A Judicial Commission Is It


CONTROVERSY has continued to dog the killing of more than 50 police officers and officials of the Department of State Security Service officials at Eggon, Nassarawa State, on May 7. Christ Mamman, national president of the Eggon Cultural and Development Association, ECDA, the umbrella body of all Eggon people in the state, has insisted that worshippers of Ombatse, a deity of the land, had nothing to do with the alleged killing. Speaking on a radio programme on Friday, Mamman called on the federal government to institute a judicial commission of inquiry to solve the mystery.

“Ombatse is not responsible for the crisis or killing in Alakyo village. Let me clarify this issue because this is great injustice and conspiracy against the Eggon nation and for one to say it was the Ombatse that carried out the killing of the policemen in Nasarawa State,” he said. While commiserating with the families of those who lost their lives at the May 7, incident, Mamman argued that only a judicial commission could unearth the truth on the matter.

He also queried the rationale behind the decision of both the police and the state government in sending a large contingent of security men to arrest the 76-year-old chief priest of Ombatse, which resulted in the killing at Alakyo, in Lafia, the state capital. Addressing newsmen, on Tuesday, May 14, at the palace of the traditional ruler of Eggon (Aren of Eggon), Mamman further expressed concern over the growing state of uncertainty and tension arising from the unfortunate incident on May 7.

“While we condemn the killing, we equally condemn the sending of such large number of security personnel on an operation that could have been handled by a few personnel without loss of lives. We roundly condemn the incident that led to the mindless destruction of lives at Alakyo in this age when there are better opportunities and institutions for crisis resolution,” he said.

According to Mamman, Ombatse is a spiritual movement that upholds basic tenets like other religions such as Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and many others. “Ombatse… preaches peace, against violence and immorality. You cannot go and commit adultery with your neighbour’s or brother’s wife. You cannot engage in witchcraft, secret society or anything that involves human blood,” he said.  He, however, appealed to everyone to remain law-abiding and allow peace to reign even as the state government was said to have taken comprehensive and long-term measures to resolve the crisis.


MASSOB’s Order Sit-at-Home


COMMERCIAL activities and vehicular movements were disrupted for many hours, on Tuesday, May 14, in Onitsha, Anambra State, following a peaceful demonstration by more than 1000 members of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, as a prelude to their proposed June 8, sit-at-home order.

Arinze Igbani, administrator of MASSOB Onitsha Region 4, led the members to take over the commercial city around noon, while a similar exercise took place simultaneously in five other major local government areas in the state, including Idemili North, Idemili South, Onitsha North, Onitsha South and Ogbaru. Addressing newsmen at the General Post Office along the Old Market Road, Onitsha, Igbani, said the need to create awareness had become expedient in view of the lackadaisical attitude of the people. He warned that anyone who flouts the order would be seen as not being a true son of the Igbo race. He called on those who had fixed the date for wedding to postpone it and urged others such as traders, civil servants and institutions to use the day to honour fallen Igbo heroes and those massacred in the northern parts of the country by the Boko Haram sect.

“We are here today to spread the news that on June 8, 2013 all should be at home in memory of those six Igbo traders killed by the police at Apo village, Abuja. Also those killed by Boko Haram and those killed and dumped at Ezu river, Amansea, are being remembered. The sit-at–home is not to honour Uwazuruike but for those Igbo killed in various circumstances,” Igbani said.

The demonstrators had converged on Oba, Idemili South Local Government Area, as early as 8 am, from where they moved to Awada, Idemili North, Onitsha North and South and finally ended the sensitisation exercise at Ogboefere market in Ogbaru Local Government Area at about 2 pm.


Constitution Won’t Satisfy All


NIGERIANS may not be fully satisfied with the review of the 1999 Constitution as being amended by lawmakers. Aminu Tambuwal, speaker of the House of Representatives, dropped the hint at the opening of a three-day retreat in Abuja for the 51-member committee set up by the House to examine the recently collated views of Nigerians on the review of the constitution. Tambuwal said the review of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) might not meet the yearnings of most Nigerians, but was, however, optimistic about producing a good Constitution for the nation.

He thus, urged the committee members who are looking at the collated views of Nigerians at the peoples’ public sessions in the federal constituencies across the country, to ensure that the draft bills were free from their personal prejudices. “We cannot promise that after this exercise, all Nigerians will be fully satisfied with the result or that all agitation will stop,” he said, adding: “As you have all seen from the analysis of the public hearings conducted in the constituencies, there is not a single subject matter on which we have a 100 percent agreement.”

Nevertheless, he promised that the exercise would be transparent, fair and also reflect the true desires of Nigerians. “We can also promise that the Constitution we will finally present to Nigerians will be better than what we have presently,” Tambuwal said.

The Constitution review process in the House of Representatives started in September 2011, under an ad-hoc committee chaired by Emeka Ihedioha, deputy speaker. The committee held a groundbreaking retreat in May 2012 in Port Harcourt, to lay a firm foundation for its work. The retreat attracted presentations and submissions by intellectuals, civil society and political interest groups, professional associations and Labour, among others.

More Trouble for Amaechi


THE political crisis rocking Rivers State is taking a turn for the worse. Last Thursday, May 16, the police withdrew security aides of Otelemaba Dan Amachree, speaker of the House of Assembly, and Tony Okocha, chief of staff, COS, to Governor Chibuike Amaechi. The withdrawal followed the murder of Eric Ezenekwe, an aide to Godspower Ake, the court-deposed state chairman of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP. The police have commenced an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the murder.

Amachree said the gradual withdrawal of security personnel attached to government officials was aimed at making them susceptible to possible attacks from assailants. He alleged that there was a plan to release from detention, 18 notorious armed robbers and kidnap kingpins in custody to carry out the planned attacks on government officials and innocent residents of the state.

Amachree said: “Sequel to my letter to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR, Commander-in-Chief, Nigerian Armed Forces, of plans by some persons to unleash mayhem in the state, the Commissioner of Police, Rivers State, Mbu Joseph Mbu, has unceremoniously withdrawn the police orderly and escort attached to me.”

He said he had earlier warned about plans to withdraw security operatives from the governor and senior government officials in the state, including himself, thereby making them vulnerable to attacks by hoodlums. According to the speaker, government may soon withdraw other security aides to Amaechi. Those said to have been pencilled down to be withdrawn include the policemen, soldiers and men of the State Security Service, SSS, attached to the governor.

Amaechi, who is also chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, NGF, has been at loggerheads with President Goodluck Jonathan over 2015 political ambitions.


No New Salary, No Flight

Stella Oduah

IF their plan is allowed to succeed, air travelling will be paralysed across the country on Monday, May 20. Three aviation unions – Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, ATSSSAN, National Union of Air Transport Employees, NUATE, and the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers, NAAPE, on Thursday May 16, served a notice to shut down the Nigerian airspace beginning from Monday, May 20. The unions said their planned industrial action is to protest the failure of the Nigeria Airspace Management Agency, NAMA, to address issues on their new salary scale.

The threat had come ahead of the expiration of the 14-day ultimatum earlier given to NAMA on the vexed issue, which expires on Monday. The union, in a joint statement to the members, advised them to immediately embark on strike until all issues raised with the NAMA were resolved.

The union leaders noted the NAMA’s failure to invite them for dialogue since the ultimatum was issued and also raised concerns over the non-payment of 13-month arrears that have accrued on the new salary scale. The unions’ statement was signed by Olayinka Abioye of the ATSSSAN: Aba Ocheme representing NAAPE and Odinika Igbokwe of the NUATE.

The unions had, on May 6, written a letter to Nnamdi Udoh, managing director of NAMA, to immediately resolve all issues raised by the workers, and gave him a 14-day ultimatum, failing which, the unions promised to embark on an indefinite strike. The agency said it would implement the new condition of service, and attributed the delay to some critical omissions in the document approved by the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission.

— May 27, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT

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