June 23, 2022

[GIST] Nigerian Medical Student Stranded In Cuba Since 2020, Says Federal Scholarship Board Tossing Him Up And Down After Failing To Pay His Stipends

[GIST] Nigerian Medical Student Stranded In Cuba Since 2020, Says Federal Scholarship Board Tossing Him Up And Down After Failing To Pay His Stipends

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A Nigerian scholar in Cuba, Kabir Sagir, has cried out bitterly that he is presently stranded after completing his scholarship programme in 2020 as the Nigerian Federal Scholarship Board has failed to pay his stipend.

Cuba is a country in the West Indies and one of the more influential states in the Caribbean region.

Narrating his ordeal to SaharaReporters, Sagir said he received a scholarship to study Medicine at the Latin American School of Medicine, Havana, Cuba and graduated in 2020 but he has not been able to translate his documents and buy his return ticket due to his unpaid stipend.

He said he had called and written to the director of the federal scholarship, Mrs. Ndajiwo H. Asta several times but he was told that the board had forwarded his stipend to the Central Bank of Bank (CBN) for remittance.

Asta also reportedly said she did not know what happened and could not do anything about it.

However, when he contacted the CBN, he was told the bank had not received the money from the board and that if it had received the money but experienced difficulties in remitting it to him, the bank would have returned it to the Federal Ministry of Education.

Sagir, who lamented that he is dying in Cuba, said, “I am Kabir Sagir presently in Cuba. I was awarded a scholarship to study medicine at the Latin American School of Medicine, Havana, Cuba, having succeeded in the tests and exams under the Federal Scholarship Board, Abuja.

“I graduated from the medical school in 2020 but I’m still stranded here. The Federal Scholarship Board refused to send my stipend to enable me to translate my documents and buy a return ticket.

“I have called the Director of the Federal Scholarship Board, Abuja several times, she said that they have forwarded my stipend to CBN for remittances; that they don't know what happened; they can't do anything about it.

“I also called the person in charge of remittances of stipends in the Federal Ministry of Education and according to him, they have sent everything to the CBN. I recently contacted CBN and the person I spoke with in the CBN said that it is not true, that if there is any difficulty in sending the stipend, it should be returned to the Federal Ministry of Education immediately.

“I am dying here in Cuba. I just want to come back home and work for my people. I am a good doctor, who graduated with honours. My GP is 4.”

When SaharaReporters contacted the Director of the Federal Scholarship Board, Mrs Ndajiwo Asta, for clarifications on Sagir’s complaint, she said the Federal Ministry of Education was in a better position to speak on the matter.

“Kindly note that the FSB is a Department in the Federal Ministry of Education. Kindly send your enquiry addressed to the honourable minister who will direct the relevant department to respond according to the civil service rules. Thank you,” she said.

However, responding to an email SaharaReporters also sent to the Federal Scholarship Board on the same issue, the Board provided a letter dated March 14, 2022, sent to Sagir through the Embassy of Nigeria in Cuba, clarifying that the Board paid his stipends up to September 2020.

The letter with the caption, ‘RE: Complaint of non-receiving monthly stipend a Nigerian scholar’ and signed by the Director of the Board, Mrs. Ndajiwo Asta H, reads, “I wish to acknowledge the receipt of your mail dated 31st December, 2021 with Ref.NEMCU/P/V on the above subject and to inform you that Federal Scholarship Board has paid his stipends up to September 2020 and he has graduated.

“Sequel to the above, the Embassy is advised to contact the Finance Attachee for mandate of the payments for more clarification.

“While thanking you for your usual cooperation, please accept my highest regards.”  

SaharaReporters then contacted the Director of Press and Public Relations in the Federal Ministry of Education, Abuja, Ben Bem Goong, for clarifications on the issue but for three days, the mobile phone line did not connect.

A text message was sent to the same phone number but at the time of filing this report, the Director of Press had not replied to the message.

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[GIST] Terrorists Abduct Nigerian Soldier’s Wife, Six Others In Kaduna

[GIST] Terrorists Abduct Nigerian Soldier’s Wife, Six Others In Kaduna

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Gunmen suspected to be bandits on Tuesday night struck at the Millennium City, Kaduna where they kidnapped the wife of a military officer and six others at the Keke ‘A’ and Keke B communities.

According to Vanguard, people in the affected area said that the hoodlums attacked the communities at about 11 pm.

“The bandits operated for about an hour before security operatives came. They went away with three persons at Keke ‘A’. They targeted a big house in the area,” a resident was quoted as saying.

“The bandits came around 11 pm. I think their main target was a house at Keke A. The house belongs to a military officer. But at the time of the attack, the officer was not at home. So, the kidnappers broke into the house and picked (up) his wife.

“They also kidnapped another man who is the immediate neighbour of the military officer. In fact, the neighbour was picked (up) alongside his 8-year-old daughter, but they eventually dropped the daughter when her mother was shouting at the top of her voice.

“I think it was at the point they started shooting sporadically to scare away people who might think of coming to their aid. While all that was happening, another man who was just returning home in his car ran into the kidnappers. He was the third person that was taken away.

“Other people who were still outside including neighborhood shop operators escaped the bandits, as they had to run to safety. As at this morning, we saw many shoes on the ground and we became scared that those must be the shoes of the people kidnapped. But, one of the people who escaped the attack told us the shoes belonged to those who ran away.”

At Keke ‘B’, another resident said, “A man, his wife and their two house girls (home helps) were kidnapped by the bandits. I was so terrified. I just got out of the bathroom abruptly and switched off all the lights inside my house. The gunshots were so close, it was like the bandits were inside my compound. I later discovered that one man, his wife and their two house girls (home helps) were kidnapped.”

In a related development, five people were reportedly kidnapped on Monday from Gwando village in the Kajuru Local Government Area of the state.

“Gwando village is not far from Roboh village where worshippers were abducted on Sunday around 7 am after killing three people,” a source said.

“Gwando is also before Dogon noma and Maikori villages where 32 people were killed on June 5, allegedly with the aid of a helicopter, though the state government denied it on 9th June – four days after the villages were attacked.

According to the state government, the helicopter was there to repel the bandits.

“What is happening around these rural communities is that armed kidnappers are ‘harvesting’ human beings. They followed them into their communities or farms and kidnapped those they can and kill those who resist. Then they asked for ransoms in figures their victims had never seen,” the source said. 

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[GIST] Why Nigerians Are Experiencing Second Fuel Scarcity In 4 Months – Petroleum And Natural Gas Union President

[GIST] Why Nigerians Are Experiencing Second Fuel Scarcity In 4 Months – Petroleum And Natural Gas Union President

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The President of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), Festus Osifo has explained the reasons behind the recent fuel scarcity experienced across Nigeria.

Osifo, during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Wednesday, identified the issue of ‘bridging funds’ between the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) and truck drivers who deliver the Premium Motor Spirits (PMS) as central to the problem.

He said: “The NMDPRA are the ones administering a bridging fund. At a particular time, they agreed with truck drivers that the bridging fund is going to be about N10 per litre depending on the destination you’re going to all over the country.

“As at when they agreed, the cost of diesel was about N250 so it was fashionable and the N10 was a bit okay but today, the cost of diesel is over N700. It has tripled. So, the expectation from the tanker drivers is that since the cost has gone up, instead of paying me N10.40 as the case may be, you have to multiply it by three.

“At the end of the day, that is the first problem.”

According to Osifo, there are at least two billion litres of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), also known as petrol, available contrary to the belief that the product is scarce.

“As at today, we have close to 2 billion litres of PMS, so the problem is not the stock,” he said.

He explained that while the stock is available, most of the truck drivers are not willing to move these products “because of the previous problem I just enumerated”.

“One of the issues again is that today, NNPC is the sole importer of PMS, so they import PMS into the country, and this PMS is brought to the high sea. So they rent some smaller vessels to bunker the PMS and take it to the various tank farms or depots.

“So, if it’s the NNPC depots and you are loading from the NNPC depots, you are going to pay about N148 as the ex-depot price. But some of the PMS are also stored in private depots and those private depots don’t sell to the retailers for N148; they add some premium to it. At the end of the day, they sell between N152, N155, N160 and N162.

“So, if they sell at that amount, it will now be difficult for the retailer to go and sell at the same amount.”

For over one month, between February and March 2022, Nigerians experienced fuel scarcity as a result of the importation of contaminated fuel which was later taken off the market.

So, the current fuel scarcity is the second time Nigerians would experience it this year. 

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[GIST] Nigerian Activist, Akume Accuses Justice Ityonyiman Of Bias In Case Involving Benue Governor, Ortom, Seeks Neutral Judge

[GIST] Nigerian Activist, Akume Accuses Justice Ityonyiman Of Bias In Case Involving Benue Governor, Ortom, Seeks Neutral Judge

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A Nigerian human rights activist, Sesugh Akume has accused Justice Augustine Ityonyiman of Makurdi High Court in Benue of being biased in his treatment of a suit filed against him by the Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom.

Ortom had instituted a N150million libel suit (MHC/284/2021) against Akume and the Publisher of Sahara Reporters, Mr. Omoyele Sowore.

Sesugh Akume

The activist in a letter dated March 18 had asked the Chief Judge of Benue, Justice Aondover Kaka’an to reassign the case to a neutral judge.

He accused Justice Ityonyiman of impunity, bias and violation of the code of conduct.

However, three months after, the judge refused to recuse himself from the case and it was not reassigned, Akume said in a statement released on Wednesday.

He said, “The Chief Judge of Benue, the Honourable Mr Justice Aondover Kaka’an, has given the Honourable Mr Justice A. I. Ityonyiman, the bias judge, the authority to continue in the libel suit instituted against me by Benue governor, Samuel Ortom.

“In a letter dated and delivered on 18 March 2022, I applied to the honourable chief judge to kindly reassign the matter (with suit number MHC/284/2021) to a neutral judge.

“My reason was due to a rather unsavory experience with this judge in another case and the outcome, I not only took it up to the appellate court but referred the judicial bias I suffered and other misconduct of the judge in the case to the National Judicial Council (NJC) for interrogation and disciplinary measures on the judge, in a petition dated and submitted on 22 October 2021, a petition still pending before the NJC. A copy of the petition to the NJC was attached.

“In the light of the above circumstances, it was expected that the trial judge, would going by standard practice, quietly recuse himself from this matter involving me.

“I referred his lordship to the Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Rule 12(1)(a) which states: 12.1 A Judicial Officer should disqualify himself in a proceeding in which his impartiality may genuinely and reasonably be questioned, …where: (a) he has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party.

“I further called his lordship’s attention/memory to the matter of Sesugh Akume v Government of Benue State and 4 Others (MHC/294/2020) dated and filed on 27 August 2020, which being first assigned to the Honourable Justice J. M. Ijohor, and going by Rule and normal convention, recused herself and returned the case file to the chief judge for reassignment.

“I informed him that the judge, in this case, having not done that which ought to have been done, an application was brought before him for recusal, but was vehemently denied and dismissed.

“I respectfully called the honourable Chief Judge’s attention in this letter to the impression created in the mind of the reasonable person of a judge insisting on himself hearing a case where there is a clear conflict of interests; the negative impression it creates of a teleguided judiciary, of a judicial officer taking partial decisions to please certain quarters and/or descending into the seeking to exact personal vendetta; all having the negative potential of bringing the judiciary to disrepute.

“I, therefore, appealed to the honourable Chief Judge, in the interests of justice, to use his good offices to avoid these and reassign this matter to a neutral judge. I assured him that assigning this matter to a neutral and disinterested judge will in no way be prejudicial to the plaintiff nor imperil his case.

“I have received no response from the Chambers of the Chief Judge of Benue. The Honourable Mr Justice Augustine Ityonyiman continues to sit on the case whose next adjourned date is 28 June for the continuation of hearing.”

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[GIST] Nigerian Universities’ Senior Staff Union, SSANU, Non-Academic Staff Union, NASU, Extend Strike By Two Months

[GIST] Nigerian Universities’ Senior Staff Union, SSANU, Non-Academic Staff Union, NASU, Extend Strike By Two Months

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The Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities and Allied Educational Institutions (NASU) have extended their ongoing strike by another two months.

The Joint Action Committee of the two unions, in a statement dated April 21st, 2022, by the National President, SSANU, Comrade Mohammed H. Ibrahim and General Secretary, NASU, Prince Peter A. Adeyemi respectively, informed members that the strike has been extended by one month.

The statement said it was unfortunate that the government had remained indifferent to the demands of the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of NASU and SSANU.

SSANU and NASU started their agitation with a 14-day warning strike in Nigerian universities on Sunday, March 27, 2022, but that was later extended.

For instance, it was extended by one month in April.

“Deriving from the feedback received from our branches in respect of the resolutions conducted which supported fully the ongoing strike and other actions taken by the leadership of JAC, this is to inform members that the strike has been extended by one month to commence on midnight of Sunday, 24th April 2022, pending when the Federal government would have change of heart and be favourably disposed to our demands as highlighted in our letters dated March 1st, 2022, to the representative of the government, the Hon. Minister of Labour and Employment,” a statement had read.

However, in a statement signed by the National President, SSANU, Mr. Mohammed Ibrahim, and General Secretary, Mr. Peter Adeyemi on Wednesday, the unions informed their members that the strike has been again extended by two months.

The statement partly read, “In view of the fact that government is still a long way from effectively resolving the issues in contention, it is only expedient that we allow the process to be fully concluded before directing the end of the strike. Consequently, you are hereby informed that the strike has been extended by two months, within which we are hoping that all the contentious issues would have been effectively laid to rest. The two-month extension is with effect from Friday, June 24, 2022.’’

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[GIST] Peter Obi’s ‘Obidient Movement’ Will Turn To ‘Disobidient Movement’ After 2023 Elections, They Only Exist On Social Media – APC Chieftain

[GIST] Peter Obi’s ‘Obidient Movement’ Will Turn To ‘Disobidient Movement’ After 2023 Elections, They Only Exist On Social Media – APC Chieftain

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The former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Yekini Nabena, has said that the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) does not hope to secure the votes of Nigerians but to hack the server of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the 2023 general elections.

According to him, PDP will not be a stumbling block to the APC in 2023.

“PDP is nothing to talk about as far as the 2023 general election is concerned, although we are watching them keenly based on their past records because we already know their plans and what they are banking on are their Dubai connections and Hushpuppy strategies,” he said.

Nabena called on the INEC to protect its server as “The only hope for the PDP is to hack the INEC server, not the votes of Nigerians to win the election”.

“You can see practically that even in the recent governorship election in Ekiti State, PDP lost its usual second place and I doubt if it can regain that second position anymore in the coming 2023 general elections,” Nabena said.

Nabena also mocked supporters of the presidential candidate of the Labour Party and former Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, saying that the “so-called Obedient movement” only exists on social media.

The APC former Deputy National Publicity Secretary who spoke with journalists on Wednesday in Abuja, said that the Obedient Movement would cease to exist when Obi loses in the 2023 presidential election.

“I can tell you that the so-called ‘Obidient movement’ only exists on social media and after the coming elections, they will naturally turn to ‘disobidient movement’, and later obituary because the movement will naturally vamoose,” he said.

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[GIST] Presidential Candidates, Atiku, Tinubu, With History Of Fraud Allegations Not Likely To Promise Anti-Corruption Fight During Campaign —Bloomberg Report

[GIST] Presidential Candidates, Atiku, Tinubu, With History Of Fraud Allegations Not Likely To Promise Anti-Corruption Fight During Campaign —Bloomberg Report

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The presidential candidates of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Bola Tinubu and Atiku Abubakar, have been described as unfit to end corruption in the country.

According to a Bloomberg report, the duo's past records show that neither of them is free of corruption allegations, adding that seven years after President Muhammadu Buhari promised to swiftly defeat corruption, corruption in Nigeria has become worse than it was in 2015. 

According to the report, the history of graft allegations surrounding the two candidates means neither is likely to curb corruption in the run-up to February’s vote.

"Front-runner Bola Tinubu, who secured the ruling party’s nomination earlier this month, was being investigated by the country’s anti-corruption agency as recently as last June. Three decades ago he fought a lawsuit in which the US government accused him of laundering the proceeds of heroin trafficking and eventually reached a settlement.

"Atiku Abubakar, his chief rival, brought tens of millions of dollars of ‘suspect funds’ into the US when he was Nigeria’s vice president in the 2000s, according to a US Senate report, and was implicated in a bribery case that resulted in the imprisonment of an American congressman. Neither episode resulted in charges against Abubakar.

The Spokesmen for Tinubu and Abubakar didn’t respond to requests made by Bloomberg for comments.

The report noted that Nigeria’s next president will face a daunting challenge to turn around Africa’s largest economy. 

It further noted that falling oil production threatens Nigeria’s place as the continent’s biggest crude producer.

It lamented how inflation is soaring in the country with more than half of the working-age population either unemployed or underemployed. 

"The local currency has depreciated steeply under outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari, falling from around N220 to the US dollar on the widely-used parallel market when he was first elected in early 2015 to about N600 this week.

"Nigeria vies with India as the country with the highest number of people living in extreme poverty despite having a seventh of the population. Meanwhile, secessionists, Islamist militants and armed criminal gangs terrorize large swathes of territory.

Efforts to restore security and fix the economy alone will likely fall short because there’s an unavoidable connection between financial graft and government dysfunction in Nigeria, said Leena Koni Hoffmann, an associate fellow at Chatham House in London. 

Corruption “hollows systems out and cripples them from the inside,” she said.

"The race will see the two wealthy septuagenarians mobilize impressive political machines built over more than 30 years pursuing power in Africa’s most-populous country. Voters in Nigeria are often offered cash, food or clothing to persuade them to cast their ballots for particular candidates.

The report recalled how on the eve of the last election in 2019, two armoured bank vans were photographed driving into Tinubu’s home. 

“If I have money to spend, if I like, I give it to the people for free of charge as long as it’s not to buy votes,” Tinubu told reporters when asked what the vehicles were transporting.

"Tinubu and Abubakar have cultivated deep systems of political patronage, according to Hoffmann. Both men excel at “engineering and expanding political networks through co-optation, through channeling and redistributing money and positions and favors,” she said.

"Tinubu, 70, who lives in Lagos’s wealthiest neighborhood, says he made his fortune before going into politics by investing well and working as an accountant for companies including Deloitte LLP. 

“Abubakar, 75, who splits his time between Nigeria and Dubai, spent two decades working for the government’s customs department and co-founded a large logistics and oil services firm that has operated concessions at Nigerian ports,” the report added. 

It recalled a report published in 2010 by the US Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which said one of Abubakar’s wives helped her husband bring more than $40 million in “suspect funds” into the US while he was Nigeria’s vice president.

This included at least $1.7 million in bribes paid by Siemens AG. Abubakar and his then-spouse previously have denied any wrongdoing.

Former US Representative William Jefferson was sentenced to 13 years in prison in 2009 for taking bribes from American companies interested in doing business in Nigeria and Ghana. 

In July 2005, Jefferson told a cooperating witness that Atiku Abubakar had also agreed to accept a bribe in exchange for his assistance, according to the Louisiana congressman’s indictment. 

Atiku, however, denied the allegations, saying he had no personal or business relationship with Jefferson.  

Abubakar’s hopes of succeeding President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2007 were torpedoed when the EFCC declared him unfit to hold public office and a Nigerian Senate panel recommended his prosecution for allegedly diverting government funds. 

But Atiku has described it as political persecution.

Both Tinubu and Atiku will focus on issues other than corruption while campaigning, said Hoffmann. “They know it’s not part of their political image,” she said.

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