“I feel liberated” Supporting Economic Opportunities for Displaced Women in North-East Nigeria

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Maimuna Dahiru tending her vegetables

 

                                                By Joy Bitrus Ashalva, Project Officer, Social Action

Maimuna Dahiru is a 35-year-old woman originally from Baga, in Kukawa Local Government Area (LGA) of Borno State in North-Eastern Nigeria. A mother of eight children, including five girls and three boys, Maimuna and her family fled when Boko Haram insurgents attacked Baga town in December, 2018. Since 2013, particularly in 2015, Boko Haram fighters have raided Baga and surrounding villages, killing thousands of people and burning homes and public buildings. Given the fluid security situation, people sometimes return to their community after periods of calm only for the insurgents to strike again.

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FUEL, ELECTRICITY PRICE HIKE: SOCIAL ACTION’s CRC demands a reversal of FG’s decision to increase costs; condemns arrest of protesters

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Picture shows CRC members leading a protest to seek a reversal of the government’s policies

As Nigeria marked its 60th Independence Anniversary on October 1 this year, the Civil Rights Council (CRC) established by Social Development Integrated Centre, SOCIAL ACTION, commemorated the nation’s history with a protest march to draw attention to the surreptitious hike in fuel price and electricity tariffs across the country. It will be recalled that the Nigerian economy experienced a decline, following the COVID-19 lockdown, and many Nigerians faced biting hardship as a result. Amidst these occurrences, the Federal Government suddenly announced an increment in tariff of essential commodities such as Electricity and Premium Motor Spirit (PMS). The inflation in the cost of these commodities had negative impacts on other essential services and inevitably increased daily cost of living. This generated reactions from organized labour and Civil Society groups in Nigeria, leading to a national debate and call for mass action in the country. CRC galvanized its structures to participate in this national debate and to initiate a mass protest on the Nation’s Independence Day Anniversary.

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Ban on FSARS patrol: Time for real and urgent solution, not lip service

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THEMATIC REPORT
Written by Lillian I. Akhigbe

The recent ban on routine patrol duties of the Federal Special Anti – Robbery Squad (FSARS) by the Federal Government of Nigeria, is certainly not the first of its kind, as such proclamations have been made by the hierarchy of the Nigeria Police severally, with no effective compliance resulting therefrom. Within the past five years of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, there have been at least 5 marching orders made with respect to FSARS and in response to the allegations of human rights violations levelled against officers of the FSARS division of the Police Force by several persons across the country. Many FSARS officers have gained notoriety for their inappropriate dressing and illegal activities which they perpetrate under the guise of conducting stop and search operations along the highways. The unlawful activities meted out on innocent Nigerians by FSARS include, harassments, intimidation, physical assaults, extortion, illegal detention, torture and extra – judicial killing.

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The Impact of COVID-19 on Persons Living with a Disability and Orphaned Children

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Mr Kie Obomanu, the chairman of Persons Living with a Disability in Rivers State

By Mercy Tochi Christopher

 

It is no more headline news that COVID-19 has upended lives around the world, creating disruptions in almost every aspect of the society and exacerbating existing pressures. For people living with a disability and orphaned children, however, the outbreak has multiplied the pre-existing challenges they face as vulnerable members of the society, making them more vulnerable to contracting the virus and to the adverse impacts associated with the outbreak.

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DISBAND NDDC’S LEADERSHIP NOW – CSOs, Communities charge President Buhari

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Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) from within and outside the Niger Delta region, in conjunction with representatives of various communities in the region, have called for a total change of leadership in the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC. They made the call at a virtual roundtable with the theme: POSITION DIALOGUE ON THE NDDC, which was convened by Social Development Integrated Centre (SOCIAL ACTION) and the African Centre for Media, Information and Literacy (AFRICMIL) on Friday, 17th July, 2020. The meeting was held in the light of events at the NDDC, ranging from allegations of contract frauds and fiscal recklessness, to Procurement law infractions, audit violations, cronyism, non-budgetary and extra-budgetary spending, and extensive disregard to procedural rules.

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Petrol Pump Price Hike Amid Failing Economy: An Ill-Timed Policy

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THEMATIC REPORT

Written by Lucas Nwachukwu

On Wednesday, July 1, 2020, the Federal Government of Nigeria announced the sudden increase in the pump price of petrol by over ₦20. A litre of fuel will now sell between ₦140.8 and ₦143.8 at retail stations across the country, up from the previous ₦121.50 and ₦123.50 band. The increase was sequel to the recommendations given to the Federal Government by the Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) which is responsible for fixing the price of petroleum products in the country. According to the PPPRA Executive Secretary, Abdulkadir Saidu, “After a review of the prevailing market fundamentals in the month of June and considering marketers’ realistic operating costs, as much as practicable, we wish to advise a new PMS pump price band of ₦140.80 – ₦143.80 per litre, for the month of July 2020.” It could be recalled that the PPPRA had on May 31, 2020, announced a new pump price band that would be ₦121.50 to ₦123.50 per litre, a decision which was informed by the crash in the price of crude oil at the global market due to the ravaging impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is therefore ill-timed and preposterous, the recent increase to ₦140.80 – ₦143.80 of the pump price of petrol, at a time when oil prices are making a remarkable comeback after falling to a record low in April, as a barrel of crude oil now sells for between $39.81 and $42.27 at the international market.

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COVID-19: Akwa Ibom CSO Situation Room demands Transparency and Accountability, as the State faces community transmission

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Governor Udo Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State

AKWA IBOM REPORT

The Civil Society Organisation Forum in Akwa Ibom State under the auspices of the CSO Situation Room has called on the State Government to account for the COVID-19 intervention funds which it has so far, received. According to the CSO Network, the demand was made in the interest of promoting transparency and accountability in the management and utilisation of public resources, as well as building public trust. It noted that the Akwa Ibom State Government has an obligation to make public every source of funding, received with respect to the COVID-19 outbreak to help the State respond effectively to the scourge and curtail its impacts. But till date, the government has failed to disclose this very important information to the public. The State Government had earlier disclosed that the State had spent One Billion Naira in fighting COVID-19, but no further detail was given with regards to how the funds were sourced and expended.

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Violation of human rights by OSPAC vigilante group in Rivers State

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RIVERS STATE REPORT 

The ONELGA Security Peace and Advisory Council, popularly known as OSPAC, has been accused of illegally detaining and torturing innocent persons in Rivers State, on suspicion of being connected to cultism and kidnapping in the State. There have been several reports of human rights violations perpetrated by members of OSPAC, a vigilante group set up in 2016 at Omoku, capital of Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni LGA (ONELGA) in Rivers State. The civilian militia group which was brought into existence, following the increase in crime rate and the failure of the state security agencies to successfully tackle the insecurity, has since expanded to other parts of the State including Emohua and Ikwerre LGAs. The Social Development Integrated Centre, Social Action, in collaboration with the Civil Rights Council (CRC), have noted that the mode of operation of OSPAC included the arrest, detention and torture of persons suspected to be cultists or criminals. However, many persons have been wrongly arrested, detained and treated in an inhumane and degrading manner by the civilian militia. This deliberate violation of the presumption of innocence of an accused person, constitutes an abuse of human rights and a violation of Section 36(5) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) which states that an accused person shall be deemed innocent until proven guilty. Sadly, not much attention has been paid to the illegal activities of OSPAC by security agencies in the State.

CRC reports that in May 2020, some men of the OSPAC invaded Isiokpo in Ikwerre LGA and arrested innocent youths and Ogoja labourers who were returning from the farm. Those arrested were subjected to inhumane treatments, including physical torture and starvation. On June 7, 2020, it was reported that men of OSPAC stormed Isiokpo and arrested innocent citizens who were going about their lawful duties, while acting on a tip-off that some members of a criminal gang were taking refuge in the community. Innocent persons were allegedly arrested alongside some confirmed members of the criminal syndicate. It was further learnt that the leadership of OSPAC and several community groups have expressed their support for the crude methods deployed by OSPAC and deemed such human rights violations, a necessary evil, in order for kidnapping to be stopped and peace restored to the communities. It is widely believed that their extra-judicial methods, despite being against the fundamental principles of human rights, produce the desired results. Hence, the human rights violations could be condoned in the interest of maintaining security. It has been accepted by several communities where OSPAC operates, that human rights abuse and unwarranted arrest of innocent citizens cannot be ruled out in such operations.

Social Action decries the wrongful normalisation of human rights violations as a sad commentary, resulting from the systemic failure of the government to provide security and the decades of communal wars, violence and inhumane, degrading treatment meted out on people extra-judicially. Several community folks regard violence, jungle justice and extra-judicial killings as immediate punishment to be justifiably meted out on suspected criminals, without recourse to a proper trial by a court of law. They fail to avert their minds to the rule of law which stands to protect innocent citizens. This ugly trend, if not urgently checkmated, could lead to an extra-judicial killing of people, reminiscent of the horrific incident which occurred in Rivers State in 2012, involving four students of UNIPORT, popularly called ALUU 4, who were tortured and lynched in Aluu community over wrongful allegations made against them for which they weren’t allowed their rights to a fair trial.

Social Action and CRC therefore call on the Rivers State Government to immediately bring an end to the violation of human rights perpetrated by OSPAC. Rather than turn a blind eye to the impunity and lawlessness demonstrated by members of OSPAC in addressing insecurity in the State, the State Government may wish to legitimately adopt the group as a State-owned vigilante group via the instrumentality of a law which must be duly passed by the Rivers State House of Assembly. In addition, there ought to be an adequate and regular training of all members of OSPAC. OSPAC must be made to complement the efforts of the Police, and not replace the Police. Arrested persons suspected to be criminals, should be handed over to the Police for proper investigation and prosecution, if deemed necessary. OSPAC as a group, must not be allowed to continue as a law on to itself, as such impunity, in addition to the human rights abuse, could lead to extra-judicial killings and communal clashes, given the fragile peace and volatility of some communities in the State.

Borno Women Receive Support For Improved Livelihoods Through Agriculture

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GREENCODE and Social Action commence training on micro-agriculture for women affected by conflicts in Jere, Maiduguri Metropolitan Council (MMC) and Konduga LGAs of Borno State

 

BORNO STATE REPORT

Against the backdrop of severe drought occasioned by climate change, coupled with the destruction of homes and farmlands induced by the Boko Haram insurgency in parts of Borno State, the Green Concern for Development (GREENCODE) and Social Development Integrated Centre (Social Action) have launched an initiative for the development of sustainable livelihoods of displaced populations through agriculture. The intervention project which is aimed at devising ways of ensuring food security and protecting the livelihoods of those gravely-affected by the ecological impacts of global warming and related conflicts, is supported by the Development for Peace (Caritas Canada). GREENCODE and Social Action have commenced a Training programme on micro-agriculture, for women in conflict-affected communities within Jere, MMC and Konduga LGAs, as part of efforts at addressing the prevailing challenges to livelihood which have been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic in Borno. The Training which kicked off on the 26th of June, 2020, showcased practical lessons on micro-gardening, as well as processes involved in the making of sanitisers and liquid soap. A total of 40 women making up the first set of trainees, were in attendance at the Training. The capacity-building project is expected to be a continuous engagement which will include follow-up activities with beneficiaries and other stakeholders in the food security sector.

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World Bank’s $750 Million Credit and the need to drive productivity in Nigeria’s chaotic Power sector

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Electric Power Transmission Substation

THEMATIC REPORT

                                                                                                Written by Lucas Nwachukwu

Many Nigerians have reacted with skepticism to the approved $750 Million International Development Association (IDA) credit made by the World Bank for Nigeria’s Power sector Recovery Operation (PSRO), said to be aimed at improving electricity supply in the country. The recurring question is centred on how the $750 Million would be put to judicious use. According to the World Bank, about 47% of Nigerians do not have access to grid electricity and those who do have access, face regular power cuts. In addition, the economic cost of power shortages in Nigeria is estimated at about $28 Billion, equivalent to 2% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Despite the privatisation of Nigeria’s Power sector in 2013, during the Goodluck Jonathan administration, the country has failed to achieve a consistent and reliable supply of electricity. In the past and even presently, there have been enormous promises made to address Nigeria’s unreliable energy supply and power needs. Huge investments have been made in the sector which still lies in shambles. Nigeria, with its expanding economy, has one of the widest energy gaps in the world. Power production falls short of demand, which constitutes a primary constraint on the nation’s economic growth.

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