PUBLIC schools were shut on Thursday, May 22, as teachers protested the abduction of more 200 schoolgirls in Chibok, Borno State on April 14 and the killing of more than 100 teachers by Boko Haram insurgents. The teachers went on a protest march in many state capitals. They were received by governors or their representatives. Using the platform of Nigeria Union of Teachers, which called out for protest, they sang “bring back the girls” and “stop killing teachers.”
During the protest in Bauchi, the NUT Bauchi State chapter disclosed that 173 teachers had been killed by Boko Haram insurgents in Borno and Yobe states. Danjuma Sale, chairman of the union said: “We demand that both the federal and respective state governments exhibit true concern for the families of the 173 teachers, 170 in Borno State and three in Yobe State, who lost their lives to barbaric, uncivilised and wicked act of terror by paying them adequate compensation to assist in soothing their misery.”
In Borno State, teachers marched in Maiduguri, the capital city demanding the release of the abducted girls. Bulama Abiso, local NUT chairman represented by Bako Lawal, his deputy, said insurance cover would encourage teachers to give their best. He said government should also consider extending the insurance cover to pupils in both primary and secondary schools. “This has become necessary, considering the vulnerable political environment in which we operate,’’ he said.
Abiso while lamenting the killing of more than 100 of his colleagues in Borno and Yobe states, urged the government to fast track the payment of death benefits to families of the teachers in Borno to reduce their hardship. “We are telling Boko Haram to release our girls. We want our girls back safely to reunite with their parents,’’ the chairman said.
Governor Kashim Shettima thanked the NUT for the rally and commiserated with the union on the death of their colleagues. He promised that the government would strive hard to pay their next of kin their benefits. He said the state government had paid individuals who lost their bread winners N250,000 each as token assistance in each suspected Boko Haram attack. Shettima said the money was not a compensation but support for the affected families.
Similar protests took place in various parts of the country including Lagos and Abuja. In Abuja, stern-looking security operatives prevented protesters from storming Aso Rock Villa. The Abuja protest match was led by Oby Ezekwezili, a former minister of education.
In a message to the protesters President Goodluck Jonathan urged them to henceforth direct their protest to the Boko Haram terrorists and not the government. The President also urged the protesters to learn from citizens of other countries who do not blame their governments for any terrorist act.
He, however, admitted that the administration was currently consulting with some stakeholders with a view to exploring what he called alternative methods of resolving the present crisis. The president’s message was delivered by Olajumoke Akinjide, minister of state, Federal Capital Territory.
A Girls’ Unforgettable Harrowing Experience
IT WAS a horrible experience of unimaginable proportion. On the evening of December 22, 2011, in her very presence, Deborah Peter as an 11-year-old was forced to look on as her father, a Christian pastor, was summarily shot three times in the chest by three members of Boko Hara sect, Islamist fundamentalist group. While her father lay on the floor of their home in Chibok, reeling in pains the men argued whether or not they should kill Caleb, her brother. Eventually, they killed Caleb too. The terrorists then made the 11-year-old girl lie between the two corpses and she remained there until the next morning, when a local pastor paid for her to get out of the region. The pastor himself was killed in 2013, also by Boko Haram sect.
Peter, now 15, told her story when she appeared before the media at the Capitol Hill, United States, just as the nation’s Congress was about to debate how to counter the radical group that kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls in Chibok in April 14. “I decided to tell the world my story when the Chibok girls were taken because everyone needs to know how horrible Boko Haram is,” Peter said holding a paper signed: #BringBackMySisters. “They kill innocent people who never hurt them. I want the world to understand what happened to me. I hope the kidnapped Chibok girls will take courage from my story, and know more of what God says, and know what it means to stand strong in the face of bad people,” she added.
After the media briefing, Peter then attended a House panel committee to discuss the growing threat of Boko Haram, along with Department of Defence and Secretary of State officials summoned as witnesses.
FRSC Suspends Enforcement of Procuring New Licence, Number Plates
THE Federal Road Safety Corps has suspended the deadline of June 30, for a change to the enhanced motor vehicle number plate and driver’s license. The suspension was in response to court judgements in Lagos and Abuja that the FRSC had no power to give deadline to enforce its new scheme. The corps however, noted that the courts did not vacate its powers to design and produce new number plates.
Similarly, the FRSC stated that the new directive was in line with decisions taken by the Joint Tax Board after its recent 129th meeting held on April 23 and 24, this year at the headquarters of Edo State Internal Revenue Services, in Benin.
Based on that decision, the corps has directed its commanding officers to start robust nationwide public awareness on the new initiative for motor vehicle administration in the country, emphasising on the benefits of the new scheme and the need for buy-in from all Nigerians.
It equally directed its commanding officers to explore all available platforms such as motor park rallies, advocacy visits and other forms of public engagement in keeping with its 2014 strategic goal of improved public communication and road use education.
The federal high court in Lagos had its verdict on April 26, 2014, affirmed that the statutory powers of the FRSC to design and produce the new number plates but only questioned its powers to fix deadline for enforcement of the new scheme, as confirmed by the recent directive from the JTB which has the statutory powers to fix prices and set deadlines for implementation of the new number plate and driver’s license. An Abuja federal high court on Thursday, May 22, ruled along the same line by declaring that the FRSC has no powers to invalidate a driver or vehicle license before the expiry date.
El-Rufai Institutes N1.5 Billion Libel Suit Against PDP, Metuh
NASIR El-Rufai, a former minister of Federal Capital Territory, FCT, has instituted a N1.5 billion libel suit against the Peoples Democratic Party, Olisa Metuh, its national publicity secretary, and a national newspaper before a high court in the FCT.
El-Rufai accused Metuh of authoring a defamatory statement, issued on behalf of the PDP, linking him and the All Progressives Congress, APC, to the Boko Haram insurgency. The former minister said in a separate publication, Metuh claimed that he (El-Rufai) collected N5billion as consultancy fee from Lamido Sanusi, suspended governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. El-Rufai said the national publicity secretary of the PDP made the claims in separate publications of the newspaper editions of March 17 and 23.
El-Ruafi, who is the current deputy national secretary of the APC, named the newspaper, as the third defendant in the suit. The former minister claimed that the publications occasioned irreparable injury against him and damaged his hard-earned reputation by “portraying him as a corrupt, money-laundering, reckless, lawless, greedy and unscrupulous public figure, who illegally collected N5billion as consultancy fees.”
He is specifically seeking an order awarding N1billion as general damages against Metuh and the PDP as well as the award of additional N500 million as general damages jointly and severally against all the three defendants, including the newspaper. El-Rufai is also seeking the award for “the injury, embarrassment and distress suffered in respect of the loss of reputation and goodwill as a result of the malicious, unwarranted and defamatory utterance against the person of the plaintiff.” The case has been adjourned until June 5 for mention before Justice Abubakar Talba.
— Jun. 2, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT