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Senate Proposes 14-Year Jail Term For Sexual Predators In Tertiary Institutions

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The Senate on Wednesday debated two critical bills – the Sexual Harassment Bill and President Muhammadu Buhari’s Finance Bill, 2019.

The bills, which scaled second reading on the floor of the Senate, were sponsored by the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege and Senate Leader, Abdullahi Yahaya, respectively.

The proposed legislation titled “A Bill for an Act to Prevent, Prohibit and Redress Sexual Harassment of Students in Tertiary Educational Institutions and for other matters connected therewith 2019” has 27 clauses.

According to a statement signed by the Special Assistant (Press) to President of the Senate, Ezrel Tabiowo, the bill proposes up to 14 years jail term, with a minimum of five years, without an option of fine for any educator who commits sexual offences in tertiary institutions.

It defines sexual offences as including: sexual intercourse with a student or demands for sex from a student or a prospective student or intimidating or creating a hostile or offensive environment for the student by soliciting for sex or making sexual advances.

Other forms of sexual harassment identified in the bill are grabbing, hugging, kissing, rubbing, stroking, touching, pinching the breasts or hair or lips or hips or buttocks or any other sensual part of the body of a student; or sending by hand or courier or electronic or any other means naked or sexually explicit pictures or videos or sex related objects to a student, and whistling or winking at a student or screaming, exclaiming, joking or making sexually complimentary or uncomplimentary remarks about a student’s physique or stalking a student.

Senator Omo-Agege, in his lead debate, said: “the most effective way to deal with the offence of sexual harassment in our tertiary institutions is to penalise the very impropriety of the act, with or without consent.”

According to him, sexual harassment must be defined in tertiary educational institutions as statutory rape with strict liability for offenders to be prosecuted easily.

On the extension of the bill to primary, secondary schools, worship centres and work place, Omo-Agege said doing so will not be necessary because the Criminal and Penal codes already adequately deals with these categories with sufficient clarity.

He, however, stressed that the bill prescribes expulsion for students who falsely accuse educators of sexual harassment.

He said, “An educator whose character is maligned is at liberty to sue for defamation under the law of defamation which is well-settled in our jurisprudence and needs no duplication in this bill.”

The Senate also on Wednesday considered President Muhammadu Buhari’s Finance Bill, 2019.

Leading debate on the bill, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi (APC, Kebbi North), said the bill essentially seeks to promote fiscal equity by mitigating instances of regressive taxation; reforming domestic laws to align with global best practices; and introducing tax incentives for investments in infrastructure and capital markets.

The bill also seeks to support small businesses in line with ongoing ease of doing business reform, and raising revenues for government by various fiscal measures, including a proposal to increase the rate of Value Added Tax from 5 percent to 7.5 per cent.

According to Abdullahi, the additional revenues to be made by the Federal Government when this bill becomes law will be used to fund health, education and infrastructure programmes.

“It is absolutely essential to intensify the revenue generation efforts of this administration and its commitment to ensuring that the inconvenience associated with any fiscal policy adjustments is moderated such that the poor and the vulnerable, who are most at risk, do not bear the brunt of these reforms,” Abdullahi said.

Other bills which scaled second reading on the floor are: A Bill for an Act to provide for the establishment of the Federal University of Education, Kontagora, sponsored by Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (APC, Niger North), and A Bill for an Act to establish the Federal College of Education, Illo, sponsored by Senator Yahaya Abdullahi (APC, Kebbi North).

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TOUCHING: Troops Renovate Road Leading to Boko Haram Hideout in Borno

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The Nigerian Army has maintained its onslaught against Boko Haram/ISWAP fighters.

The gallant troops of Operation Lafiya Dole have left no stone unturned in its bid to totally wipe out the fleeing insurgents.

As seen in some photos that went viral on social media a couple of months ago, the troops were pictured constructing a bridge leading to secret hideout of the radical Islamic sect.

Yet again, the gallant troops have displayed selflessness and rare patriotism.

This time around, though, the troops proved that they are not only engaged in the counter insurgency operations but are also working hard to mend the abandoned roads into the areas.

The gallant troops of Sector 3 Operation Lafiya Dole were spotted fixing bad portions of the road from Monguno-Kekeno-Cross Kauwa, Borno State.

It will be recalled that no fewer than 50 Boko Haram fighters were killed by the Nigerian Army around the said road in April.

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Human Rights Coalition Lauds Indian Government Over Ban of Amnesty International

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The Coalition for Human Rights Monitoring Groups in Nigeria (CHRMGN) has hailed India for the ban meted on international non-governmental organization, Amnesty International (AI).

Following suspicious activities, the Asian nation in 2014 began a crack down on foreign NGOs, suspending or banning thousands of groups, many working in health or the environment, for receiving money from abroad

AI recently received the chop, for amongst others, violating foreign exchange regulations through taking money from its London-based parent.

The Coalition for Human Rights Monitoring Groups in Nigeria has advised the Nigerian government to take a leaf from its Indian counterparts, especially after several evidence against the supposed humanitarian group.

The group made this known at a press conference on Saturday in Abuja on the need to commence investigation on source of funding of Amnesty International and other NGOs operating in the country.

In a statement signed by Gabriel Agibi, the coalition revealed that this has become imperative owing to the nature of NGOs activities and how their actions, in many instances, have caused security threats in the country.

The group said it came to this conclusion after stakeholder’s emergency general meeting.

The group recounts how the AI, on numerous occasions, attempted to undermine the progress of the Nigerian military in the North-East.

According to them, if relevant authorities in Nigeria fail to commence detailed investigations into the sources of funding of the NGOs in Nigeria, it may hamper the fight against terrorism.

Read full press statement:

The Coalition of Human Rights Monitoring Groups in Nigeria dedicated to assessing and monitoring the level of human rights compliance of critical organs of government in Nigeria wishes to bring to the notice of the relevant authorities in Nigeria on the need for detailed investigations into the sources of funding of Amnesty International ( AI) and other NGO’s operating in Nigeria.

This is given the suspect nature of the activities of NGOs in operation in Nigeria and how their actions, in many instances, have caused security threats in the country.

The Coalition of Human Rights Monitoring Groups, having studied the recent happenings in India, where Amnesty International was caught in the web of illicit funds transactions, views the development as worrisome given the global posture on human rights by Amnesty international. This is aside from the fact that Amnesty International has, in numerous instances, constituted themselves as parallel governments in countries where they operate.

The Coalition of Human Rights Monitoring Groups in Nigeria after a stakeholder’s emergency general meeting came up with the unanimous decision for the Nigerian authorities to commence immediate investigations into the funding of the operations and activities of Amnesty International in Nigeria.

This is highly recommended given the threat terrorism has posed in Nigerian and around the world, where terrorist organisations have perfected the art of using NGOs to transfer illicit funds for the operations of their affiliates all around the world.

The Nigerian authorities must also, as a matter of urgency, launch an investigation into the operations and funding of other NGOs operating in Nigeria to identify their sources of funding.

The Nigerian authorities must treat this call as a matter of urgency in the best interest of the generality of Nigerians who have been subjected to untold hardship as a result of the nefarious activities of some NGOs who have been collaborating with some foreign interest to undermine the sovereignty of Nigeria.

The Coalition of Human Rights Monitoring Groups in Nigeria wishes to state that there is multiple evidence to suggest that the bulk of the NGOs operating in Nigeria have ulterior motives aimed at causing unrest in Nigeria.

The situation in North-East Nigeria provides us with vivid examples of how the NGOs have been undermining the efforts of the Military in the fight against terrorism. Worthy of mention is Amnesty International in its annual reports accusing the Nigerian Military of Human Rights violations, which is, in most instances, fabrications and half-truths.

The Coalition of Human Rights Monitoring Groups in Nigeria wishes to state in unequivocal terms that should the relevant authorities in Nigeria fail to commence detailed investigations into the sources of funding of the NGOs in Nigeria, the fight against terrorism in Nigeria would continue to remain a mirage.

The Coalition of Human Rights Monitoring Groups in Nigeria wishes to commend the Indian authorities in India for taking the bold step of expelling Amnesty International from their country for nefarious acts.

It is expected that the Nigerian Authorities should learn from the Indian example and act in the best interest of the country if we are desirous of winning the war against terrorism in Nigeria.

The Nigerian authorities must also act decisively in dealing with NGOs found to be operating against extant laws in Nigeria.

The Indian example should serve as an eye-opener on the activities of Amnesty International in Nigeria and other places where it operates and why Nigerians should disregard the constant fabrications in its annual reports.

The activities of Amnesty International in Nigeria have been suspect as echoed in times past in numerous forums, especially with its constant attacks against the operations of the Nigerian Military in the theatre of operations in North-East Nigeria, as well as its tactic support to other militant groups in Nigeria such as the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN).

The Nigerian Authorities must act now as a matter of urgency in commencing investigations not just on the source of funding of Amnesty International as well as other NGOs in operation in Nigeria, it must also put in place measures that would keep NGOs operating in Nigeria in check.

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It’s Part of Third Term Agenda, Says Falana Over Attack on Media

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Femi Falana, human rights lawyer, says the current administration might be plotting a third term agenda.

According to PUNCH, Falana said this in Lagos while speaking at the presentation of a book entitled: “Testimony to Courage”, written in honour of Dapo Olorunyomi, Premium Times publisher.

The lawyer said the country had “gone to the dogs” and only the media could save it.

“The media must not be silenced. You may have a third term campaign soon,” he said.

“Very soon, they will destroy all possible opponents. And by the time they bring in the third term agenda, the media would have been gone. But we are not going to allow it. No dictatorship can defeat the Nigerian people.”

The senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN) expressed dismay at the way Ijeoma Ojukwu, a judge of a federal high court in Abuja, is handling the case of Omoyele Sowore, convener of #RevolutionNow Movement.

“Nobody has been given the kind of bail (condition) Sowore was given. All those who looted the treasury have never had their movement restricted. Sowore has been granted bail, but his movement has been restricted to Abuja. His family is in America,” he said.

“He does not live in Abuja. He has no house in Abuja. Yet, he has been asked to stay in Abuja. The trial may last for 10 years, but he cannot leave Abuja. It has never happened in Nigeria before.

“Sowore has been banned as a journalist from speaking. As a politician, he cannot address a rally until the case is determined. We don’t know how long it will last.”

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