UNHCR on Forced Return of Refugees

THE United Nations High Commission for Refugees, UNHCR, has warned against forcibly returning people to North-Eastern Nigeria, where the escalating violence could put their lives in jeopardy. The refugee agency reports said some 10,000 Nigerians had fled into neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Niger in recent months, and that more than 8,000 of them had sought refuge in Cameroon.

Dan McNorton, spokesman of the UNHCR, said the agency was alarmed at reports that local officials attempted to forcibly return 111 people from Cameroon to Nigeria on October 5. “They were expelled from a village in the Far North region of Cameroon, to Adamawa state in Nigeria. During this incident, 15 people were killed and another seven wounded. The remaining 89 individuals immediately fled back to Cameroon and were detained. The UNHCR is working closely with the government of Cameroon to assess whether there are people in this group in need of international protection,” McNorton said.

The UNHCR said the violence had led to displacement of about 5,000 people within the North-Eastern region of Nigeria, but admitted that the number actually could be significantly higher. McNorton said it was difficult to know the extent of displacement because the present dangers had prevented his and other humanitarian agencies from accessing that area. “I think there are a number of factors, which, of course, are interlinked in this region. We, and today with this return advisory, are underlying the importance of bordering countries, but also all states to ensure that their borders are kept open, and those fleeing conflict are given the safety and security that they need,” he said.

Five months ago, President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states after a surge of deadly attacks by Boko Haram, an Islamic fundamental group. Since then, Nigerian troops have engaged the group in armed conflict.

PDP Hails Jonathan, National Assembly over Oduahgate


THE ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, on Tuesday, October 29,  threw its weight behind President Goodluck Jonathan and the National Assembly for setting up separate panels to investigate the purchase of two bullet proof cars for N255 million by Stella Oduah, aviation minister. In a statement by Olisa Metuh, national publicity secretary, the PDP said the accusation against the minister was of major concern to it and commended the president and National Assembly for stepping forward to investigate Oduah.

The party also said at no time had it supported or condoned any form of corruption. It explained that the two committees set up to probe the car purchases were indicative of the party’s practical example of zero tolerance for corrupt practices. The statement said in part: “It is common knowledge that at one time or the other, some members of the top leadership of our party or their relatives faced charges of corruption and never was the law restrained from taking its full course. To us as a party, the accusation of corruption in the aviation ministry is a big worry.

“It is for this reason that the president and leader of our party set up a panel to investigate the matter, while the National Assembly which we also lead has stepped in. The position of our great party on corruption is unambiguous and our zero tolerance for corrupt practices abounds in practical examples because our founding fathers placed utmost premium on a transparent and accountable government as a fulcrum for achieving a Nigeria of our dream. Our successive leaders since 1999 have resolutely stuck to this… We, however, wish to assure Nigerians that whoever is found culpable shall reap in full, the bitter consequences of corruption and disservice to our dear nation.”

Jonathan Presents 2014 Budget November 12


PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan is to present the 2014 appropriation bill to a joint session of the National Assembly on Tuesday, November 12. This was contained in separate letters Jonathan sent to the two chambers of parliament and read at plenary on Tuesday, October 29. The letters written to the Senate and House of Representatives dated October 23, 2013 read in part: “I write to crave your kind indulgence to grant me the slot of 12.00 noon on Tuesday, November 12, 2013 to enable me formally address a Joint Session of the National Assembly on the 2014 Budget. While thanking the Honourable Members of the House of Representatives (and Senate) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for the constancy of their support, please accept the assurances of my highest consideration.”

The presentation of the new budget would be coming about a month later than last year’s when the president laid the 2013 budget estimates before the parliament on October 10, 2012. Jonathan had on September 17, submitted the 2014-2016 Medium Term and Expenditure Framework, MTEF, and Fiscal Strategy Policy, FSP, containing a N4.495 trillion budget proposal for 2014. The proposal, according to MTEF and FSP, would be predicated on $74 oil benchmark.

Lagos Markets Close for Tinubu’s Daughter


ALL major markets in Lagos metropolis were closed on Tuesday, October 29, to allow traders attend the coronation ceremony of Folashade Tinubu-Ojo, daughter of Bola Tinubu, former governor of Lagos State, as the new Iyaloja-general of Nigeria. The former holder of the title was Abibatu Mogaji, mother of Tinubu, who died on Saturday, June 15, this year, at the age of 96 years.

With the closure there was absence of the usual influx of customers at major markets in Lagos. Instead, some of the traders were seen standing in front of their locked shops or in groups discussing, while some customers who had visited some of these markets left with their hopes shattered when they were informed of the closure.

According to the government, the coronation ceremony was also part of the activities to commemorate the 70th birthday of Riliwan Akiolu, the oba of Lagos. At the installation proper, Akiolu advised the new Iyaloja or head of markets, to be diligent and committed to the service of humanity. He said the position was important to the development of market activities in Lagos State and Nigeria at large.

Oluremi Tinubu, a senator and wife of the former governor, said in an interview that the new Iyaloja was capable of coordinating market activities in Lagos State because she had learned under the tutelage of Mogaji, her predecessor. “The position of Iyaloja comes with lots of duties and responsibilities. It is expected that she will succeed with her sense of maturity, respect for elders and diligence,” the former first lady said.

— Nov. 11, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT

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