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SERAP Writes Trump, Seeks Travel Ban For Governors Jailing Journalists, Others

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Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent an open letter to the US President Donald Trump asking him to exercise his constitutional powers “pursuant to the Presidential Proclamations 7750 and 8697 to instruct the US Secretary of State and US Ambassador in Nigeria to temporarily ban Nigerian state governors and other senior public officials misusing the criminal justice system to jail journalists, bloggers and activists reporting on allegations of corruption from entering the US.”

SERAP also urged Mr Trump to “use Presidential Proclamation 8697 (which allows the US Department of State to deny visas to foreign officials, their families and friends) who participate in serious human rights violations and other abuses such as misusing the criminal justice system to jail journalists, bloggers and activists to prevent them from reporting on allegations of corruption and other related cases.”

The letter followed SERAP’s report titled “A Downward Spiral: How Federal and State Authorities are Tightening the Screws on Media Freedom in Nigeria” and launched today in Lagos.

In the letter dated 30 October 2019 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “Democracy demands ‘maximum disclosure’ of all government held information, and this won’t happen without respect for media freedom and the citizens’ rights to know. Undue restrictions on media freedom and the right to know would imply nothing short of abrogation of the ideals of democracy and good governance. Citizens’ right to know is vital for social welfare and other human rights.”

SERAP also said, “Media freedom and the right of citizens to know constitute a crucial bulwark of democracy. It is essential for the general progress of a democratic society if people are to effectively monitor their government’s affairs and democratically participate in the running of society, they must have access to government-held information, which the media should be allowed to freely report.”

SERAP’s report documents the increasing cases of harassment, intimidation, arbitrary arrests and detention and deaths of journalists, bloggers and other media workers while carrying out their legitimate work

SERAP’s letter read in part: “Specifically, the report documents cases of attacks on journalists, bloggers and activists reporting on allegations of corruption and related matters in the following states of Nigeria: Cross River state; Abia state; Ebonyi state; Kano state; Jigawa state; Bauchi state; and Kaduna state.”

“Also, 109 journalists were attacked between 2010 and 2015, and several more journalists, bloggers, radio and TV stations and activists have been targeted since 2015. At least 36 attacks on journalists were recorded between January and July 2019 alone, 30 of the attacks happening during the 2019 general elections.”

“The attacks and harassment include arbitrary arrests and detention, physical attacks and even deaths. In 2018, at least 45 radio and TV stations were sanctioned by the authorities on unfounded allegations of breaching some codes of conduct.”

“Proactive initiatives to protect media freedom and human rights that would invariably contribute to transparency and accountability globally have always been in the best long-term interests of the US. Your application of targeted sanctions would reaffirm US commitments to human rights, and media freedom and help to supplement the criminal justice in Nigeria and be entirely consistent with the US international obligations.

“SERAP believes that your government’s imposition of targeted sanctions against those accused of misusing the criminal justice system to attack, intimidate, harass and jail journalists, bloggers and activists in Nigeria would help to deter other state governments, governors and other senior public officials from limiting the enjoyment of Nigerians’ right to information about what their government is doing in their names.”

“Such sanctions would not violate due process and presumption of innocence principles, as long as the reasons for the sanctions are communicated to those that may be affected, as what is recommended is a temporary travel ban. We argue that the imposition of temporary travel bans on public officials complicit in violation of media freedom and preventing reporting of allegations of corruption is a preventive and not punitive measure.”

“SERAP therefore urges you to apply the presidential proclamations 7750 and 8697 as instruments of foreign policy to promote targeted sanctions against state governments, governors and other senior public officials in Nigeria, just as the US has for many years applied targeted sanctions, including imposing travel restrictions on systematic violations of human rights.”

“SERAP believes that applying presidential proclamations 7750 and 8697 as recommended would be very helpful to Nigeria’s efforts to protect media freedom, improve transparency and accountability and generally ensure full respect for the human rights of journalists, bloggers and activists across Nigeria. It would also facilitate equivalent visa bans in other globally desirable locations as well.”

“SERAP hopes that you will exercise your constitutional powers to promote human rights, media freedom, transparency and accountability in Nigeria.”

“SERAP also notes that Presidential Proclamations 7750 and 8697 underscore the important role of the media in the establishment of legitimate and transparent public institutions to world stability, peace, and development.”

“The proclamations note the US ‘enduring commitment to respect for human rights and humanitarian law’, which requires that its Government be able to ensure that the US does not become a safe haven for suspected violators of human rights and other abuses. They also aim to help the US authorities to secure peace, promote the rule of law, combat crime and corruption, and strengthen democracies around the globe.”

“Significantly, the Presidential Proclamations underscore that it is in the interests of the United States to take action to restrict the international travel and to suspend the entry into the United States, as immigrants or non-immigrants, of certain persons who are suspected to be involved in serious violations of human rights, humanitarian law and other abuses.”

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Eid-El Fitr: Gov. Bala Urges Muslims To Emulate Prophet Muhammad By Making Sacrifices Beneficial To Less Privileged People

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Bauchi State Governor, Senator Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed, Kauran Bauchi has enjoined Muslim ummah in the state to emulate prophet Muhammad by making sacrifices for the benefit of less privileged members of the society as they celebrate this year’s Eid-El fitr.

The Governor in a Goodwill message on the occasion of the 2020 Eid-El fitr celebration, urged them to use the celebration to reflect on their past activities so that they may take corrective measures towards improving their relationship with their creator.

According to him, Eid-El fitr celebration marks the end end of the mandatory fasting which entailed abstinence from some of the most basic human needs such as eating, drinking and pleasure of the flesh during the day.

” Fasting strengthens our faith in the Almighty Allah and purifies our souls and guides our utterances and conduct, muslims believe that Ramadan teaches self discipline, self control, sacrifice and empathy with those who are the less privileged thus encouraging actions of generosity and clarity.

” It is my hope that we will continue to be responsible in both our utterances and conduct even after the Ramadan period, as believers, we should be guided by the teachings of Ramadan in our day to day dealings with our brothers and sisters and extend hands of fellowship to adherents of other faith.

He also called on them to consider the occasion a period to imbibe the spirit of forgiveness, love, generosity and respect for one another.

Governor Bala Mohammed said the state government on its part, is committed to maintain peaceful and harmonious coexistence amongst the various interest groups in the state and therefore appealed for tolerance and accommodation by the different ethnic, religious and political groups.

” I would like to appeal to all and sundry to join hands with the Government towards our resolve to establish a peaceful, prosperous and United Bauchi state. ”

On COVID-19 pandemic, the Governor observed that the, current economic downturn and its attendant consequences arising from the virus will no doubt have adverse effect on how majority of the people celebrate the Eid-El Fitr.

” I want you to see this as a temporary set back that affects the whole world and will be over in no distant future by the grace of Almighty Allah. Government has eased the lockdown restrictions in consideration of the tremendous achievement recorded in preventing the spread of COVID-19 pandemic in the state.”

He tasked people not to relax in taking preventive measures such as, maintaining social and physical distancing, observing constant washing of hands with soap and water, use of face masks among others.

He assured that, government is doing everything possible to alleviate the sufferings of its people in addition to the measures taken to contain the spread of the disease.

” Government is not unaware of the discomfort our people are facing both economically and spiritually as a result of this pandemic, that is why I directed the early payment of May salaries and pensions to enable the workers and retirees to celebrate the Eid-El fitr joyfully, I assure you that the present administration will not fail in its responsibilities to see to the welfare of the people of the state.”

Governor Bala Mohammed used the opportunity to call on all motorists to observe traffic regulations so as to reduce accidents on highways throughout the period of the celebration.

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Eid-el-Fitri: Oyo State Governor Felicitates Muslims, Calls For Prayers For Nigeria And States

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The Oyo State governor, Engineer Seyi Makinde, has congratulated Muslims in the state and beyond on the successful completion of the month-long Ramadan fasting.

He expressed gratitude to Muslims and residents of the state for remaining steadfast despite the situation imposed on the state by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The governor equally rallied them to use the auspicious occasion of the Eid-el-Fitri to make supplications for themselves, the state and Nigeria.

A statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, quoted Governor Makinde as saying that it was regrettable that Muslims in the state and across the country cannot observe Eid-el-Fitri prayer this year the usual way, adding that the situation should be seen as “part of the sacrifice we all have to make at this time.

”He said: “It is gratifying to note that we are concluding this year’s Ramadan on a good note.“Despite the current COVID-19 pandemic ravaging the whole world, the Almighty Allah allowed Muslims in Oyo State to join the Muslim Ummah in making supplications for the forgiveness of our sins.

“I remain grateful to my Muslim brothers and sisters and residents of the state for remaining steadfast despite the situation imposed on us by the COVID-19 pandemic.

”Governor Makinde sought for the continued support and cooperation of the Muslim Ummah and all residents of the state in adhering to the COVID-19 protocol such as wearing of face masks, observing social distancing, regular washing of hands and eating of immune-boosting foods and others, as directed by the Oyo State COVID-19 Task Force.

He promised to continue to make life more meaningful to all residents of the state, reiterating his administration’s commitment to the socio-economic transformation and the infrastructural revolution currently going on in the state.

“On the part of this pacesetter government, I solemnly promise that we shall continue to make life more meaningful to all the people of Oyo State through policies and programmes that are godly and humane.

“As we look forward to an end to the current gloom and a return to normalcy, let us continue to work together for the safety, wellbeing and prosperity of our state.“Once again, I felicitate our Muslim brothers and sisters and our community,” the governor said.

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Sallah Celebration: Gov. Ayade Urges Muslims To Embrace Love And Unity

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Cross River State Governor, Sir Ben Ayade has urged peace, love and unity among Nigerians as Muslims celebrate Eid-El- Fitr which marks the end of the thirty days Ramadan Fast.

The Governor in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity,Mr Christian Ita said Nigerians must use the period for a sober reflection on the state of things in the country.

While congratulating the Muslims Ummah for completing one of the Five Pillars of Islam, he urged them to remember that moderation is important in everything one does.

He said the poor and less privileged people in society must be catered, a principle which informed his decision to exempt low income earners from taxation, including the petty traders in Bogobiri Muslim Community.

He told the faithful that the month of Ramadan is intended to teach all Ummah how to live good and compassionate lives which must continue even after the Ramadan fast.

“Ramadan is a month of sacrifice, abstinence and above all, love and care for humanity. I encourage you all to be your brother’s keeper. Look out for your neighbour in the firm belief that he too will look out for you and most importantly always use your face masks while going out to contain the Spread of Covid-19 disease.

“As you celebrate Eid-el-fitr, which marks the end of the Ramadan fast, I urge everyone, regardless of your religious beliefs, to continue to keep the peace and to live in unity with one another in Nigeria and particularly in Cross River State”he said.

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