Waiting for World Food Programme

By Odimegwu Onwumere

Findings made by the joint United Nations (UN) on speedy food security evaluation in the ravaged northern Nigerian states of Adamawa, Yobe and Borno by a radical Islamic sect known as Boko Haram, alarmed Nigerian Government and its people.

{Impoverished children} Photo culled from Internet
{Impoverished children} Photo culled from Internet

The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, harangued that some 650,000 people were displaced in Adamawa, Yobe and Borno, where attacks by Boko Haram happened regularly.

Many families fled for their lives into Cameroon. Sometime in 2014, the World Food Programme (WFP) and its humanitarian partners in Cameroon planned for a maneuver to help as many as 50,000 before the year passed.

While some Nigerians who were affected by Boko Haram fled into Cameroon and Chad, humanitarian organizations in Cameroon also dealt with noteworthy refugee tragedy in the East. Conflict in the Central African Republic drove 107,000 people into Cameroon’s eastern regions.

Worried by this situation, the Special Operation (SO) was established. The aim was to guarantee humanitarian entrance to north-east Nigeria through the stipulation of protected and dependable air transport services.

There was the provision of evacuating charitable staff when necessary. The security situation worsened and hundreds of thousands of people were displaced and the crisis escalated to neighbouring countries and caused tremendous humanitarian uprising.

The UN agencies and other humanitarian organizations geared up to assist displaced people in the affected areas irrespective of a UN report characterized by “road insecurity and long waiting at checkpoints that are often subject to insurgent attacks”.

The UN Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator demanded the Word Food Programme (WFP) to institute its United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) in Nigeria with getaways to poles-apart locations in the northeast so that access to mission realization sites would be realized and make-easy humanitarian reaction to the recounting crisis.

The entreaty was a follow up to the WFP Aviation groundwork needs, appraisal undertaking, in July 2014 and another WFP Scoping mission to Nigeria in February 2015. The programme was in coordination with UNDSS, UN bureaus and other arrowheads to classify the air transportation fissure.

“With a budgeted cost of US$ 3,574,602, SO 200834 will be managed by the WFP West Africa Regional Bureau from 1 May to 31 October 2015 with one fixed wing aircraft.

“Under the project, the current UNHAS link between Dakar and Accra will also be extended to Abuja periodically to ensure a complete regional network and connect humanitarian activities in Nigeria to those elsewhere in the sub-region,” said a source that claimed anonymity.

Waiting For UN

Amina Adamu, 14, was no longer thinking about the parents whom she said were killed by Boko Haram insurgents in Maiduguri, Borno State. She was not thinking about her clothes she could not bring, her books, property and sundry when her village was attacked, she was thinking of how to feed.

Like many of her ilk numbering 2.2 million in the entire school compound that has not seen running water, electricity, moan has become their accomplice; they’re now called internally displaced people (IDP).

By 11 Feb 2015, they left their homes from areas that remained out-of-the-way and seriously affected by the Boko Haram aggression. They were desolate, with many like them called “Nigeria’s refugees in Chad” by the United Nations (UN).

These people were not lazy. They had their farms and could grow foods. The “Nigeria’s refugees in Chad” had been at the Yokoua displaced people’s site, since their Lake Chad island village was attacked by Boko Haram in June 2015.

While Adamu and others remained in the school compound, many others were with the host communities and their complaints were hunger. They had little or no support. Those with children lived from hand to mouth with their children out of school and dying of hunger.

The United Nations (UN) said that in the northern Nigeria, 130, 000 students were in primary and secondary school from nearly half a million the number was.

Hope For Food

“As areas become more accessible and we collectively develop a more refined understanding of what people need, WFP is working with the Government and other agencies such as UNICEF to urgently reach the most vulnerable,” said WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin.

“We are working in a highly complex environment. It is a race against time as the lean and rainy season is upon us. We know that unless we act fast, and we act now, hunger will only deepen in the months to come,” she added at the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul.

Adamu was cheerful that she could see food and eat at last when the World Food Programme (WFP) started distribution of food. A 16-year-old girl was given entrée to a cash support of $84 per month for six months to buy food and other crucial.

The WFP began to provide assistance to this new wave of Nigerian refugees since June, 2014 and reached nearly 7,500 in a first round of food distributions.

“With diminished harvests caused by the devastating effects of drought and halted crop production in most farming districts, food supplies are terribly low. We face various constraints as we make provision for our dwindling food reserves,” said the Governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima.

On March 7 2015, while working with the Nigerian Government and its partners, WFP initiated mobile-phone platform cash backing more than 4,000 dislodged people in Maiduguri.

“We are now working at full capacity to address the immensity of needs and hope our collaborations with WFP and other partners will ensure an end to the severe food insecurity at hand.

“In addition to the mobilization of consolidated financial support to address current requirements, there is also a dire need for sustained development strategies in order to adequately end needs,” Shettima said.

Hope was given to about 70, 000 people whom the WFP said would receive the life-saving support. But apart from Nigeria, the UN lamented that some 80,000 Chadians were displaced from their islands.

In Lake Chad Region Of Chad

“At 13 percent, the prevalence of malnutrition in the Lake Chad region of Chad has exceeded World Health Organization emergency levels – a marked deterioration since 2012,” a UN report said.

Characterizing the Boko Haram quagmire as the worst ever seen in Africa where people were displaced in torrents, the WFP distributed food and nutritious support to 5,000 people in the Lake Chad region of Chad.

“With the Nigerian Government and other partners, WFP is doing all it can to gather data so there is a better understanding of needs. We are expanding coverage of mobile-phone based surveys to 6,000 households, and are analyzing satellite imagery so we can understand better how families are coping and can prioritize areas to receive assistance without delay,” Cousin said.

The international body said that increased fighting and insecurity in northeast Nigeria and the border region led to a gush of refugees and internally displaced people.

In Cameroon

In March 2016, on the out sketch of Mokolo town, a far North Region of Cameroon, near the border with Nigeria, WFP hosted many displaced persons with food distribution.

They were over 5,000 that took with them items like rice, oil and pulses. The WFP made sure that pregnant women and nursing mothers received porridge to thwart underfeeding.

They were also taught how to prepare nutritious food in cooking classes where WFP joined forces with UNHCR and UNICEF, and other agencies to make the objective a reality.

The WFP said that some 2.5 million people faced hunger in northeastern Nigeria. More than 800,000 people were desperately in need of food aid in Borno and Yobe states.

{Women eager for food} Photo culled from Internet
{Women eager for food}
Photo culled from Internet

And the body would give food or cash-based support to 431,000 people, including specific nutritious food to 64,000 children under the age of two at jeopardy of malnutrition in Borno and Yobe, being the States nastiest-affected by hostility.

This is the largest recent displacement crisis in Africa” – WFP

“In response to rising food insecurity, malnutrition concerns and continued displacement in the Lake Chad Basin, WFP aims to scale up its assistance from 600,000 people assisted last year to nearly 750,000 people.

“WFP needs urgent support to continue to provide food and nutritional assistance to displaced and vulnerable host communities alike.

“WFP needs USD 123 million until the end of the year to respond to growing needs in the Lake Chad Basin. To date, only 17 percent of the required funding has been secured,” said a WFP report of March 2016.

Odimegwu Onwumere is a Rivers State based poet, writer and consultant and winner, in the digital category, Nordica Media Merit Awards 2016. Tel: +2348057778358. Email: apoet_25@yahoo.com

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NIGERIA: Odimegwu Onwumere wins International Journalism and Media Awards 2016

Your unswerving Writer, Poet and Consultant, Odimegwu Onwumere has won the International Journalism and Media Awards 2016 in the “International Award for Excellence in Journalism” category in far away Geneva, Switzerland.

{Odimegwu Onwumere}
{Odimegwu Onwumere}

This is coming barely two months I won the Nordica Media Merit Awards 2016 in Lagos on April 9, 2016, in the Digital Category.

I’m in-seventh-heaven!

I saw the call for entries for the International Journalism and Media Awards 2016 in February this year and submitted some of my published articles on February 13, as was prescribed by the organisers of the journalism awards in Geneva, Switzerland.

After months, a letter sent by the organisers of the awards announcing the winners on June 22 2016, read, “Dear Journalists, Media Professionals and Experts, we are happy to bring to you the names of this year’s laureates. First of all, we congratulate you all those who have participated in these awards. The proposal for the new awards such as “International Award for Safety and Protection of Journalists” will be debated and decided at the end of this year. The congratulatory letters to them announcing the awards will be sent in the next days; the letter will give you information about the next steps.”

In the International Journalism and Media Awards 2016, there were eight categories: 1. International Award for Freedom of Expression; 2. International Award for Promoting Dialogue (Titus Brandsma Award); 3. International Photojournalism Award; 4International Award for Inter-religious Initiatives; 5. International Award for Women Issues; 6. International Award for Excellence in Journalism; 7. International Award for Solidarity with Refugees; 8. International Award for Excellence in Communication (Cardinal Foley Award).

In a congratulatory letter sent by Jean-Marie Scheerlinck on behalf of the Directing Committee, Geneva, 23 June 2016, read, Odimegwu Onwumere, Nigeria:

“Dear Odimegwu Onwumere, Congratulations! We are happy to announce that you have won International Award for Excellence in Journalism 2016. The award certificate will be sent to you in the next months… Once again, we congratulate you on your inspiring efforts and initiatives.”

I’m grateful!

My editors and publishers abroad and home, and my followers would attest to the fact that Yours Truly have been “Reporting for a better Environment” committed to urban and community life, which have spurred me into intensive creation of awareness to sensitizing the general public and pressurizing the government on the effect of bad policies to the environment and human rights as they relate to education, health, politics, human rights, child rights, environment etc.

Winning the International Journalism and Media Awards 2016 did not come to me as a surprise owing to years of dedication to writing that span over two decades and understanding the rules set by a Walter Lippmann, saying, “There can be no higher law in journalism than to tell the truth and to shame the devil.”

I’m so grateful that I’ve thus come this far in my chosen career as a writer. However, while journalists do not pray that there should be bad governments, but when such is inevitable, bad governance spur materials that exalt the works of journalists. There may not be journalists if the entire world is serene and in order.

I thank the organisers of the International Journalism and Media Awards 2016, my Chi, Chukwu Abiama Ndigbo for winning this award that recognised the hard work worth doing that I’m engaged in.

I would beseech fellow writers to join me in this banquet across the world. While I’m declared winner of the International Journalism and Media Awards 2016, Geneva, Swizerland, I want to say that any person of goodwill is also a winner.

Odimegwu Onwumere is a Rivers State-Nigeria based Poet, Writer and Consultant.

He has won in international and local journalism awards.

Email: apoet_25@yahoo.com

Division Among Arabs And Quest By West To Convert Arabs To A Settled Lifestyle

By Odimegwu Onwumere

Coping with religious pluralism and human diversity is the bane of the new world order.

In Tunisia, something unanticipated happened. Just like that, Tunisians woke up from sleep in February 2013 to witness the assassination of a well-known political opposition leader, Chokri Belaid, outside his home.

His death among other issues raised a red flag and shined light onto the post-revolution Arab world affecting all aspects of the Arab modernism.

Belaid’s death was also fingered not to be unconnected to the role he played in making sure that the undemocratic regime of Zine Abidine Ben Ali went down in January 2011. Some observers said that it was for Belaid’s contrary belief-system with reformists’ that led to his surprising murder.

Conflicts within

Ali had ruled Tunisia for nearly a quarter century. While that regime lasted, some of the religious leaders wanted a Tunisia where moderate Islam and religious pluralism would be practiced. This thinking to be inclusive, however, was to the chagrin of many.

There was a Tunisia where some Islamic groups used intimidation and violence to go after their Islamic aims and objectives. Others did not adopt aggression as a way to address their interests in the same Muslim country.

{President Obama}
{President Obama}

The worlds do certainly understand that some Islamic fundamentalists adopt a very narrow thinking dynamics in the context of Islamic cultural diversity. Arab societies clash within themselves in carving out decisions and roles women can play in politics and society.

Be it in educational policy or else, the status of non-Muslims and their roles is considerably appraised differently. There has always been turmoil in the Arab world when it comes to Islam’s place in politics, as indeed, the principles of Islamic religious faith always play a compelling role among the Arabs.

For example, the Egypt’s ruling Muslim Brotherhood has been always accused by other Muslims as being too far in committing to the ancient sharia-law. The National Interest of February 20 2013 gave an article captioned “Tunisia and the Clash within Civilizations”, in which Rajan Menon wrote that “The killing of an opposition leader highlights thunderous struggles within the Arab world. Thus the struggle over religion’s place in politics has divided, rather than united, Muslims in North Africa and the Middle East.”

Menon argues that the division tends to be portrayed as a quarrel between “secularists” and “Islamists.” Menon further adds that “This is a mistake, for the former camp includes observant Muslims who, nonetheless, want to keep their faith and politics apart”.

In like manner, Christians and Islamic sects, such as the Sufis, take their religion seriously but do not want it to define their political life, or for it to be defined by zealots claiming to be “true” Muslims.

Power and interest cause conflicts

What that meant was that power and interest continue to play an innermost function in the affairs of mankind, no matter the society involved. Empires, monarchical governments and peoples identifying themselves with nationalism and fascism were seen as fad in the 18th and 19 centuries in Europe and America respectively. However, later in France and expanded in the 20th century, the Russian Revolution was part of that ideology that has crossed the bridge of complex religiosity and governance.

The root cause of religious intolerance seemed to be driven with fundamentalist cultures and traditions to the centre, where sordid roles were played out.

The activities of the 21st century, one must note, are gulped in cultural divergences. Today, the world is not only experiencing a Clash Of Civilisations (COC), but also a systemic Clash Within Civilisations.

Take for instance, the Islamic communities exist in the European and Western communities yet the communities have not lived in a synchronized accepted ethical value with others. The argument is centred on the clash within civilizations – with the Christian west claiming superiority over the Muslim Arab world.

Clash within a civilization

Menon as we saw earlier observed that in Syria the clash within a civilization has assumed a deadly form. The civil war pits an Alawite-dominated state against insurgents, whose most pious members see Alawites not as fellow Muslims, but as apostates.

Basically, Bashar’s regime has been able to survive not only because it has more and better weapons than its foes but also because other Muslims (Sunnis urban professional, Kurds, and Druze) and Syria’s various Christian denominations have either stayed neutral or backed the government despite their misgivings for fear that its fall will lead to the rise of a doctrinaire Sunni regime. The armed opposition is, in the main, are the Sunnis who have roots in the rural areas. Many groups within it are animated by the goal of establishing an Islamic state given their fundamentalist approach to governance.

Political interest

Apparently, in the absence of peace, the communities intertwine with each other when interest is the middle focus in the area of politics. Still within each of the worlds, coherence is not full stop among the people. There are cases of fundamentalism with diverse groups on crusades for their particular world mission to accept an ideology, or eschew it.

Against that backdrop, the West is doing everything humanly and spiritually possible to convert the Arabs to a settled lifestyle though the Arabs had their aboriginality in nomadic tenets. America stood as a target in the fight for human rights and spreading of democracy. In consequence, the September 11, 2001 bombing of the World Trade Centre in the USA and the recurring Islamic terrorist attacks have become a global terror network and threat to safety and peace.

The very terrorist attack on USA signaled the beginning of what may be called ‘Hot War’ between the two camps. A quest to control not only the value-systems of the Arabs but also their foreign policies has compelled the West to wage a dangerous war against Iraq in 2003, which ended in 2011.

Misinformation within civilisations

The West misinformed the world into believing that Saddam Hussein, who was then the President of Iraq, was in possession of nuclear weapons, capable of consuming the world. There were also such wars in Afghanistan, Algeria, Chechnya, Bosnia, and a host of other Arab countries.

There was the Western sponsored revolution in Libya christened the “Arab Spring”. It saw to the ousting of Muammar Gaddafi (a maximum ruler of Libya for over four decades) and subsequently his death.

Western and European countries, namely the United Kingdom and the United States of America, have implanted in their citizens a consciousness that always make them see any Arab as an outlaw, a risk element.

The making of the Hot War

Students of political history knew that political scientist Samuel P. Huntington in a 1992 lecture at the American Enterprise Institute, saw war brewing in the post-Cold War world, but did not find the right title for it, except what he described as “The Clash of Civilizations (COC)”.

On the other hand, the Arabs as have been shown through highlighting of their ideology woven in Islamic creeds want to overcome and take over the West. The world has seen that after the death of Islamic faith founder, Mohammed in 632 A. D., the Islamic Jihadists had by 732 A. D., taken over Arabia, Syria, the Holy Land, North Africa, Spain, and the middle of France.

In the lecture mentioned earlier, Huntington forewarned the world that the belief-systems, cultural and traditional appellations of different races would be the elementary source of conflicts in the post-Cold War.

Clash of powers

While the world leaders continue to justify the carnage of the West in Iraq and other Arab worlds, the Arabs continue to send disbelieve of the war through gunshots and missiles the world is seeing and hearing today.

The Arabs continue to flaw the invasion of Iraq, saying that it infringed on their fundamental human rights to live, as a people and race. In juxtaposing that view point, it appears common sense reason would agree that from when Huntington formulated his “COC” theory and subsequently publishing a book on it in 1996, the West invariably was selling a wholesale mischief for a decade against the Arabs for the inglorious job it did in Iraq in 2003.

{Muammar Gaddafi}
{Muammar Gaddafi}

It is evident that the search for imperial ambitions by the West led to the Arab Spring Phenomenon or Uprising, being the clash of powers with al Qaeda terror group. The worst thing that is occurring is the subjugation of the so-called Third World not to veto opinions of the Big-5 countries at the United Nations (UN), namely China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. And these countries when invariably sidelined at the UN have grudges against the Big-5.

Conceptions and misconceptions

The “Hot War” can be seen as the propagation of the European and Western hegemony. It is so given their rapacious movements to enthrall the rest of the world. Such propagation of power and dominance of the Arab circle may be described and called neo-colonialism.

The “Hot War” notion is being brewed by the self-seeking interest of the West against the underpinned Arab worlds, including African and Asian regions. The irony is that the modern day egoistical interest groups have made the West and Arabs to forget that they share in the same conservative faith of Abrahamic civilisation. The modernisation is what has kept the two sides to always lock their horns in many unending conflicts.

{Saddam Hussein}
{Saddam Hussein}

The relationship between civilisation and violence is causing the world physical and mental injuries as well as social discrimination. All of this is occasioned by the incessant quest for economic, ideological and political power.

It is, however, sad to understand how the West has shown its oversight and then goes on to display civilisation as a pattern of supremacy of technological and political power blocks for order and disorder as the case may be.

Innovation

It has become imperative that the world policy makers must have a rethink in dishing out imagined falsehood, while in the pursuit of gluttonous policies on the scale of political reasons. The truth is that many policies in the world today have culminated into a directionless “Hot War”, unlike in the days when the Cold War was simply between Capitalism and Communism.

It is fearsome that the “Hot War” is not limited to religious differences between the Arab world and the western hemisphere. It is also powerfully evident in men and women, family and children around gender rights and power struggles for control.

There should be a clear cut meaning and application of control and choices in the definition between violence and civilisation in the 21st century.

Odimegwu Onwumere is a Rivers State based poet, writer and consultant and winner, in the digital category, Nordica Media Merit Awards 2016. Tel: +2348057778358. Email: apoet_25@yahoo.com

Togo not the first Maritime Security Summit in Africa as claimed by TheCable.ng

Contrary to a headline by TheCable.ng in its June 7 2016 edition that Togo would be holding the first Maritime Security Summit in Africa, Odimegwu Onwumere can report that there had been Maritime Security Summits in Africa before this time.

{AU Yaounde Summit June 2013}
{AU Yaounde Summit June 2013}

One June 7 2016, TheCable.ng, an online Nigerian news platform published an article with the title, “Togo to hold first Maritime Security Summit in Africa”.

 

Opening the first line, the TheCable.ng wrote, “The first summit on maritime security in Africa will hold in Lome, capital of Togo in October. The summit is to be hosted by the Togolese President, Faure Gnassingbe.”

 

It went further to quote the organisers of the summit, saying, “The summit on maritime security and development in Africa will take strong and encouraging decisions to restrict the scope of bandits operating with impunity in African waters and the indulgence of human trafficking through smugglers.”

 

TheCable.ng was misleading with its claim

The October 2016 anticipated Togolese maritime security summit will not be the first in Africa. The African Union Commission expert’s workshop to review and finalise the draft 2050 Africa’s Integrated Maritime Security and Strategy had held on Tuesday 20th December 2011, within the framework of “towards the 2050 Africa Integrated Maritime Strategy”.

 

Mr. Erastus Mwencha, Deputy Chairperson of the AU Commission as at the time, said, “The efforts, all undertaking to advance  shared  cross-cutting  maritime safety and security, are essential to efficiently and effectively  addressing some of the most important issues face in Africa, in the context of this inter-reliant  complex world. In our interconnected world, the human family can not enjoy security without development and cannot enjoy development without security.”

 

There was “The East African Maritime Security Summit” from 17th-19th February 2015 in Djibouti, Horn of Africa. The Hybrid Marine, a maritime news platform reported as at the time, saying, “The East African Maritime Security Summit – seeks to reassess the maritime security situation in the Gulf of Aden and the Bab al-Mandeb Strait.”

 

On March 14 2016, Major General Muham­madu Buhari departed Abuja, the Nigeria’s seat of power, for Malabo to hold talks with President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea on further measures to protect the people and resources of the Niger Delta and the Gulf of Guinea, especially in the ocean.

 

“The major outcome of the meeting will be the conclusion and signing of an agreement by both countries for the establish­ment of a combined mari­time policing and security patrol committee,” reported Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye of Daily Sun, Abuja.

 

The Hybrid Marine, further highlighted, “The East African Maritime Security Summit” hinged on utilising the 2009 Djibouti Code of Conduct “regarding ‘The Repression of Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships in the Western Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden’ as a framework, the conference will examine lessons learned over the past 5 years and develop strategies for future cooperation in broader areas of maritime security beyond piracy.”

 

See the first sets of Maritime Security Summits in Africa

There was the Yaoundé, Cameroon June 24-25, 2013-Summit of Heads of State and Government on Maritime Safety and Security in the Gulf of Guinea.

 

“Thirteen (13) other AU Member States responded present at this summit. Among these countries were Angola, Burundi, Cape-Verde, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Gambia (represented by their Vice President), Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Senegal and Sierra Leone (most of them were represented at Ministerial level),” according to a report by African Union (AU) 2013.

 

The source added, “Representatives from the ECOWAS, ECCAS and CGG were also present at this Summit. The United Nations sent representatives while observers flew in from Belgium, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Japan, Russia, Spain, United Kingdom, and the United States of America.”

 

There was the Lomé, the Togolese capital, extraordinary summit of African heads of state on maritime security and development in Africa devised from 2nd to the 7th November 2015. The Foreign Minister of Togo Robert Dussey told an International Peace Institute (IPI) audience, “We need right now the charter, the binding text, about the insecurity in African coasts. We hope during the summit, we will have this text, this charter, because we need this charter for our development.”

 

The 2015 maritime security summit tagged “extraordinary summit”, the leaders of the African states had during the 23rd Summit of the African Union held in Malabo in June 2014, adopted it.

 

IPI said that on July 25 2015, the African Union observed its first ‘Day of Seas and Oceans’ and kicked off the “Decade of African Seas.”

 

Téte António, Permanent Observer of the African Union to the United Nations, spoke about the cultural history of oceans in Africa, and why he feels “promotion of the sea” is a particularly important part of the agenda.

 

“I think it is really a turning point to discuss seas in Africa,” he said, noting that people used to see the sea, “as a dangerous place which swallowed so many Africans.”

 

A text with the title “People’s summit on maritime security and the protection of migrants in africa” published by Visions Solidaires, confirming the 2015 summit, reported, “The Togolese civil society invites all the organisations of the African civil society and migrant support organisations from all the other continents to join us in Togo from the 5th to the 7th November 2015 in order to put pressure on the African leaders so that the future African Union charter takes full account of the rescue and protection of migrants on all the seas and oceans of Africa.

 

“The people’s summit will bring together migrants, fishermen, and association and trade union activists and will be marked by active advocacy for greater consideration of migrant protection in the African Union charter for maritime security at the Conference for Heads of State.  A huge march in tribute to all the migrants who have lost their lives at sea will be organised on the 7th November to incite the African heads of state to react more energetically with regard to this subject.”

 

Further confirmation that the planned 2016 Maritime Security Summit on October 15 2016 will not be the first in Africa

 

A press statement made available on June 5, 2015 by African Press Organization (APO), stated, “From November 2nd-7th, 2015, the heads of State of the African Union will meet in Lomé to discuss cooperation on issues of maritime security as well as the maritime domain as a factor of economic development for the continent, which has 38 coastal countries.”

 

The Togolese Government, as at the time, through Prime Minister Arthème Kwesi Ahoomey-Zunu and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Robert Dussey, “reiterated its commitment to make this Summit a success and the starting point of a new reflection on the practical, legal, and financial means to make the African maritime domain a development tool.”

 

The statement further said that the conference also “marked the launch of the Summit website which will offer all the information around this major continental event which will bring together 54 African countries and their partners.”

 

Odimegwu Onwumere writes from Rivers State. Email: apoet_25@yahoo.com

Anti-Graft War: Buhari, Falana, Disrespecting Court – Constitution Protects Crime Suspects

A budding writer, and social critic, Odimegwu Onwumere, has taken on President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, and human rights lawyer Femi Falana, saying the president and the lawyer have been acting in breach of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, in the prosecution of the anti corruption war.

{Major Gen. Muhammadu Buhari}
{Major Gen. Muhammadu Buhari}

AT different fora, President Muhammadu Buhari and a prominent human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) said treasury looters and corrupt persons facing charges before the court do not deserve bail.

 

Falana made his statement as the keynote speaker on Thursday, March 31 2016, while delivering a paper titled “Rule of Law and Treatment of Politically-exposed Corruption Cases” delivered on his behalf by Mr. Wahab Shittu at the seminar on anti-corruption war summoned by the Department of Jurisprudence and International Law, University of Lagos.

 

He also made a case of the creation of special courts to enable Buhari end this war well before the 2019 elections.

 

In one of his presidential media chats, Buhari said government was not prepared to release from detention the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra and Director of the Europe Based Radio Biafra Mr. Nnamdi Kanu for alleged treason, and former National Security Adviser (NSA), Sambo Dasuki, a retired Army Colonel, who is facing corruption charges

{Femi Falana}
{Femi Falana}

The Punch of April 1, 2016, however captured Falana this way, “Since victims of grand corruption including armed robbery and kidnap suspects are not usually admitted to bail, those who are charged with looting the treasury should no longer be granted bail.”

 

Same day Daily Post, quoted Buhari as saying, “Dasuki, who is presently in the custody of the Department of State Services (DSS), has multiple cases in court, which he must diligently face and answer. Nnamdi Kanu has committed a serious offence and therefore government is not prepared to release him based on the numerous bail orders handed down by the different courts”.

 

It appears, government under Buhari, a former military dictator, has devised some incongruous means of frustrating the duo from enjoying bail orders.

 

Comments Spark Rebuttals

Emmanuel Onwubiko, Head, Human Rights Writers Association (HURIWA), Nigeria, intervened in one of his media chats, saying that those who said that corrupt persons in detention do not have a right for bail, were murderers of the position of the Constitution.

{Emmanuel Onwubiko}
{Emmanuel Onwubiko}

Hence, Onwubiko quoted the comments made by the Senior Advocates of Nigeria, saying the right of accused persons to counsel of their choice and the Duty of Lawyers to defend their clients without Fear or discrimination:

 

“They reiterate their belief that the harassment and intimidation of lawyers in any form in the course of their legitimate work in unlawful and counter-productive in a democratic society. Such actions are not only unlawful but antithetical to the rule of law.

 

“Nothing is further from the truth that once a lawyer undertakes the defense of an accused person particularly a professional colleague, then he must be in active support of the alleged crime or be working against the anti-corruption crusade.

 

“The Nigerian constitution, for good reason, presumes a person innocent until proven guilty before a court of competent jurisdiction following a fair hearing, with an opportunity to conduct his defense by a counsel of his choice.”

 

Provisions of the Constitution on the fundamental rights all citizens

Onwubiko irked by the comments against the detained pointed out what the constitutional provisions state on the fundamental rights all citizens must enjoy especially when faced with charges before the proficient courts of law.

 

Section 34 (1)(a) (b) of the 1999 Constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria as amended states thus: “34. (1) Every individual is entitled to respect for the dignity of his person, and accordingly;

 

(a) no person shall be subject to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment; (b) no person shall he held in slavery or servitude; and” section 35(1)(a)(b)(4)(b) of the same constitution still states:

 

“35. (1) Every person shall be entitled to his personal liberty and no person shall be deprived of such liberty save in the following cases and in accordance with a procedure permitted by law – (a) in execution of the sentence or order of a court in respect of a criminal offence of which he has been found guilty;

 

(b) by reason of his failure to comply with the order of a court or in order to secure the fulfillment of any obligation imposed upon him by law;”

 

“(4) (b) three months from the date of his arrest or detention in the case of a person who has been released on bail, he shall (without prejudice to any further proceedings that may be brought against him) be released either unconditionally or upon such conditions as are reasonably necessary to ensure that he appears for trial at a later date.”

 

Odimegwu Onwumere writes from Rivers State. Email: apoet_25@yahoo.com

Helping Assess Crisis In Lake Chad Basin

By Odimegwu Onwumere

Bloodshed in the northern states of Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Gombe, Taraba, and Bauchi terrified residents to abandon their homes for safety across the 36 states of the federation and across borders.

Since 2009, killings and destructions in the mentioned states by members of Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati Wal-Jihad, popularly known as Boko Haram (BH), have affected about fourteen million people.

{Nigeria in Crisis UN photo}
{Nigeria in Crisis UN photo}

Boko Haram is a sect that has been fighting naively hard to establish an Islamic State and also end western education in the north-east region of Nigeria. The group has been engaging Nigerian security forces in severe warfare.

Many efforts made by the presidency to end the insurgency proved abortive with the group causing untoward mayhems in the towns and villages across the north east of the country and by extension in other parts of northern Nigeria.

The conflict became chiefly forceful in 2014, with the government gasping for help. Within the Lake Chad Basin, there was estimation that 250,000 people were in-search-of protection in Niger, Cameroon, and Chad.

The internally displaced people (IDP) were on the increase with Cameroon unaided, recording more than 90,000 dislodged people. The Federal Government of Nigeria requested assistance from the international community, especially the United Nations (UN), to review the requirements related to peace building and crisis recuperation in the troubled north.

From Nigeria’s presidency, Professor Joy Uche Angela Ogwu, a former Foreign Minister of Nigeria (and has been the Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the United Nations in New York since 2008), waited tolerantly for August 12 2015 to come by for a United Nations Security Council meetings, to discuss the issue.

The meeting was offered in harmony with the 2008 Joint EU-UN-WB Declaration on crisis assessment and recovery planning, geared towards discussing strategies in tackling terrorism.

The presidency was worried that if nothing was done, the number of malnourished persons affected in the north-east would be on the increase with estimation by the UN that there were 223,000 relentlessly malnourished children that could die if urgent measures were not applied.

UN Envoys To Nigeria

When the UN Special Envoy to Nigeria, Leila Zerrougui representing the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Children and Armed Conflicts, visited Nigeria, she found out that humanitarian crisis Boko Haram had brewed in northern Nigeria was intensifying.

The international body guesstimated that the number of internally displaced persons (IDP) was between two and three million. International Alert, a peace-building group, and the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) in different fora, accounted that those captured (especially women and children by the sect) and later freed by the efforts of security agents, were often rejected by their towns and villages, with the fear that they had been radicalized and might recruit others.

Zerrougui said that she witnessed people’s shock and disbelief at the devastation suffered by their communities, and saw trauma in children’s eyes. She further expressed that the scale of the suffering was way beyond what she anticipated to find; the people she met demanded and deserved urgent protection.

The UN envoy in addition uncovered that over 900,000 people, many of them women and children had fled their homes in the North-east; over 300 schools had been rigorously destroyed, and hundreds of children killed, injured or abducted from their homes and schools.

After Zerrougui Visit

Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator of the UN, Stephen O’Brien arrived to Nigeria on May 18, 2016.

He was on a two-day visit, to assess the humanitarian crisis created by Boko Haram insurgency.

It was disclosed in Abuja by the Head, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA), Miss Kate Pond.

“The UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Stephen O’Brien, will be in Nigeria from May 18 to 19, to take stock of the humanitarian crisis in the Lake Chad Basin.

“The crisis in the Lake Chad Basin, including Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad, has continuously deteriorated over the last two years.

“Insecurity and counter-insurgency measures have affected over 2.4 million people, making it the fastest growing displacement crisis in Africa,” Pond said.

Pond frowned that communities in the Lake Chad Basin “are already struggling with the effects of climate change, environmental degradation, chronic food insecurity and malnutrition.”

Kate harangued that the conflict has dramatically exacerbated their Internally Displaced Persons’ vulnerability. In the worst-affected areas, she said, almost half of the population of up to 9.2 million people need assistance; and more than three million of the Internally Displaced Persons were affected by food insecurity.

Hence, the UN vowed to make the crisis in the North east an international issue at the World Humanitarian Summit, which was intended to take place in Istanbul, Turkey, on May 23-24 2016.

$500m Appeal To Tackle Refugee Crises

On 25 January 2016, the United Nation High Commission on Refugee (UNHCR) had appealed for financial aid from the international community to the melody of $500 million.

The fund, as according to the UN, was to facilitate its effort in providing humanitarian aid to millions of people forced to flee due to conflicts in Nigeria and by extension, the Central African Republic (CAR).

The UNHCR Regional Refugee Coordinator for CAR and Nigerian situations, Liz Ahua, said, “These two humanitarian crises must not be forgotten; they are not going away. The suffering is great and the needs acute among both the displaced and host communities.

“Violence occurs on almost daily basis in north-eastern Nigeria and CAR, generating fear and new displacement in the region, citing suicide attacks, kidnapping, indiscriminate killings and massive human rights abuses.”

Assistance/Donation Of Food

The World Food Programme (WFP) was particularly troubled about the state of displaced persons, saying that malnutrition rate was higher than the disaster brinks.

The WFP was present in the three countries of the Lake Region of Chad. The body provided food and other assistance to “refugees, returnees, IDPs, and the communities that are hosting them”.

“Life-saving food assistance is being provided along with specialized nutritional food to treat malnourished children under five, and pregnant and nursing women.

“In March, WFP provided food assistance to more than 100,000 people in the three countries, and blanket supplementary feeding activities were launched in Cameroon and continued in Niger to prevent the nutritional status of children under five and nursing women from getting worse,” said a Nigerian official with the presidency who claimed anonymity.

Checks, however, revealed that the WFP had plans to reach close to 400,000 people each month with essential food assistance, even without burning funds. But it had vowed that with its efforts in making sure that the growing needs were met, the WFP was only 25 percent funded – with US$33 million needed at present to meet urgent needs over the next six months.

Odimegwu Onwumere is a Rivers State based poet, writer and consultant and winner, in the digital category, Nordica Media Merit Awards 2016. Tel: +2348057778358. Email: apoet_25@yahoo.com

I Love Her But I Have To Let Her Go (Letter)

My Dear Sister Chinwe, the lady whose voice can even wake the dead from death. I called twice this morning and sent a text to know how you were doing, but yet to hear from you. I had no option since I could not get you on phone, than to send my message again through this medium. I hope you are fine from the cold we talked about last night and while discussing you switched over to a more important call to you, you had.

Well, I’m not sure what might be running on your mind as I’m not a mind’s reader because of the drift in your attitudes towards me of late. You know, we always laugh it over because of some things we share in common which are the understanding of the traditions and cultures of our people. These were actually what brought us a bit close, not closer. But just as time goes it happens that I have taken a step ahead to seeing how closer I can come to you.

I’ve noticed that every passing day brings me closer to you with new feelings no matter the miles away we are. I’m holding you in my heart, not arm. I’ve always felt I was closer to you through your times of trials, but I’ve always shown that through my conducts and applications. You have also reciprocated by giving me some comfort, without you knowing it, by the way we joke and laugh over the phone and on other chatting portals.

Now, you are making me to think as the sun rises everyday if I’m pestering around you too much. I will not remove the fact that you might have other issues bothering to you. Conversely, I would not like to add to your sorrow, My Sweet Voice Chinwe. I won’t! I knew of an adage that says if you love something so much you have to let it go.

For example, if you love your dog so much instead of kill her yourself, you let another person to buy her. I’m finding it so hard to let you go without me setting my eyes on you, without us sitting down together and reminisce on the experiences that brought us together, even though we are miles away. But I will have no option than to go if you so desire, because of the adage above, because I care about you, because if you love something so much, you let it go.

I wish us the very best.

Yours,

Odimegwu Onwumere