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How I made sure that 100 inmates from Kuje prisons were released – Sen. Orji Uzo Kalu

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Sen. Orji Uzo Kalu

Senate Minority Leader, Dr. Orji Uzo Kalu said yesterday that God used him to secure the release of over 100 inmates from Kuje prisons.

Narrating the event on his verified Facebook page, Kalu who paid a special visit to the facility on Friday in the spirit of Christmas said that many Nigerians were languishing in the prison for not fulfilling the requirements of the law. 

Why he noted that there were many who actually earned their place in the facility, the Senator also stated that many other inmates were happy and willing to live behind bars for life.

On an emotional note, Kalu recounted two separate incidents in his left that had brought tears to his eyes.

According to him, the first was when Igbos were deported from Lagos to Onitsha in Anambra State and the second being the day he was taken to prison.

It will be recalled that Kalu who was a two term governor of Abia State between 1999 and 2007 was upon his exit from office accused of embezzling about N7.1billion from the State coffers by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

In December 2019, Kalu was pronounced guilty by a court and sent to Kuje prisons in Abuja to serve a 12 year jail term.

However, in May, 2020, respite came his way as the Supreme Court quashed the conviction and ordered a retrial.

Similarly, by an application, a court also barred EFCC from including the Senator in the fresh trial.

But the anti-graft agency was miffed by the decison of the court and has reportedly appealed the matter for it to be set aside.

Kalu who shared pleasantries and ate with some officials of the prisons wrote:

“As part of my covenant with God to encourage and support the mental wellbeing of those in detention, I have been visiting and spending time with them and today is one of those days.  

“Since I became an adult and as long as I can remember, there have been two occasions I wept and couldn’t hold back. The first was the day Igbos were deported from Lagos to Onitsha. After my reaction to the unceremonious event, I questioned the humanity in this country and the embarrassment attached. I never foresaw that such could ever happen in my lifetime.

“The second was when I was at the Nigerian Correctional Service Medial Security Custodial Centre, Kuje, Abuja. Somehow, one young man (names withheld) approached me and sought an audience which I granted. He told me a pathetic story of how he found himself in prison. He is the only child of his parents and his father was also imprisoned. That night, I prayed and thanked God for encountering him. I didn’t need anyone to tell me it was a set up for his family. After my intervention by engaging the services of a lawyer, himself and his father were freed. May God bless him.  

“With God’s grace , I was able to secure the release of not less than 100 inmates who were in detention because they couldn’t afford a lawyer or bail. My stay in Kuje actually gave me an opportunity to see the deepest and lowest ebb of the downtrodden. While many in detention are guilty of one crime or the other, there are several others who are languishing in detention because they could not fulfill the requirements of the law to be freed. They just needed little intervention and I am grateful to God for using me. However, I also noticed there are a  few who do not want to leave the prison. For reasons best known to them, they feel much more comfortable spending their entire lives in prison. It’s a deep world.

“As I visited the Nigerian Correctional Service Medial Security Custodial Centre, Kuje today in compliments of the season, I ate, drank and shared jokes with a few. Among other interventions in the Nigerian Correctional Service Medial Security Custodial Centre, Kuje, I am very happy that the solar power project I sponsored has helped the prison with 24 hour power supply. 

“By 2022,  we will commence the building of a new cell to decongest the already congested prison.

“I  thank the Comptroller General of the  Nigeria Correctional Service for his commitment and great improvement in the correctional center 

“I also thank the head of the Nigerian Correctional Service Medial Security Custodial Center, Kuje, Abuja, and staff for their selflessness and generosity in discharging their duties. 

“Wishing everyone merry Christmas in advance! #OUK #KeepHopeAlive”.

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West African leaders must collaborate to overcome common challenges – Buhari

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Buhari

ABUJA—PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari yesterday advocated renewed collaboration among West African leaders to overcome the myriad of common challenges, including state of insecurity facing the sub-region.

This is just as the President of Ghana and Chairman of Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, Nana Akufo-Addo, said only two per cent of the entire population of the subregion had been fully vaccinated against the COVID-19 pandemic. President Buhari made the advocacy in his welcome address at the 60th Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, held at the Old Banquet Hall, Presidential Villa, Abuja.

He noted that the sub-region had, in recent times, managed to stay afloat amid a myriad of crises, which include the negative socioeconomic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, state of insecurity, which has claimed many lives and left millions displaced.

The Nigerian leader, however, charged leaders of the region to be ready to deliberately work together in the task of finding solutions to the challenges, as a region.

“Our subregion continues to face socioeconomic, political, security, and environmental realities linked to Coronavirus pandemic. Our democracy is being challenged in Mali and Guinea. Furthermore, threats are looming around environmental degradation and climate change on our farming systems. We are facing a network of criminals, including terrorism.

“All of these challenges require our collective action to work in concert with each other to pragmatically address and provide our people better prospects in life. Today’s realities remind us of the need to continue to forge stronger solidarity in order to address the new challenges, including the current third wave of the pandemic and its Omicron variant.

“I am glad that the Commission of the Economic Community of West African States and the West Africa Health Organization are continuing to work with our respective national disease control centers to mitigate the effects of the pandemic on our people and subregion,” President Buhari said.

He, however, thanked the Ghanaian President and Chairman of ECOWAS, President Nana Akufo-Addo, for providing the needed leadership to member states, as they mitigate the effects of the pandemic.

In his opening remarks, President Akufo-Addostre-ssed the need for the subregion to take local production of COVID-19 vaccines more seriously, pointing out that with all the efforts so far made in the fight against the virus, only 2% of the population of the subregion had been completely vaccinated.

He said:   “As of 8th December, our region has recorded 674,556 cases of infections with some 10,000 deaths. This scourge has impacted our humanitarian, social and economic sectors, and it continues to rage with the emergence of a new variant and the risk of a new wave in our region.

“The new variant Omicron has already been found in three member states, and has led to unfortunate imposition of travel bans by some countries, which are unjustified and unacceptable. Meanwhile, the availability of vaccines continues to remain a problem. Despite our efforts, we have only 6% of our population receiving one dose, with 2% of the population fully vaccinated.

“Whilst we remain grateful for the support from friends of the community, we must continue to pursue national and regional efforts to fight COVID-19 and move rapidly into the domestic production of vaccines for the protection of our citizens and for the growth and development of our economy”.

The ECOWAS Chairman, also called for continued mobilization of troops for peace keeping in areas where peace is fragile, noted that all is being done to restore democratic governance in Mali and Guinea, where there were undemocratic change of power

Akufo-Addo restated ECOWAS’ resolve to promote good governance in West Africa, through the sustenance of democratic institutions.

“We continue to be faced with security trials in the forms of deadly terrorist and kidnapping attacks, particularly in Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and Nigeria, causing numerous casualties amongst civilians and security forces, resulting in a significant number of displaced persons.

“Recent events in Burkina Faso are matters of the greatest concern. Increased coordination, however, on the part of coastal nations, have recently led to an improved maritime security situation in the Gulf of Guinea.

“Let me on behalf of the authority, condemn in the strongest terms, these attacks that continue to plague our region. Significant efforts are being made at both national and regional levels to fight terrorism and extremism.

“We must step up our efforts to deal with these tasks which will be imposed upon us and we must act in such a way that no one will doubt our resolve to protect our peoples and the peace and stability of our countries”, Akufo-Addo said.

He congratulated President Jose Neves of Cape Verde, who was attending the summit for the first time, as well as Adama Barrow of Gambia, who recently got re-elected.

In a goodwill message, the United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, represented by the Special Representative for West Africa and the Sahel, Annadif Saleh, pledged more support for ECOWAS, as he sued for more cooperation among member States. 

Guterres commended Cape Verde and the Gambia, for holding peaceful Presidential elections recently.

In another goodwill message, the African Union represented by its Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Nigeria’s Bankole Adeoye, hailed ECOWAS for sustaining democracy in West Africa.

The AU pledged to continue to work closely with ECOWAS to ensure the promotion of good governance within the region.

The two-day summit was attended by Heads of State and government of all the member States, as well as Former Nigerian leader and ECOWAS Special Envoy and Mediator to Mali, Goodluck Jonathan, and President of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean Kassi Brou, among others.

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FG urged to re-visit matters of NDDC board

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Niger Delta Development Commission

A prominent northern leader, Alhaji Musa Saidu has again called for the urgent inauguration of the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, saying the delay was generating tension in the region.

Alhaji Saidu who is the leader of Arewa in the South and former aide to Late Chief  Harold Dappa Biriye also lashed at some youths under the aegis of Niger Delta Progressives Movement, NDPM, who poured encomiums on the Minister of Niger Delta, Senator Godswill Akpabio for launching a Strategic  Implementation Work Plan for his Ministry, dismissing them as political traders.

Saidu said it was unfortunate that some youths would come out at this time to shower praises on the Minister at a time the region was condemning his delay in constituting aboard for the NDDC.

“I am not sure they are Niger Delta youths. At a time the region is bitter over delay in constituting aboard for the NDDC some youths could come out to shower praises. This is wrong.  What we expect now is for all Niger Deltans and youths inclusive to be focused on agitating for a board for the commission and fixing the East-West road. “, he said.

“When these are done, achieved then you can call anyone a Messiah. But for now, these youths that came up with the statement under the name Niger Delta Progressives Movement, NDPM,  should bury their heads in shame. “, he said.

He said he had called for the sack of the Minister over the delay in inaugurating aboard for the commission and the deplorable state of the East-West road, adding that he had not changed his mind.

Alhaji Saidu said the Niger Delta is very dear to him because he had been actively involved in driving matters of development in the region, adding that he moved a motion for the north to support the creation of the NDDC at a gathering of prominent northerners at the Arewa House when he was national youth President of Arewa Youth Forum.

Continuing, he said as an aide to the late Harold Dappa Biriye, a Frontline leader of the Niger Delta, he accompanied the late sage to almost all meetings on matters of development of the region.

“And at meetings in the north  Chief Biriye will ask me to speak first on matters of the region on many occasions before he would wrap up. So you know and see my passion for the region”, he said.

Alhaji  Saidu further called for the implementation of recommendations of the Niger Delta Environmental Survey and several other recommendations on Niger Delta, stressing that sweeping them under the carpet was not a good one for any serious government.

“It is high time federal government visited recommendations on redressing challenges in the Niger Delta. There are several of them. There are the recommendations of the Niger Delta Environmental Survey and many others. They should give them attention so the area can enjoy development “, he said.

On the Minister of Niger Delta, Senator  Akpabio, he said he was calling again for his sack because of his failure to keep his promise to inaugurate aboard for the NDDC before August this year.

“We heard the  Minister when he visited stakeholders in Warri, Delta state that he was going to ensure aboard was in place before the end of July. But this has not come to be since. then. I still call for his sack. The East-West road is in shambles. The dry season is the time.to work but you see the situation. “, he said.

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Teni, Jaywon, others thrill fans as Funmi Ayinke launches album “The Journey”

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Teni

It was a superlative afternoon of kid’s glove reception, music and fun as fans and lovers of music were treated to heartwarming performances from Nigerian singers, Teniola Apata, popularly known as Teni, Iledare Oluwajuwonlo better known as Jaywon and others at Funmi Ayinke’s debut album “The Journey” on Sunday in Ikeja, Lagos.

The event witnessed the presence of some notable personalities like the former Ogun State Governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, a member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Shina Peller, the publisher of Ovation International, Bashorun Dele Momodu, royal fathers and others who all took part in the launching of the 15-track album titled, The Journey.

The 16-track album features talented and multiple award-winning acts such as Tunde TDot of Styl Plus fame, popular comic act-cum-singer, Klint D Drunk, Magnito, and legendary singer, Chief Ebenezer Obey.

‘The Journey’ album according to the brains behind it features well-written and powerful compositions that are a strong source of motivation and inspiration to listeners, providing needed zest to those in a moment of darkness and hope for the downcast.

FunmiAyinke noted that all the 15 songs were carefully composed and written with the hope that they heal the mind, body, and soul of everyone that listens.

Speaking on the album, the multi-talented Funmi Ayinke, who also doubles as the founder of Funmi Ayinke Records and Funmi Ayinke Humanity Foundation (FHF), said the body of work was inspired by her desire to pass a strong message of hope and motivation to her listeners.

“I decided on the album after taking a deep reflection on how I can impact the larger society aside from what I do at the Funmi Ayinke Humanity Foundation (FHF). Then the inspiration to sing hit me. It was at the time that I decided to write the songs before hitting the studios to pour out my soul on the songs. The album is a mix of inspirational and soulful soft music that was well produced and mastered to delight my listeners,” she said.

On her choice of features on the album, Funmi Ayinke said, “I grew up listening to Chief Ebenezer Obey whose career has lasted multiple decades. It was a dream come through having him on a record that I intend to use to inspire a wider audience. I also featured established characters such as veteran gospel singers: Funmi Aragbaye, TDot, Magnito, and Klint D Drunk on the album.”

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