State

The ICPC events kicked off with a citywide public awareness and sensitisation walk from the ICPC office in Ewet Housing Estate, to 4 Lanes, connecting Oron Road, then to Uruan Street and back to the Integrity Lecture venue at Ewet Housing Estate, Uyo.

 

The State Commissioner, Mr. Sola Shodipo represented by the Director of the Legal Department, Barr. T. U. Kalu; stated that, the fight against corruption should not be limited to the ICPC alone, because the consequences transcend the commission and charged everyone to be on the alert.

 

Akwa Ibom Anti-Corruption Network (ACONET) Media Chat

Akwa Ibom Anti-Corruption Network (ACONET) organised a Media Chat as part of its activities to mark the international Anticorruption Day. The Media chat began with a brief introduction of invited stakeholders by the ACONET State Coordinator, Ann Udonte. She expressed her gratitude to all the stakeholders and representatives of the press present for honouring the invitation to the roundtable discourse. The media chart was focused on amplifying anticorruption efforts through collective actions. She emphasised that the Network will keep reaching out to the related MDAs in the state in partnership, knowing that the interest of the citizens ACONET work to serve must always come first. The State Coordinator expressed her delight in the partnership and collaborations she envisaged in the future of anti-corruption activities in the state and shared some success stories of ACONET in the fight against corruption in the state. The CLO Chairman, Comrade Franklyn Isong, in his goodwill message commended the Government for the Treasury Single Account and recommended special courts to try corrupt politicians because, according to him, the delay in convicting corrupt individuals kills the process. He also expressed dissatisfaction with the manners in which the projects of the state were carried out and went further to query the Ministry of Works on the poor state of roads in the state. Comrade Isong demanded that the state open up its portal to enable an effective and efficient tracking of budget; which he believed would afford the public the opportunity to make proper inputs on the plights and aspirations of people. He concluded with a charge to the media to wake up to their responsibilities.

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Akwa Ibom Anti-Corruption Network (ACONET) Media Chat

Representative of the Joint Association of Persons Living with Disabilities (JONAPWD) – Mr. Ubong Udo Mr. Ubong Udo representing the Chairperson, JONAPWD Akwa Ibom State Chapter, stated that there is a strong link between corruption and the conditions of people living with disabilities. According to him, corruption is the major cause of high cases of disabilities in the country. So many preventable diseases are allowed to escalate because of poor management of the health institutions. Sharing the story of his disability, Mr. Udo said he became blind because the nurses and doctors on duty gave wrong diagnosis about a preventable glaucoma infection and he attributed this to the carelessness, irresponsibility and negligence on the part of Government. He also stated that some group of persons are using persons with disabilities wrongly, they make budgets for them without first evaluating their needs; they propose scholarships that do not get to any of them. He also queried the need of having special primary schools and not having Special Secondary Schools and Universities to cater for those with peculiar needs graduating from these schools.

The media chat also had in attendance the State Director, National Orientation Agency Mr. Enoh Uyoh, Democracy Africa Youth Parliament – DAYP representative by Comrade Akan James and representative of the Foundation for Civic Education, Human Rights, and Development Advancement (FoCEHRaDA) – Clifford Thomas, Esq. Others include representatives of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) – Comrade Effiong Nya, the Traditional Institution – His Royal Highness Etinyin Edet Nyong Eken the ICPC Barrister Ugbo Kalu and the Media.

In an interactive session, questions from media persons present were adequately addressed. Barrister Clifford Thomas, while giving the vote of thanks on behalf of the stakeholders, charged the Government of the day to be responsible and monitor activities of contractors. He concluded by appreciating the Network on behalf of the participants for conveying the dialogue and reiterated the commitment of all stakeholders, present, to the fight against corruption.