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Senate summons security chiefs over illegal arms

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N’Assembly begins probe into invasion by thugs
• Presidency has confirmed Buhari unfit, says PDP

The Senate, yesterday, summoned heads of the nation’s security agencies with a view to curbing illegal possession of firearms.

The security chiefs were Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris; Director-General, Department of State Services, Lawal Daura; Comptroller-General of Customs, Hameed Ali; Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, and others.

The lawmakers blamed the situation on negligence by government agencies tasked with controlling how individuals and corporate entities acquire firearms. Consequently, the Senate mandated its committee on Intelligence and National Security to probe the remote and immediate causes of the problem.

The resolutions followed the adoption of a motion sponsored by Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi, who traced the genesis of unlawful possession of firearms to the cases of religious, communal and other conflicts across the country.

Hunkuyi regretted that despite repeated killings in Benue, Kaduna, Kogi, Zamfara and other states, government has not done enough to curtail the illegal possession of arms.

He warned that unless the matter is tackled urgently, ongoing calls by some opinion leaders for self-defence could make more citizens stock up on firearms.

In his contribution, Senator Shehu Sani accused the political class of complicity on the matter. He said the rate at which people were being killed suggests the country has more illegal firearms than ever before. He called for a new national mindset where people would see politics as an opportunity to serve rather than a do-or-die affair.

Senate Leader, Ahmad Lawan, also insisted the proliferation of firearms explains the many killings in the country. He tasked the security chiefs to find a lasting solution to the issue.

Senate President Bukola Saraki, while approving the resolutions, said the rate of the killings and poor response by the security agencies called for a concerted effort.

Also, Saraki inaugurated an ad-hoc committee of Senate and House of Representatives members to probe the April 18 invasion by thugs who made away with the upper legislative chamber’s mace.

The committee is to be chaired by Deputy Senate Leader, Bala Na’ Allah.

The Senate president said: “The incident will go down as one of the darkest days of our democracy. The precincts of the National Assembly are not just places where the National Assembly meets, they are the symbol of our liberty and freedom from autocracy, and the base of our democracy.

“This should not happen. It should never have happened. The violation of this solemn place, the symbol of our liberty, by a group of mobsters and criminals, cannot simply be ignored. It has been inferred in many quarters that a serving, distinguished senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria led this group of thugs and urchins. This is most despicable and unspeakable.”

He added: “We owe it a duty that the legislative process is purged of this dirt and the legislature restored to its full place of dignity. This is a duty that must be achieved. We cannot let a precedence proceed from this. Everyone involved, from conception to execution of this heinous crime, must be brought to book.

“This committee, therefore, must see its charge as pivotal to the restoration of the sanctity, the preservation of the dignity of the National Assembly, and the restoration of the security, integrity and moral authority of the National Assembly.”

Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), yesterday, said: “After months of deceit, the Presidency has confirmed that President Muhammadu Buhari is unwell, ailing and unfit to attend to state matters.”

The party described as unfortunate the fact that “the President and his handlers had chosen to shroud the issue of his persistent illness in secrecy in a government that prides itself on claims of transparency and integrity.”

At a press conference in Abuja, the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said: “Nigerians were taken for granted, deceived and treated like lesser men and women without reasoning capacity, while our nation, at those periods, was left with no leadership, as Mr. President refused to transmit power as required by the 1999 Constitution, as amended.”

The PDP said though it has nothing against Buhari’s decision to take care of his ailing health, it “detests the deception and lies that trailed the handling of his unabated health issue.

“Even as we speak, Nigerians are not aware of the ailment our President is suffering from and the identity of the doctors and the hospital attending to him.

Shortly before the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in April, Mr. President, without transmitting a letter to the National Assembly, as required by the constitution, undertook a private visit to the U.K., where his doctors are known to reside, five clear days ahead of CHOGM.

“Nigerians were left in the dark for the period, despite demands for full disclosure by the PDP. Only last week, two days after his departure from the United States where he had gone for a state visit, Mr. President went ‘missing’ again. When concerns began to mount on his whereabouts, the Presidency claimed he had a ‘technical stopover in the U.K., citing flight issues, only for revelations to emerge from the same Presidency, on Monday, that Mr. President was actually in the U.K. to see his doctors.”

The PDP also drew the attention of Nigerians and the international community to the “import of the response by the Presidency to the petition filed by our party to the United Nations, detailing the gross violation of human rights, mass killings, state- sponsored violence, persecution of the opposition, subversion of democratic tenets and large-scale corruption by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government.”

The party said it was incontrovertible that “our petition, which was signed by our National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, embodies the pains, anguish, mood, wishes and voice of the generality of Nigerians across board, particularly the victims of extrajudicial killings, state instigated violence, arrests and detentions, economic hardship occasioned by large-scale corruption and government incompetence.”

It noted: “The world was, however, shocked when the Buhari presidency, in a brash show of power and siege mentality, arrogantly dismissed the issues raised by the PDP and the international agencies as ‘comical’, and even went ahead to issue new threats to opposition and dissenting voices in our country.”

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Construction of Local Content Board Headquarters, a Token of Redemption for Niger Delta Region – Ekon

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Chairman House Committee on Local Content and Member Representing Abak/Etim Ekpo/Ika Federal Constituency, Rt. Hon. Emmanuel Ekon, has described the ongoing construction of a 17 floor head office building of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) in Bayelsa State, as a token of redemption for the Niger Delta region.

Speaking alongside a cross section of the Committee Members at a Transformation Leadership and Management Workshop organized by the Management of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) in Yenogoa, Bayelsa State, the lawmaker stated that he was “pleased that a token of redemption is risen in the Niger Delta region with the presence of the new headquarters building of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board”.

The landmark edifice located at the Bayelsa State Capital, Yenagoa, handled by Megastar Tech and Construction Company is one of several flagship projects of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) and part of his committee’s repositioning of the local content board as a hub for industrial revolution and job creation.

While on a tour of the construction site, the lawmaker expressing satisfaction with the level of work done within the stipulated time frame by the contractor and commended the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) for making sure the project meets specification. He stated that with a renewed vision, the board is energized to deliver on its constitutional mandate to the Niger Delta and Nigeria at large.

Ekon further added that upon completion, the local content board will have a functional administrative headquarters and also bring the board closer to the Niger Delta region which is the mainstay of oil and gas explorations in Nigeria. He said the Local Content Board has come off age and urged other federal agencies to emulate the board by relying on indigenous companies to executr projects of this magnitude.

The Executive Secretary of NCDMB, Engr. Simbi Wabote, who took the lawmakers round the project site, reiterated the lawmaker’s position that the decision to embark on the building a 17-storey head office building was to create an enabling environment for Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) to concretise their administrative base in the Niger Delta region.

It was gathered that the project which is the first of its kind in the Niger Delta is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

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Ekere to build new mechanic village in Uyo

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The Governorship Candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Obong Nsima Ekere, has promised to establish a new mechanic village in Uyo, the state capital, if elected Governor on Saturday.

Speaking during a visit to the mechanic village located at Afaha Offot in Uyo on Thursday, Obong Ekere said the proposed mechanic village will be patterned after what is obtained in advanced countries of the world.

He decried the deplorable state of the present village, established more than 30 years ago, and promised to construct an access road to the village immediately after his inauguration on May 29, 2019.

The APC standard bearer criticised Governor Udom Emmanuel for failing to fulfill the promise he made, four years ago, to reconstruct the village and for coming recently to again deceive the occupants of the village after failing to ameliorate their suffering for nearly four years.

“Akwa Ibom State does not need a lying Governor. That is why we are embracing change. Change has come to Akwa Ibom State. Akwa Ibom State is getting to the next level,” he said.

Obong Ekere charged the technicians in the Mechanic Village to protect and follow their votes to the collation centres.

Senator John Udoedehe, a former Minister of State for the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, who is an indigene of Afaha Offot, wondered why Governor Udom Emmanuel came to campaign in the Mechanic Village after failing to fulfill his promise to develop the village made four years ago.

“Any government that looks down on mechanics, that government is a fool because you are the employers of labour. Nsima Ekere’s government will retrain and equip you. I want you to be agents for Nsima Ekere because Nsima Ekere is your future. Politics is a game of development. If Udom had performed, we would have nothing to campaign with,” he said.

Senator Udoedehe commended Obong Ekere for awarding a contract for the expansion of the internal roads in Afaha Offot and condemned Governor Emmanuel for refusing to equip the Primary Health Centre which he attracted to the village.

He said that he had also attracted an electrification project from the Ministry of Niger Delta to Afaha Offot.

Atuekong Don Etiebet, the Chairman of the Akwa Ibom State APC Caucus, described Obong Ekere as a quality person who will turn the mechanic village to a quality place.

He predicted total victory for the APC in the Governorship and House of Assembly elections.

Comrade Ufot Eno, the Secretary of the Nigeria Automobile Technicians Association (NATA), Mechanic Village, Uyo, Branch, who represented the Chairman, said Obong Ekere would be elected Governor of Akwa Ibom State, come rain come shine, disclosing that President Muhammadu Buhari won in the Mechanic Village polling unit during the February 26, 2019 election.

Mrs. Iniobong Ekanem, the Women Coordinator of NATA, Mechanic Village Branch, predicted victory for Obong Ekere and appealed to him to build what she called “a digital mechanic village” when he becomes Governor.

Eteidung David Etuk, the Village Head of Afaha Offot, who was present during the visit, thanked Obong Ekere for constructing roads in the village during his tenure as the Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and expressed the belief that the APC standard bearer will transform the Mechanic Village if elected Governor.

He assured Obong Ekere of the votes of Mechanic Village and the larger Afaha Offot Village, adding that they had a stake in Obong Ekere’s incoming government through Senator Udoedehe, an insider.

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Girls are no longer victims but survivors – Eno-Obong Nkereuwem

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An emerging social crusader and girl rights advocate, Ms. Eno-Obong Nkereuwem has said that girls are no longer victims but survivors who remain resilient in the face of daunting challenges.

Narrating a story of her recent work with Smartmothers Foundation – an Akwa Ibom based NGO that aims to educate 3,000 students on sexual education and reduce the menace of teenage pregnancy across high schools, she wrote on her timelime:

“Barely less than a week after joining Smartmothers Foundation founded by Sifon Udo, I was handed my first challenge of coordinating an outreach. I was initially jittery for two reasons. Firstly, I had never coordinated an outreach of this sort, and secondly, the timing for me was quite ‘short’.”

“Buoyed by my passion, I knew this was a project that must happen. Sadly, the narrative around the girl-child has been demeaning and sometimes, hurting. And maybe I’m convinced it’s time to challenge this norm and recognise the place of the girl-child. I have been pondering well on this.”

“It touches my humanity that young schoolgirls are subjected to various degrees of abuse for things they cannot control while the society continues to look away. She reaches puberty and because she cannot afford pad, she becomes vulnerable to men who entice them with ‘money’ and most times lure them to bed resulting in teenage pregnancy. It’s a simple but dehumanizing cycle!”

“We live in a society that distributes free condoms instead of teaching young people to appreciate their sexuality and stay away from early sex. But can’t the society donate free pads to teenage girls? Can’t the society initiate stronger policies that protects the girl-child and reduce the menace of teenage pregnancy across high schools in Akwa Ibom State? The questions are endless!”

“But in of all these, young girls must develop their capacities and realise that we’re no longer victims but survivors who remain resilient in the face of daunting challenges.”

“Thank you Mr Gideon Ekanem
Thank you Smartmomsfoundation for believing in me to deliver.”

“SESEP was a success and we have GOD to thank for that.”

She called on well-meaning Nigerians to join the movement and donate pads to support the cause.

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NGO Targets 3,000 Students on Sex Education, Teenage Pregnancy in Akwa Ibom

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Smartmothers Foundation, an NGO based in Akwa Ibom State, on Tuesday said it had concluded plans to educate 3,000 students on sexual education and reduce the menace of teenage pregnancy across high schools in Akwa Ibom State.

The NGO disclosed this in a flyer exclusively obtained by Akwa Ibom INFO on its Sex Education Sensitization Programme organised for teenage students of Community Comprehensive Secondary School, Four Towns Uyo, tagged: “Sex Education is the Right of Every Teenager”.

The Program Director, Ms Eno-Obong Nkereuwem said that the sensitization programme is aimed at interfacing with young school children to reduce teenage pregnancy and also enlighten them on the basics of sex education.

Meanwhile, Akwa Ibom INFO learnt that the the founder of the NGO, Sifon Udo is targeting at empowering 3,000 teenage students in select schools across three Akwa Ibom senatorial zones.

According to her, pre-marital pregnancy in Nigeria is the highest in sub-Sahara Africa and is mostly prevalent amongst teenage girls in high school.

“The event slated for tomorrow, 28th February, 2019, will educate over 1000 teenagers and share pads to 200 vulnerable female students who cannot afford it and as a result resort to sex in order to get one”.

“Most young girls resort to sleeping with their peers or older men to give them money to buy pad. We are sharing the pads to them and giving them other options of getting pads instead of sleeping around.

“We are also educating young girls, ladies in particular and the public, about menstrual hygiene as well as breaking the stigma, clarifying myths and misconceptions around menstruation.

“There will also be pep talks on girl child empowerment, self esteem and confidence as a tool for nation building and donation of free sanitary pads and other hygiene products.

“Providing sanitary pads to young girls in schools will go a long way in supporting and dissuading them from keeping unhealthy relationships with the opposite sex. There’s reducing the rate of teenage pregnancy.” Eno-obong said.

Sifon stressed the urgent need for government at all levels to incorporate sex education into the school curriculum, so as to extend this sustainable value to teenagers in other schools in Nigeria.

The foundation calls on individuals and organizations to donate sanitary pads to support vulnerable teen girls in schools.

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