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SERAP Sues Health Minister And NCDC Director Over ‘Failure To Account For Coronavirus Money’

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Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit against Dr Osagie Ehanire, Minister of Health and Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), over “their failure to account for the public funds and other resources so far spent and used to combat the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria.”

In the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/616/2020 filed last week at the Federal High Court, Abuja, SERAP is seeking: “an order for leave to apply for judicial review and an order of mandamus to direct and compel the Minister of Health and the NCDC to publish details of the funds and resources from federal and state governments, and the private sector, as well as details of how the funds and resources have so far been spent and used to combat COVID-19.”

SERAP is also seeking: “an order of mandamus to direct and compel the Federal Government to disclose information on the exact number of tests that have been carried out for high-ranking public officials and politicians, the number of any such high-ranking public officials and politicians now in self-isolation or quarantine, as well as the exact number of tests that have been carried out for the country’s poorest and most vulnerable people.”

SERAP is arguing that: “Transparency in the use of COVID-19 money would help to reduce the risk of corruption or opportunism, build trust and engage Nigerians in the fight against coronavirus as well as safe lives. Transparency and accountability are important to implementing an effective response to COVID-19 and slowing the spread of the virus in the country.”

According to SERAP: “Nigerians have the right to know the details of spending of COVID-19 money, as this is essential to the fight against corruption, and will foster the development of democratic institutions and the rule of law in Nigeria.”

The suit followed SERAP’s Freedom of Information (FoI) requests dated 27 March 2020 to the Minister of Health and the NCDC, expressing “concern that lack of transparency in the use of the funds and resources to combat COVID-19 would lead to diversion or mismanagement of funds and resources, unnecessarily cost lives, and result in serious damage to public health in the country.”

According to SERAP: “Millions of Nigerians continue to lack access to an improved water source and to proper sanitation, thereby making them vulnerable to COVID-19 and other illnesses. Yet, the Ministry of Health and the NCDC have failed and/or refused to disclose whether there is any collaborative work with the Ministry of Water Resources to provide vulnerable Nigerians with safe water, sanitation, and hygienic conditions.”

The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare, Atinuke Adejuyigbe, and Opeyemi Owolabi, read in part: “The information SERAP is seeking to access is permitted under the Freedom of Information Act 2011 and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to which Nigeria is a state party.”

“The Federal Government has a legal duty to ensure that information on the spending of COVID-19 money and resources is released to SERAP and widely published. It is not too much to ask for details of measures to protect health workers and procedures put in place to ensure that COVID-19 money is not diverted, mismanaged or stolen.”

“The Federal Government has no legally justifiable reason for refusing to provide SERAP with the information requested, and therefore, this court ought to grant SERAP the order directing and compelling the Federal Government to publish details of spending of COVID-19 money.”

“There are reports of lack of transparency in the use of the funds and resources being mobilised to combat coronavirus, and that authorities are prioritising home testing of politicians, with some reportedly taking multiple tests. Politicians engaging in multiple tests for coronavirus have in turn slowed the number of tests for the country’s poorest and most vulnerable people.”

“The suit is in the public interest, as it bothers on issues of national interest, public welfare and interest, social justice, good governance, transparency and accountability. Obedience to the rule of law particularly by those who publicly took oath of office to protect and preserve the constitution is a desideratum to good governance and respect for the rule of law.”

“Nigerians are entitled to know how the commonwealth is being utilized, managed and administered in a democratic setting, as this positively influences the feeling of belonging in the society. This right to know will no doubt help in promoting a transparent democracy, good governance and public accountability.”

SERAP is seeking the following reliefs:

AN ORDER granting leave to the Applicant to apply for judicial review and seek an order of mandamus directing and compelling the Respondents to provide and disclose the following information to the Applicant:
A. Details of exact funds and other resources allocated by the Nigerian authorities and private sector donations to the Respondents to improve Nigeria’s health facilities to combat the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria;

B. Details of spending and planned spending of any such funds, other resources and donations to combat the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria;

C. Details of efforts made by the Second Respondent to make NCDC’s website functional and accessible and to publish weekly spending on initiatives by the NCDC, including on NCDC’s website;

D. Details of processes and procedures put in place to ensure that the funds, other resources and donations allocated to combat COVID-19 are not diverted, mismanaged or stolen;

E. Details of measures to protect health workers and to encourage the country’s poorest and most vulnerable people to come forward for testing and to escalate testing for this group;

F. The exact number of tests that have been carried out for high-ranking public officials and politicians, the number of any such high-ranking public officials and politicians now in self-isolation or quarantine, as well as the exact number of tests that have been carried out for the country’s poorest and most vulnerable people

AND for such further order(s) this Honourable Court may deem fit to make in the circumstances.

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

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*Centre for Human Rights and Crisis Management*

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A special report by the Centre for Human Rights and Crisis Management on the immediate cause of the escalation of violence across the country in the aftermath of the Lekki Tollgate incident in Lagos State

Introduction: 

There has recently been an astronomical level of violence across the country, especially in Lagos state; from looting and destruction of public and private properties to social amenities and business concerns. 

This indeed necessitated the imposition of a 24-hour curfew by the Lagos state government in a bid to bring the conflict in the state to a halt. Consequently, the Centre for Human Rights and Crisis Management commissioned a special rapporteur to investigate the immediate cause of the escalation of violence in Lagos and other parts of the country.

The report looked extensively on the various conspiracy theories at play and indeed separated the facts from the falsehoods, as well as those individuals and groups whose actions and inactions were responsible for the escalation of violence.   

The issues:

The peaceful protest by the youths demanding for the reform of the Nigerian Police Force was ostensibly hijacked by some thugs and hoodlums that went on rampage looting, maiming and killing innocent persons going about their normal businesses.

The crisis was further escalated by the activities of fake news merchants that utilized the social media space in propagating fibs that eventually heated the polity to boiling point. 

It was also observed that the protest was hijacked from the moment the protesters refused to leave the streets even after the government had agreed to their five demands and initiated moves for dialogue, which was turned down and instead police formations and units became subject of attack, leading to deaths and injuries. 

It was also observed that some individuals and organizations were discreetly propelling the youths to remain on the streets in defiance of the peace overtures made by the government at the federal and state levels. 

Indeed groups such as The Alliance on Surviving COVID-19 and Beyond, led by Femi Falana (SAN) prominently heated the polity in several ways that include but not limited to; mobilizing social media influencers to project the government as insensitive to the demands of the youths; mobilizing logistics for street protest; mobilizing celebrities through his musician son, Folarin Falana (Falz) to discredit the efforts of government towards reforming the Nigerian Police Force as well as a host of other despicable acts that includes inciting press statements and communique.

The Facts: 

The Centre for Human Rights and Crisis Management after a detailed investigation and analysis of the chain of events that eventually led to the breakdown of law and order in Lagos and other parts of the country identified that proponents of fake news indeed had a field day in ensuring that the protests gathered momentum. 

The government of Nigeria as a matter of urgency and in response to the demands made by the youths directed the Inspector General of Police to disband the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and begin the process of evaluating the mental and psychological state of operatives of the disbanded outfit, and consequently the training and retraining of these operatives before redeployment to other police units and formations. 

The various state governments also instituted a judicial panel of inquiry to investigate cases of human rights violations by the Nigerian Police and the recommendation of appropriate sanctions to erring officers. 

The various law enforcement agents deployed to maintain law and order utilized minimal force and only in extreme cases of excessive looting of public and private concerns and arson that force was exerted to restore law and order. 

The Nigerian Army indeed rose to the occasion as the personnel deployed to various hotspots was able to restore law and order without the use of force as multiple pieces of evidence indicates that troops utilized persuasion skills rather than force as erroneously reported in the social media space and other traditional media news mediums.

The Lies: 

It remains incomprehensible how a segment of the population would elect to spread outright falsehood in the country to encourage crime and criminality at the detriment of peace and unity.

The Lekki TollGate incident was one of the means that was latched on to escalate violence in Lagos state and other parts of the country. The Centre for Human Rights and Crisis Management in its analysis of events indeed identified the ignoble role played by organizations such as The Alliance on Surviving COVID-19 and Beyond, led by Femi Falana. 

The organization indeed issued statements that were provoking and inciting, wherein it alleged that the government was not responding to the demands of the youths and that it was business as usual in the operations of the disbanded SARS unit. 

The Alliance on Surviving COVID-19 and Beyond did instigate the protesters through statements credited to it on the pages of newspapers and other news dissemination channels. It was also observed that the organization had formed a strategic alliance with Sahara Reporters to indiscriminately disseminate information that is inaccurate and to heat the polity and discredit the efforts of government towards the restoration of law and order in the country. 

The Alliance on Surviving COVID-19 also made several attempts at painting a picture of plans by the government through the Nigerian Army to kill protesters on the street, which indirectly charged the already tensed atmosphere. 

Conclusion: 

The Centre for Human Rights and Crisis Management as a result of this investigation concludes that indeed the immediate cause of the escalation of violence in Lagos state and other parts of the country were are a result of incitements by individuals and organizations. The Alliance on Surviving COVID-19 and Beyond, as led by Femi Falana was notorious in this regard with the multiple press statements and releases that were either mischievously or intentionally placed in the media in a manner that suggests ulterior motives. 

It must also be noted that the government lost the narrative when it failed to realize that the peaceful protest was being hijacked by some forces when mobs began to target police units and formations, as well as policemen and women on duty.

Recommendations: 

The Centre for Human Rights and Crisis Management as a result of the findings in this report makes the following recommendations: 

• That the government must identify those individuals and groups that incited the people into resorting to acts of violence

• That the Femi Falana led Alliance on Surviving COVID-19 and Beyond should be held liable for the escalation of violence in the country and for leading an uprising against the country and plunging the nation into a crisis of unimaginable proportion.

• That Femi Falana should appear before an investigative panel of inquiry to give an account of the activities of the Alliance on Surviving COVID-19 and Beyond 

. That the government should trace the transactions of the Alliance on Surviving COVID-19 and Beyond in the past one month towards ascertaining the level of complicity in the funding of the street protests across the country. 

• That the security agencies must begin the process of mopping up small and light weapons in circulation in parts of the country.

Signed: 
Dr Thomas Uzah, 
Special Rapporteur.

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Army Degrade Bandits, Records Success

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9 suspected bandit collaborators arrested at Sabon Garin Dan Ali General area in Danmusa LGA of Katsina State on 24 September 2020

The Nigeria Army has revealed that the Northwest region is beginning to witness stability and normalcy leading to massive resumption of farming and socioeconomic activities in the zone.

This is in line with the Army’s mandate to completely rid the North West zone of the country of armed bandits, cattle rustlers, kidnappers and incessant killings of innocent citizens.

AHMADU RUFAI SUSPECTED  BANDIT LOGISTICS SUPPLIER ARRESTED BY TROOOS ON 27 SEPTEMBER 2020.

AHMADU RUFAI SUSPECTED BANDIT LOGISTICS SUPPLIER ARRESTED BY TROOOS ON 27 SEPTEMBER 2020.


According to Ag Director Defence Media Operations, Brigadier General Benard Onyeuko, the gallant troops of Operation SAHEL SANITY have intensified operational activities in the theatre of operation during the period under review which has led to the degradation of the bandits and their activities to the barest minimum as indicative by the successes recorded.

” These gains are gradually bringing stability and normalcy back to the zone as evident by the massive resumption of farming and socio-economic activities”.

4 SUSPECTED BANDITS COLLABORATORS ARRESTED AT TUDU VILLAGE IN KANKARA LGA OF KATSINA STATE ON 4 OCTOBER 2020.

4 SUSPECTED BANDITS COLLABORATORS ARRESTED AT TUDU VILLAGE IN KANKARA LGA OF KATSINA STATE ON 4 OCTOBER 2020.


He said it is important to note that the tremendous successes achieved since the commencement of the operation could not have been possible without the sacrifice, commitment and gallantry exhibited by the professionally and responsive soldiers of the Nigerian Army some of whom have paid the supreme price in the course of their professional calling.

Onyeuko stated that gallant troops of Operation SAHEL SANITY within this period carried out series of clearance operations, ambushes, day and night patrols denying bandits and other criminal elements any respite.

 SUSPECTED BANDITS LOGISTICS SUPPLIER LAWAL SALISU ARRESTED AT DAN ALI VILLAGE ON 15 OCTOBER 20


SUSPECTED BANDITS LOGISTICS SUPPLIER LAWAL SALISU ARRESTED AT DAN ALI VILLAGE ON 15 OCTOBER 20


Also numerous farm and highway patrols were carried out within Sokoto, Katsina, Kaduna, Kebbi and Zamfara States thus boosting the confidence of the locals as well as commuters in carrying out their daily activities without hindrance.

These operations, he said have most importantly led to the rescue of kidnapped victims, neutralization of bandits, arrest of several bandits informants and collaborators, recovery and return of rustled cattle to their bona-fide owners.

SUSPECTED RUSTLED CATTLE MARKETERS ARRESTED AT DANDUME ON 18 OCTOBER 20

SUSPECTED RUSTLED CATTLE MARKETERS ARRESTED AT DANDUME ON 18 OCTOBER 20


Furthermore, “there were recoveries of large cache of arms and ammunitions as well as other dangerous weapons. Similarly, numerous captured bandits motorcycles and Bandits hideouts were destroyed by the gallant troops. Equally, a number of bandits logistics network have been smashed leading to the arrest of some of the syndicate members within the period”, he added.

That so far, in all the operations conducted between 4 September -25 October 2020, 38 armed bandits were neutralized while 93 suspected bandits logistics suppliers and collaborators were arrested. Relatedly, 30 Dane guns, 941 rounds of 7.62 mm Special ammunition and 5 live cartridges were captured during various encounters with troops.

SUSPECTED BANDITS COLLABORATOR AMINU WADA ARRESTED AT DAN ALI VILLAGE ON 16 OCTOBER 20

SUSPECTED BANDITS COLLABORATOR AMINU WADA ARRESTED AT DAN ALI VILLAGE ON 16 OCTOBER 20


Also, a total of 131 cows, 154 sheep/rams and 1 camel were recovered. In all the search and rescue operations carried out, 108 kidnapped victims were rescued, 90 bandits informants and collaborators, 3 rustled cattle marketers and 12 bandits logistics suppliers were arrested. Also, a total of 10 bandit’s camps and their logistics bases were destroyed by troops of Operation SAHEL SANITY. Relatedly 47 bandits attacks and 31 kidnap incidents were foiled by the troops.

He stressed that the gallant troops of Operation SAHEL SANITY have continued to dominate all the hitherto volatile areas with confidence building patrols, ambushes and clearance operations to deny the bandits and other criminal elements freedom of action.

SUSPECTED BANDITS INFORMANT ISHAU SAMAILA ARRESTED AT DAN ALI VILLAGE ON 16 OCTOBER 20

SUSPECTED BANDITS INFORMANT ISHAU SAMAILA ARRESTED AT DAN ALI VILLAGE ON 16 OCTOBER 20


“Consequently, the troops are hereby commended for their gallantry, sacrifices and successes achieved so far. They are also urged not to rest on their oars but build on the achievements recorded so far.

The people of the North West zone are also appreciated for their continued cooperation in providing credible information for the success of the operation.

They are also encouraged to continue to avail the troops with actionable information that would aid the desired goal of the operation. They are further reassured of the Nigerian Army’s commitment to restore total peace in the zone and indeed the entire country”.

 SUSPECTED BANDITS COLLABORATOR SHUAIBU ILIYA ARRESTED BY TROOPS AT BAKAN VILLAGE ON 18 OCTOBER 20


SUSPECTED BANDITS COLLABORATOR SHUAIBU ILIYA ARRESTED BY TROOPS AT BAKAN VILLAGE ON 18 OCTOBER 20


The Nigeria Army also thank the press family both within and beyond the zone, “your patriotic and professional zeal towards this noble course is highly commendable and appreciated. We wish to further extend our hands of partnarship to make our great country a better and safer environment”.

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*Centre’s preliminary report indicts Nigerian celebrities in #EndSARs murders, arson* 

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…hails conduct of Nigerian Army  throughout mayhem

Several Nigerian celebrities have been found culpable for the killings and arson that accompanied the EndSARS protests across the country. 

The Centre for Social Justice, Equity and Transparency (CESJET), in its preliminary report on the mass action revealed that these individuals triggered the corresponding violence, looting and near anarchy that followed by peddling fake news. 

Some of the celebrities include DJ Switch, Falz, Ifeoma McDermott, Genevive Nnaji, Deji Adeyanju, Aisha Yesufu. Peter/Paul Okoye, Davido, Wizkid, Burna Boy, among others. 

CESJET made this revelation at a press conference on Monday in Abuja.

Unveiling the report, Executive Secretary, Comrade Isaac Ikpa said these “jaded” celebrities leveraged on the protests to chase clout and reinvent their brand. 

He also hailed the Nigerian Army for exhibiting its usual professionalism amidst conspiracy from these celebrities and their allies. 

The centre, however, urged the Nigerian government to petition these individuals at the International Criminal Court (ICC) starting with DJ Switch for so many avoidable death of innocent Nigerians and law enforcement personnel. 

On its part, CESJET vowed to submit petitions at the Lagos Investigative Panel s well as at the ICC.

Read the  full statement below:

It has become imperative that we brief you here today so that we can express our view on the state of the nation. For the entirety of October 2020 our dear country, Nigeria has been in the grip of a vicious enemy. 

The enemy we speak about is not the #EndSARS protests or the protesters, who are themselves, victims, even though they are led to erroneously believe they are in charge or that they call the shots in some sort of way. In reality, they have proven to possess lesser will than puppets and marionettes, the fall even below the level of pawns in the proper reckoning.  

The enemy is the fake news that has been deployed against Nigeria as a veritable weapon of mass destruction, which the original #EndSARS protesters, as a result of their naivety allowed to almost prevail. 

Amid the ongoing carnage in several cities of the country, we seem to have forgotten that although justified by long-running tradition brutality and human rights abuse by the Nigeria Police Force, the #EndSARS protests were triggered by a lie. A video circulated which was used as a basis to say that operatives of the defunct SARS summarily executed a young man and fled with his Toyota Venza car. It turned out that the young man did not die as a good Samaritan took him to the hospital for treatment; he was not shot as well but rather fell out of the car in a bid to get away from the brutal policemen. The point here is that there were people that were on the lookout for just that kind of incident as a trigger for what we are witnessing today. So, in practical terms, the #EndSARS protests are all based on a lie.

In the few days for which the protests were peaceful, there were a series of contents posted on social media and online, which later turned out to be false. These included lies that there was a harsh clampdown on protesters when in reality there was nothing of such.

Later on, the protesters began publishing the fake news that the Federal Government has sent thugs to infiltrate their ranks or to disrupt the protests. Although these were initially false, the fake news nonetheless became an invitation to thugs and hoodlums to join the protests thinking that government will pay them along the lines suggested by #EndSARS protesters.

The use of fake news by the #EndSARS protesters was matched only by their reckless and irresponsible acts of obstructing major routes too disrupt other Nigerians and make them uncomfortable. Fueled with pizza and takeaways provided with blood money they began taunting not just the government but also other Nigerians upon whom they have inflicted the maximum hardship. 

The irresponsible behaviour and the use of fake news got to the climax at Lekki Toll Gate on Tuesday, October 20, 2020, as they attributed a pandemonium that broke out among them to shooting by military men. They trended pictures from movie productions and claimed those were victims from the shooting. Fake news. The shared gory pictures and videos that had no connection with Lekki and claimed they depicted people killed by soldiers. They claimed 78 protesters were killed yet almost about all of them miraculously resurrected by the time it was daybreak, including, actress, Eniola Badmus coming out refute reports of her demise.

From the independent accounts that have continued to emerge from the Lekki incident, it is apparent that the Nigerian Army is not complicit in what the protesters and their fake news promoters accuse them of. 

One DJ Switch happened to Livestream the entire shooting, but her phone battery managed to die out before she could properly finish counting the 78 bodies. What a coincidence? She later ranted about how she with other protesters were throwing corpses at the foot of the soldiers while also picking up expended bullet shells that have all disappeared the following day. Someone needs to check what has happened to DJ Switch’s medication. 

The Lekki Lies was made possible not just by DJ Switch alone but by the active collaboration of clout chasers and jaded celebrities who were eager to reinvent their brands. Nigerians must call them out because they share in the blame for the destructions that were carried out by people who thought there was a massacre. We appeal to Nigerians to reach these celebrities through their social media handles that they used to spread fake news about a phantom massacre of protesters. 

Let us know them so that we can exact a price from them. DJ Switch. Falz. Femi Falana. Ifeoma McDermott. Genevive Nnaji. Deji Adeyanju. Aisha Yesufu. Peter/Paul PSqaure. Mr Macaronni (Debo Adebayo). David. Burna Boy. Kanu Nwankwo (Papillo). Odion Ighalo. Beyonce. Rhianna.  Anthony Joshua. Aisha Sesay. Gideon Okeke. Chinedu Ikedezie (Pawpaw). Dakore Akande. Tiwa Savage. Fireboy. Whizzkid. Estelle. Rema. Uzo Aduba. IK Osakioduwa. EiE. Amnesty International.

We hope they are all happy for turning Nigerian cities into the burning pile. We hope they can still make it big in the cities whose economies they have destroyed and set back by decades. 

CESJET demands that the Nigerian state the International Criminal Court (ICC) hold these celebrities starting with DJ Switch responsible for so many avoidable death of innocent Nigerians and law enforcement personnel because of their fake news drove protests. CESJET shall consequently submit petitions against these individuals at the Lagos Investigative Panel while also petitioning them at the ICC. All these celebrities and clout chasers are guilty of war crimes and punishable under the ICC convention.

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