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Covid-19 Alliance, Crisis Merchants Escalated #EndSARS Protests to Chaos – Centre

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A special report by the Centre for Human Rights and Crisis Management (CHRCM) has blamed Femi Falana-led Alliance on Surviving COVID-19 and Beyond for the escalation of violence in the aftermath of the shooting at Lekki toll gate in Lagos State.

In the report signed by its special rapporteur, Dr Thomas Uzah, on Friday, the centre exonerated the Nigerian Army of any wrongdoing at Lekki or anywhere else in Nigeria.

The centre said it came to this conclusion 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.

Among others, the report said Falana mobilised social media influencers to project the government as insensitive to the demands of the youths; mustered logistics for street protest and rallied celebrities through his musician son, Folarin Falana (Falz) to discredit the government’s efforts towards reforming the Police.

The report noted that fake news in the form of press statements and social media trends were deployed by Falana and his group to ensure that the protests gathered momentum despite the government’s assurances.

As part of its recommendations, the centre, however, called on relevant authorities to identify those individuals and groups that incited the people into resorting to acts of violence.

It also suggested that 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.

Read full report below:

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.

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Bandits Lay Siege To Armed Forces Command And Staff College, Jaji

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Some criminals, suspected to be bandits, are currently laying siege around the premises of Armed Forces Command and Staff College (AFCSC) located in Jaji, Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State.

Their mission, according to some locals in the community who spoke to our correspondent during a telephone conversation, was to abduct some staff of the college and the communities around the area.

This is coming in less than two months after bandits stormed the Federal College of Forestry Mechanization, Afaka, Mando, also in Kaduna and kidnapped no fewer than 39 students.

AFCSC is a training facility for the Nigerian Armed Forces, including the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Air Force and Nigerian Navy.

A resident of the area, who simply identified himself as Adamu, told Daily Trust via telephone that the bandits have always surrounded the institution while terrorising the communities around the college.

“It is only Allah that has been saving us. They (bandits) have always rustled cows in our communities. Military operatives do engage them in gun battle anytime they come around, that is why we don’t have major casualties yet,” Adamu said.

The Commandant of the college, Air Marshal Olayinka Alade, confirmed this on Wednesday in Abuja when he visited the Army Headquarters to brief Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Attahiru Ibrahim, on the development and other issues in the institution.

Alade said the institution has decided to launch impromptu searching and clearance operations in some communities where the bandits are operating around the college having informed General Officer Commanding 1 Division.

“There are some communities around the school that have developed and because it is like part of the college, maybe they are hiding under that cover, so some bandits are there. Because of that, there is collaboration with other institution’s heads in the college. Constantly, we try to conduct an impromptu searching. We conduct search and patrol from time to time.

“What we discovered now is that, not too far ahead, some communities… it is like all these bandits have made all that place their aim, so I discussed with GOC 1 Div. From time to time, we need to carry out clearance operations,” the AFCSC Commandant said.

The Commandant further disclosed that the bandits rustled some cows behind the college on Tuesday, April 13 – a development that led to gun duel between them and the military operatives.

He, however, did not disclose whether there was any casualty, noting that he came to brief the COAS so as not to be surprised if he hears anything subsequently.

According to him, “In fact, yesterday (Tuesday), I was told that some bandits came to come and rustle some cows just behind us. There was an exercise that was carried out by the NACI. They actually encountered these bandits, they had to exchange fire during the exercise.

“Those are the things we’re trying to ensure that we are not surprised if they have come that close, then, we need to sit tight and ensure we clear that place.”

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Deputy Nigeria Ambassador to Jordan, Ibrahim Mohammed,(1st left) the Managing Director Ministry of Tourism and Antiquiies, Abed Al Razzaq Arabiyat, (middle) Executive Secretary NCPC, Yakubu Pam (right) during a courtesy visit paid to the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities in Jordan recently

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Coalition Warns Anti-Vaxxers, Urges Nigerians To Disregard Fake News Of COVID-19 Vaccine Side Effects

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The National Vanguard on Covid-19 Administration and Advocacy has urged Nigerians to treat reports of side effects from the AstraZeneca jab as fake news, noting that some elements are out to frustrate the ongoing vaccination exercise.

This follows the claim of blood vomit by a woman in Kaduna after allegedly being administered the vaccine.

While the state government has vowed to investigate the report, the National Vanguard on Covid-19 Administration and Advocacy said the assertion is the handiwork of anti-vaxxers.

In a statement signed by its Director of Public Enlightenment, Samson Abu, on Saturday, the group, though, admitted potential side effects from the jab, added that some persons are out to sow fear in the minds of Nigerians.

Abu, therefore, appealed to Nigerians to disregard all fake news pertaining to the safety, efficacy and effects of the COVID-19 vaccine.

According to him, the supposed victim is an isolated case yet to be proven by any expert.

The group, however, urged Nigerians to continue to take the vaccine for their good and the safety of their loved ones around them

Read the full statement below:

The National Vanguard on Covid-19 Administration and Advocacy is appalled by the deployment of fake news by anti-vaccine elements in Nigeria in their bid to scare and discourage people from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine that is meant to protect against the Corona Virus and save lives.

The fake news, published with the headline “Woman vomits blood after taking COVID-19 vaccine” is a disingenuous attempt at creating a deepfake given the effort that was made to create the impression that one Hannatu Tanko was rushed to Gwamna Awan General Hospital in Kaduna State because she started vomiting blood after receiving the vaccine.

Interestingly, the same script was published by several blogs and a few undiscerning news sites without the publishers carrying out the necessary checks and without speaking with experts on what could have led to the woman’s condition.

The fake news also created the impression that there is coercion in the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine whereas people are voluntarily accepting the jab owing to their knowledge of how it protects one from catching the deadly virus. Such a desperate act could have only resulted from people that are keen on seeing the pandemic decimate humanity.

With more than half a million so far vaccinated, even if the account of the woman experiencing reactions to the vaccine were correct, the case would be an isolated one and the fact that sources claimed the woman is recovering confirms that the vaccine is safe while any unintended effect would be at worst temporary. We, therefore, find it unacceptable that the isolated and unproven instance is now being used by purveyors of fake news and anti-Vaxxers to discourage Nigerians from taking the vaccine. This is a huge disservice and unacceptable.

For the avoidance of doubts, experts’ views are required to confirm that what a person experiences after taking the jab is related to the vaccine. To do this, the experts would have ruled out that the symptoms exhibited by such are not caused by other underlying factors that coincidentally flared up at about the same time the person took their vaccine.

The National Vanguard on Covid-19 Vaccine Administration and Advocacy consequently warn detractors and anti-vaxxers in Nigeria that they have a responsibility to society to desist from sowing fear in the mind of the people especially when it is apparent that the fake news they are spreading has all the potential to hurt more people than save them.

We appeal to Nigerians to disregard all fake news about the safety, efficacy and effects of the COVID-19 vaccine and only based their decision to accept the jab or not on sound science, which would make them appreciate the benefits it offers. Nigerians, who truly value their wellbeing as the coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage the world, should make it a personal responsibility to take the vaccine for their good and the safety of their loved ones around them.

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