Sunday, February 28, 2010
Nineteen months after journalist, Abayomi Ogundeji, was allegedly murdered by police officers in Lagos, his wife, Jennifer, is still battling the trauma of explaining his absence to their two boys, aged four and two.
“The younger one is unaware of what happened, but the older is struggling to understand why his daddy is no longer around,” said Mrs. Ogundeji.
Late Mr. Ogundeji was a member of the editorial board of This Day Newspaper. The police allege that he was murdered by armed robbers near a police check point at the Dopemu area of Lagos, but it is widely speculated that he may have been shot by the police following an altercation with them. The last text message sent from his mobile phone to a friend reportedly said that he was in a situation with the police and would call him as soon as he was through with them.
Where is daddy?
Four-year-old Kuwam Balogun lost his mother three years ago, and then lost his father, Ramoni, to a trigger-happy police officer early this month. Till date he is bewildered that his father no longer picks him up after school.
The late Mr. Balogun was a commercial motorcyclist. He was on his way out of Ikorodu when he was shot, allegedly by stray bullets of police officers, who were on the trail of an armed robber escaping in a car.
More children are finding themselves in similar situations as incidents of extra judicial killings by the police have largely remained unabated. In the first two months of this year, there have been four reported cases of extra judicial killings by the police in Lagos state. Most of the victims left behind young children.
Getting some help
Seven-year-olds Qudus Olojede and Samuel Urja-Uti have one thing in common; their fathers, Ibrahim Olojede and Friday Uti were both shot to death, along with a third man, Rotimi Philips, as they sat in a car by a police officer near their Yaba homes on October 2009.
Before their murder, both men worked as mechanics in a local workshop. Mr. Olojede’s widow, Seun, works as a hair stylist in Mushin while Mr. Uti’s widow, Temitope, is a victim of the state government’s crusade of eradicating street trading. She is currently unemployed because she cannot afford to rent a shop.
The boys’ education was therefore threatened by the deaths of their fathers, until Change-A-Life Foundation, a nongovernmental organization founded by popular TV personality, Funmi Iyanda, stepped in by including the duo in its recent scholarship awards to over 60 children who are either orphaned or have single parents.
“After Ms. Iyanda read about their story in NEXT, she was so touched that we decided to help out with their education,” said Bridget Oyefeso-Odusami, the executive director of the foundation. “The two widows have not been finding it easy since the death of their husbands; Seun (Mrs. Olojede) lives with her mum and sister in a room and parlour while Temitope (Mrs. Uti) lives in a room, both are face me-I face you type of accommodation.”
The widows are grateful for the assistance, but are yet to get over the shock of the murders, while still battling with the trauma of explaining the absence of their fathers to the kids. When contacted by NEXT, both refused to relive the experience by agreeing to an interview.
“I think the earliest days were worse for them, they are trying to move on with their lives but of course have those sombre moments where the past is played back in their memories,” said Mrs. Oyefeso-Odusami.
Stopping the killings
In December last year, Amnesty International published a report calling for a more proactive effort in curbing the police extra judicial killings in Nigeria.
“Hundreds of people are unlawfully killed by the police in Nigeria every year,” stated the report published in the organisation’s website, www.amnesty.org. “Some people die because they fail to pay police officers a bribe. Others are killed because the police use excessive force during arrest or are killed by police officers in extrajudicial executions.”
Aster van Kregten, a member of the Nigerian research team of Amnesty International, confirms that the organisation is stepping up campaigns to pressure the government into adopting a more proactive stance against police extra judicial killings and laments the lack of redress for family of victims.
“There is no redress for family members; in most cases, relatives don’t even find out what happened,” she said in an email response to NEXT. “As most victims of extrajudicial executions are young men, and they are often the breadwinners in the families. When they are killed, their families lose their primary source of income.
If a court orders compensation, the police often refuse to pay. In rare cases where the police is paying compensation, it is the individual police officer who pays instead of the government. In the case of the death of Innocent Onovo for example (Lagos, May 2006), the court ordered the NPF to pay his widow compensation. Money she could use to pay for the school fees for the children. But nothing has been paid yet.”
Most of them, like Mrs. Ogundeji, pick up the slack and doggedly move on with their lives.
“For now, with the grace of God and his (Mr. Ogundeji) work place, the children’s education has been going on fine,” she said. “It has not been easy supporting the children emotionally and also balancing my nine-five job, but my family and my husband’s family have been supportive.”
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Shortly after he was appointed to the Bench, Oyewole was assigned to the criminal division of the Lagos State High Court where he had handled prominent cases.
He is one of the judges who handled EFCC’s cases.
Among the numerous cases Justice Oyewole has adjudicated is the EFCC versus Emmanuel Nwude and others including Mrs. Anajemba on the famous fraud on the Brazilian bank, defrauded to the tune of $264 million. He found them guilty of the offences.
Apart from sending them to jail, he ordered the forfeiture of their properties acquired illegally from the proceeds of the advance fee fraud.
Justice Oyewole also convicted the Pastor of the Christ Praying Assembly (CPA), Reverend Emeka Ezeugo, a.k.a. Rev King, for murder, sentenced him to death by hanging.
He also adjudicated on the case of attempted murder of Mr. Alex Ibru filed against Major Hamza Al-Mustapha and others. Though, he was unable to conclude the case, since one of the accused persons, retired Lieutenant-General Ishaya Bamaiyi, a former Chief of Army Staff (COAS), opted for a separate trial before him.
Bamaiyi was eventually freed on technical grounds and for the failure of the state to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.
Oyewole also jailed an Ojota, Lagos-based Islamic cleric, Alfa Rasheed Yusuf and three of his accomplices —Morufu Olaleye, Musa Yusuf and Rafiu Ojesanmi.
The Judge who jailed George
By Abdulwahab Abdulah
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
When he was sworn-in as a member of the Lagos State judiciary on May 24, 2001, he was not known as a fearless legal practitioner.
However, Justice Joseph Olubunmi Oyewole, who handed down a jail term Monday to top politician, Chief Olabode George and five others including the former Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Mr. Aminu Dabo, to many Nigerians has distinguished himself as a fearless and courageous judge.
For those who know him or had worked with him either as a student or as a lawyer, “he is an upright person, straight-forward, strong-willed and incorruptible man.”
Though, Chief Tunji Ayanlaja (SAN), who led other silks including a former Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr Dele Adesina (SAN), who represented George and his co-defendants to prove their innocence in the NPA scam case, did their best before Oyewole, he found them guilty of some of the offences, while exonerating them in others.
Justice Oyewole attended the former University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, Osun State, in the early 80s. He is an indigene of Osun State.
One of those who knew him as a student of the then University of Ife is Mr. Lanre Arogundade, a frontline journalist and colleague in student activism at Ife.
They were sentenced to 120 years imprisonment each on 12-count charge bordering on conspiracy and obtaining money under false pretence.
He sentenced them to 10 years imprisonment on each count and ordered them to pay $138,495, 200 pounds and N2.714 million as restitution to the victim, one Mrs. Aderanti Kayode.
He is also presiding on cases bordering on advance fee fraud involving a Lagos lawyer, Mr. Fred Ajudua.
At present, the owner of the popular Waterparks Hotel, Opebi, Lagos, is before him answering charges of fraud and stealing of government documents, among others.
Oyewole was one of the nominees who were to be elevated to the Court of Appeal by the National Judicial Council until the exercise was put on hold by it.
Chief Akanni Okoya donated two brand new fully equipped Nissan Urvan Ambulance, 11 brand new incubators (English made) and 9 brand new 4X4 Ford Ranger Pick- Up vehicle fully equipped for Police use donated by Chief Rasak Akanni Okoya as part of his 70th birthday celebrations.
Other items donated by Chief Akanni Okoya include scholarship award to 40 students in selected institutions of higher learning in Lagos State, namely Lagos State University, University of Lagos, Yaba College of Technology and Lagos State Polytechnic with each student receiving N100, 000.00 annually, renovation and building of classrooms at Ikota Primary School in Eti-Osa Local Government Area as requested by the school and provisions to Orphanages, old People’s homes and handicap institutions within Lagos State to the tune of Four Million, Five Hundred Thousand Naira Only (N4.5M) .
Governor Fashola said the gesture by Chief Okoya has once again reinforced his assertion that one can engage in public service without holding public office saying Chief Okoya has set an example as one who finds the grace to give so generously.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Fashola Hands Over Additional 10 Armoured Personnel Carriers To State Police Command
Feb 23, 2010 - Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN) on Tuesday further tightened the noose around criminals in the State as he handed over ten Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) donated by all the 57 Local Government Councils and Development Areas to the State Police Command.
According to Governor Fashola who spoke at the open grounds of the Lagos House, Ikeja venue of the handing over, eight would be deployed as strategic support to each of the eight Area Commands across the State while two would be maintained as complimentary back up fleet.
He thanked the Chairmen for the most important gesture and investment that will help decentralize the reach and response efficiency of the Rapid Response Squad (RRS) across the State.
He explained that government recognizes that the state’s investment in crime prevention must never diminish in order to retain the capacity to deter law breakers and protect law abiding citizens.
He added that the partnership with the private sector through the Lagos State Security Trust Fund has been most impactful and has brought on a new partnership with Local Government and Local Council Development Areas who have invested yet again in the purchase of the Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) to complement its efforts.
He expressed the belief that the investment tallies with the philosophy that peace, security and prosperity in each Local Government means peace, security and prosperity across the State.
While formally welcoming the new Assistant Inspector of General of Police in charge of Zone 2 Azubuko Udah, he said he was inheriting a highly motivated force that is rewarded for effort and led by an inspirational Commissioner of Police.
He urged the Policemen to treat its citizens and tax payers who pay for the equipment with the utmost courtesy, adding that the uniforms, patrol vehicles and guns must be symbols of relief and safety for all law abiding citizens and symbol of fear for law breakers.
Governor Fashola also quoted some print media reports with the audience about the successes of the Lagos State Police Command in terms of its renewed image, efficiency and increasing public acceptance.
He added: “Our job is not finished, but you must demonstrate that if you have the right equipment, you can compete against the best from anywhere”.
Speaking earlier, the Chairman of the Security Trust Fund, Chief Remi Makanjuola said the deployment of the APCs represents another bold statement by the Lagos State Government to secure the life and property of its residents.
He said the APC has been of tremendous benefit to the people as it once assisted the Police in foiling an attempt by bandits to rob a commercial bank of substantial amounts of money on the Lagos Island.
Monday, February 22, 2010
Funmilayo Ransome Kuti (25 October 1900 – 13 April 1978). A Wonderful Activist And A Great Lagosian.
Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti (1900-1978) was a Nigerian feminist who fought for suffrage and equal rights for her countrywomen long before the second wave of the women's movement in the United States. She also joined the struggle for Nigerian independence as an activist in the anti-colonial movement. Described by many as the mother of women's rights in Nigeria, she was regarded in her time as "The Mother of Africa."
An educationist and an activist, she founded a secondary school in Abeokuta to educate and train Nigerian men and women as future leaders.
She led a successful movement that helped abolish separate tax rates for women. In 1953, she founded the Federation of Nigerian Women Societies which formed an alliance with the Women's International Democratic Federation.
Ransome-Kuti's political activism led to her being described as the doyen of female rights in Nigeria and was regarded as “The Mother of Africa.” Early on she was a very powerful force advocating for women's right to vote. She was described in 1947, by the West African Pilot as the “Lioness of Lisabi” for her leadership of Egba women on a campaign against arbitrary taxation of women. That struggle led to the abdication of the Egba King Oba Ademola II in 1949.
She later ran for a Federal House seat on the ticket of the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC), a political party founded by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe who later became the first president of post-colonial Nigeria. Though she faced opposition in the party and later left politics, she continued her activism.
She died in 1978 as a result of deadly injuries suffered from a brutal military attack and torture ordered by Olusegun Obasanjo, the dictator and Head of State.
Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti is the mother of music legend Fela Anikulapo-Kuti.
Spending more than one hour beside the state's governor fulfilled Eniola Olajuwon's wildest dream and he declared: "I must say that today is the happiest day of my life because His Excellency, the governor of Lagos State, has made it so."
He grinned and clutched Governor Babatunde Fashola's hand as they walked through a line of pupils welcoming the governor to their school, Saint Savior's Schools, Ebutte Meta, on Thursday.
Master Olajuwon had made a promise to his fellow pupils that, if appointed head prefect of the school, he would invite the governor for a lecture on leadership - even though he says he "did not know that the governor will agree; but I hoped and prayed and sent an email to him."
Mr. Fashola said he received the email sent through Eniola's mother's email address on November 19, 2009 and decided to honour the student leader's invitation.
During his lecture, the governor used the head prefect's action as an illustration of the qualities of a good leader.
"You (Eniola) demonstrated leadership; you kept a promise," he said "It was a gamble he took just because he wanted to fulfill a promise. I'm sure he didn't know my email address before then.
"We can learn a lot about leadership when we look around us and see people have done and what we have failed to do," Mr. Fashola surmised and added that "leaders, in my view, do not tell people how to do things; they show them how to do it."
He urged the pupils to always be courageous and responsible, not only for themselves, but for everybody.
"Leaders take responsibility, not only for themselves, but for everybody. Courage does not mean being brave or being strong, it means having faith to continue in the face of fear," he said.
Under the hot sun, which left everybody sweating, the governor discredited the notion that leaders are determined by how much money they have.
"It is not how much money one has that qualifies him to be a leader; it is the moral authority that he can be relied upon. Moral authority comes with the ability to keep promise," he said.
Mr. Fashola said the ability to keep promises will earn a leader the power of persuasion, which must be used to lead the people aright.
Describing the governor, Annette Carter, the school's head teacher said "finding time to honor the promise of a young school boy in Ebutte-meta says a lot about Mr. Fashola."
The visit coincided with the school's diamond jubilee celebration, and the chairperson of the management board, Tom Ogboi, who described the school as the oldest private school in Nigeria, disclosed that the school has decided to supply classroom furniture to some public schools within its locality.
Mr. Ogboi said the furniture will be ready by the end of March, 2010.
Reacting to the donation, Mr. Fashola said the gesture will help his government realise its set goal that "by the end of 2010, no child in any public school in Lagos State will have to sit on the floor without a desk and chair."
"We have done it before. All my education was in this country. I believe that the resources, the skills and the energy that is necessary to produce first class education in this country is within this country," he said.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
2009 Man Of The Year Award By The Sun Newspaper
Feb 20, 2010 - Honours, awards and trophies are tokens of celebration and expression of appreciation for performances that the giver of the honour considers deserving.
As far as I am aware, this honour has been given in recognition of the work that our Government is doing.
I am not the Government, but I am possibly its most visible face.
The Government is constituted by my colleagues in the Executive arm, the Speaker and other legislators in the Legislative arm, the Chief Judge, other judges of the High Court and Magistrates in the Judicial arm. The Local Government Chairmen, our teachers, doctors, nurses, policemen, Firemen, KAI, LASTMA and all the other public servants of Lagos State.
Everything that this Award is all about happened because they did it.
On their behalf, I accept the award and recognize the increased burden of expectation it places on us.
If it requires more than 100% effort to meet those expectations, I assure you that we will gladly give it.
I thank the management of Sun Newspapers for considering us worthy, and on behalf of the Government and people of Lagos State, I congratulate fellow awardee, Mr. Tayo Aderinokun and GT Bank Plc for a well deserved recognition.
Eko o ni baje o
Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN
Olufela Obafunmilayo Sowande (b. Abeokuta, Nigeria, May 1905; d. Ohio, United States, 1987) was a Nigerian musician and composer. Considered the father of modern Nigerian art music, Sowande is perhaps the most internationally known African composer of works in the European "classical" idiom.
Sowande was born in Abeokuta, near Lagos, the son of Emmanuel Sowande, a priest and pioneer of Nigerian church music. The influence of his father and Dr T. K. Ekundayo Phillips (composer, organist and choirmaster) was an important factor in his early years. At that time, he was a chorister and was introduced to new Yoruba works being introduced into the churches. During that period, he studied organ under Phillips (including works by Bach and European classical masters), and earned the Fellowship Diploma (FRCO) from the Royal College of Organists. At that time, he was also a bandleader, playing jazz and popular highlife music. All of these had considerable influence on his work.
In 1934 Sowande went to London to study European classical and popular music. In 1936, he was solo pianist in a performance of George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue. He also played as duo-pianist with Fats Waller, and was theatre organist for the BBC as organist and Choirmaster at Kingsway Hall (unfortunately recently demolished) London and as pianist in the 1936 production of Blackbirds. He also played organ in some recordings by Dame Vera Lynn. Later, he studied organ privately under Edmund Rubbra, George Oldroyd, and George Cunningham and became a fellow of the Royal College of Organists (with credit) in 1943.
He also won several prizes and obtained a Bachelor of Music degree at the University of London and became a fellow of Trinity College of Music. He also worked as musical advisor for the Colonial film Unit of the Ministry of Information during the Second World War, providing background music for educational films.
From 1945, he was a renowned organist and choirmaster at the West London Mission of the Methodist Church until 1952, and a considerable amount of organ music dates from this period. These are based on Nigerian melodies that gave a special appeal to the Black members of his congregation in the early years of migration from Africa and the Caribbean. Also during this time, he became known as a dance pianist, bandleader, and Hammond organist, playing popular tunes of the day.
Western and African ideas prevail in his music which included organ works such as Yorùbá Lament, Obangiji, Kyrie, Gloria, Jesu Olugbala, and Oba Aba Ke Pe. Most of these show a strong influence of Anglican Church music combined with Yoruba pentatonic melodies.
His orchestral works include Six Sketches for Full Orchestra, A Folk Symphony, and African Suite for string orchestra, and show African rhythmic and harmonic characteristics. He has also written a significant amount of secular and sacred choral music, mainly a cappella. Some of these works were composed during his period with the BBC Africa Service. He went back to Africa to scholarly work with the Nigeria Broadcasting Corporation and later the University of Ibadan. In 1968 he moved to Howard University in Washington, D.C., then the University of Pittsburgh.
In the last years of his life Sowande taught in the Department of Pan-African Studies at Kent State University, and lived in nearby Ravenna, Ohio with his wife, Eleanor McKinney, who was one of the founders of Pacifica Radio. He is buried in Randolph Township, Ohio.
Sowande also held the title "Chief Bariyo of Lagos."
There is currently a move to set up a centre to research and promote his works, as many remain unpublished or are out of print.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Whenever 27-year-old Folakemi Shodiya gets behind the wheels of her new refuse disposal truck, she has a broad smile, an indication of her satisfaction with her new job.
“I really have interest in driving, and when I saw that LAWMA (Lagos Waste Management Agency) was advertising for women drivers, I grabbed the chance,” she said. “I used to be a make-up artist, but I am now happy that whenever people see me driving, they are very surprised and also pleased that a woman is behind the wheels.”
Ms. Shodiya is among the first batch of 15 women who were trained by the waste management agency to drive the mini skip trucks recently acquired by the organisation. The women were also trained to act as health instructors.
Why the mini?
According to the managing director of the waste management agency, Ola Oresanya, the mini trucks were bought to take care of litter bins distributed in selected areas of the metropolis, and also assist the larger skip trucks by moving into narrow streets where big trucks find it difficult to access.
“The mini trucks are mainly to take care of the litter bins,” said Mr. Oresanya. “These ladies have a specific assignment of emptying the litter bins, and also intervene in areas like inner narrow streets where the bigger trucks cannot access. People accord these ladies respect, and it is adding value to the image of the organisation. These ladies also double as health educators, and people listen to them.”
Mr. Oresanya reveals that the policy was adopted with the aim of maintaining staff welfare, adding that this has served as the driving force behind the dedication of the agency personnel.
“We felt that there shouldn’t be any type of gender discrimination, and because we believe in being fair to all at LAWMA,” he said. “When you look at our core values at LAWMA, we believe in the welfare of our workers. If you do not care for your workers, how do you care for other people?
“We look at our differences in gender, and see it as strength. The secret to the high sense of dedication noticed in our workers is because we care more than other organisations. Let me tell you; the average Nigerian worker is very special; he can work in almost any condition. And so we aim to encourage our workers. Go to the streets as early as 5am, and you see our workers. Nigerians are ready to work; some work as much as three shifts. The policy thrust in LAWMA is to constantly encourage our workers. We allow our workers to set their agenda. We feel very happy that our workers are very dedicated to the agency’s objectives of keeping the city clean.”
The sight of the smartly attired ladies behind the wheels of the skip trucks has a curious mellow effect on the characteristic aggressive Lagos citizen. Most respondents agreed that they respond better to the women drivers, and urged that more women be given such opportunities.
“I have always wondered why the LAWMA road sweepers are more of women, while the truck drivers are men,” said Bukola Johnson, a resident of Apapa, which falls under Ms. Shodiya’s jurisdiction.
“Now, I must say that the LAWMA people have really done a great job by allocating those trucks to women. I have noticed that people, especially men, are more courteous towards them than the men drivers. When they stop to carry the litter bins, you will actually see people coming to help them.”
Another respondent, Ime Nsikan, gives kudos to the waste management agency, and urges other government bodies to follow suit.
“For me, LAWMA is one of the most successful government parastatals under (the state governor) Fashola, and I believe other ones like LASTMA and BRT should be copying them,” she said. “Why can’t we see female BRT (bus) drivers? I believe that it is all about training and commitment; and such policies will always work well.”
For Ms. Shodiya, the policy is definitely working well, as evident in the enthusiasm she exhibits whenever she is behind the wheels of her truck.
“When people see me and start shouting ‘Omo Fashola,’ I feel happy because it shows that they appreciate me; and I also feel happy that I am showing that women too can drive big trucks very well,” she said.
By Chinedu Ozordi
February 13, 2010 11:08PM
Thursday, February 11, 2010
TBS managers unfold dome, Eyo designs
The picture of a new Tafawa Balewa Square is gradually evolving as the new managers, Big Hope Services International Limited, has completed architectural designs of a calabash dome and Eyo for the complex
It has also hinted of plans to erect statues of five Nigeria’s independence heroes including the late Tafawa Balewa, Nnamidi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, Sir Ahmadu Bello and Mrs. Margaret Ekpo at a strategic spot for visitors to appreciate.
The foundation laying stones for these five busts was expected to be performed by President Umaru Yar’Adua which was originally scheduled for last December, but had to be postponed due to some developments.
A statement by the BHS obtained on Saturday the drawings for the two major structures in the proposed new TBS was a reflection of the commitment of the new managers to preserve and promote the nation’s cultural and historical value.
The dome would house a museum, art galleries, theatre, studios, office suites, among others, while halls, event venues would be inside the Eyo building, it added.
It said that BHS’s choice of calabash was based on the fact that the calabash is a household African native item that cut across cultures, while Eyo represented a significant culture of the host state, Lagos.
“A city centre of this nature with art and culture outlook along side other businesses in the same complex, would turn Lagos into the next attraction in tourism and business travel in the world of hospitality,” it added.
The BHS Project Architect, Mr. Akintunde Aboderin, wondered why Nigerians who travel far and wide, either for business or tourism, visiting famous and notable cultural and tourists sites around the world, had never bothered to find out why foreigners did not find the nation attractive.
He said, “For us at BHS International, we have found the answer to the weak destination attraction of the country. That answer is art and culture of which we have a master plan for the proposed TBS City Centre.
“Even though the initial master plan is currently undergoing some modification and eventual approval by the Lagos State Government, the tourism focus of the city centre remains intact, hence the calabash dome and Eyo in retrospect.”