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Back After Kashim Shettima Sent Us ‘Packing’

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Back After Kashim Shettima Sent Us ‘Packing’

By Stanley Nkwocha

The mood at the Vice President’s wing of the Presidential Villa on Friday December 22, 2023, was different from what it used to be during preparations for festivities in the yuletide. On the faces of the aides and staff working in the VP’s office was a concatenation of excitement and incredulity. Even an amateur telepath would effortlessly sense the relief and exhilaration coursing through them as they discussed among themselves.

What was the excitement all about? The Vice President, Senator Kashim Shettima, had just directed that all his aides and staff who are Christians should proceed on Christmas holidays and resume after the New Year celebrations. It was a big relief for them, especially those who had already been slated for advanced movements ahead of the VP’s official visits to some states.

The thrilling sensation in the VP’s office that weekend was however not unexpected. Such a gesture from a leader pertaining to the welfare of his workers is quite rare in this part of the globe, especially in Nigeria where aides and staff of Aso Rock Villa would have to work round the clock to maintain and sustain presidential schedules.

As an aide or staff in the seat of power, your life is no longer your own. Work-life balance doesn’t exist. You hardly have a weekend planned, entailing that you must have to cope with events of close friends and family members you will have to miss. This is apart from not seeing them more often, as you would not be at liberty to frequently take a vacation.

However, it was a completely different ball game for the 2023 yuletide, as the workers were asked to go home and celebrate the Christmas holiday with their families, courtesy of the VP’s human side of officialdom and bureaucracy. That is Vice President Shettima for you – a boss who takes the welfare of his workers seriously. He cares about life outside of work and is conscious about the things that are important to those working with him, irrespective of class and religious affiliations. He would check in to see how things are going for them.

A true example of what it means to be a servant leader, the Vice President is one of the most humble, compassionate leaders that I have personally met. He is a man who leads by example and is committed to creating a better future for the next generation.

His approach to work and style of leadership which treats the ‘ordinary’ man with the same delight as those of the ruling class are fundamentally both humane and democratic. At work, he gives you ample time to explain your expectations, as he patiently answers your questions, and he is available if you need help. He also encourages all his staff to work together, help one another and be a true team.

Yet, for himself, state governors and other top government officials, Vice President Shettima did not see the need to go on vacation when, according to him, a lot needed to be done to save the nation’s economy. At the 138th meeting of the National Economic Council (NEC) which was held on December 21, 2023, he told council members to shelve the idea of vacation and concentrate on issues of governance with a view to easing the burden of the citizens.

“As the year draws to a close, none of us in this chamber should anticipate a vacation. I tend to think so because upon our shoulders rests the weight of responsibilities from which we cannot escape. We are returning to be judged by the promises we made to be here,” he told the NEC members suggestively.

The message here was simple and direct: as public office holders, members of NEC should realise that there is no time for revelries and merriment because ‘to whom much is given, much is expected.’

At the national level alongside his principal, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a seasoned democrat, Kashim Shettima is replicating the same leadership direction required by his Boss as manifested during his visit to Bende in Abia State last Friday where he unveiled the Peace in South East Project (PISE-P) initiated by the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Benjamin Okezie Kalu.

The VP declared the readiness of the Tinubu administration to put an end to the reign of terror in the South East region by those he designated as self-serving criminals working in cahoots with certain persons taking advantage of the security situation to foster their dangerous political agenda. He vowed that the administration will deploy all available resources to eliminate the purveyors of falsehoods and propaganda that have become weapons against Nigeria’s unity.

And to confirm the confidence the people of the South East have in the VP and his boss, the duo were given traditional titles. President Tinubu was conferred with Omeziri Igbo 1, while VP Shettima got the traditional title of Enyioma Ndigbo by the Chairman of the Abia State Council of Traditional Rulers, Eze Linus Mbah.

Tacitly justifying the traditional titles conferred on the VP and his principal, chairman of the South East Governor’s Forum, Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State, said Senator Shettima has demonstrated sufficient goodwill to the people of the region. “Our Vice President has shown sufficient goodwill to the people of the South East. From this part of the country, we will continue to work with the rest of Nigeria to make the country a prosperous nation for the interest of all of us for service to God and humanity,” the governor stated.

Indeed, in a country where religion, tribalism and regionalism are often used to divide and conquer, Vice President Shettima remains a staunch believer in the unity and progress of Nigeria. He has consistently demonstrated his commitment to a united Nigeria where every citizen is treated equally, regardless of their religion, tribe or ethnicity.

As we return to work following his ‘henlele dey go’ directive, one cannot but see the freshness amongst fellow colleagues who clearly are more invigorated and focused to support the Vice President in achieving the monumental set goals, targets and visions of the Tinubu administration.

May God bless us with a most prosperous new year.

  • Nkwocha is the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Communications (Office of The Vice President).

Back After Kashim Shettima Sent Us ‘Packing’

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Women Stakeholders: Women Political Participation Would Stimulate Diverse Perspectives, Empower Communities

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Women Stakeholders: Women Political Participation Would Stimulate Diverse Perspectives, Empower Communities

By: Michael Mike

The Coalition of Women Political Participation Partner’s Working Group is calling for constitutional gender inclusion to drive women’s political participation, which is necessary for diverse perspectives in decision-making and the promotion of good governance.

The group during a meeting to brainstorm on actions that should be evolved to ensure gender equality in political representation in the country, said women’s political participation would stimulate diverse perspectives and empower communities.

At the coordination and strategy meeting on affirmative action reforms to increase women’s political representation in the ongoing constitution review process in Abuja supported by the United Nations Women, the President of Women in Politics Forum (WIPF), Ms. Ebere Ifendu, stressed the need for affirmative action to strengthen advocacies and to effectively influence policymakers in the ongoing constitution review to promote women’s political participation.

She said: “The Nigeria’s constitution review presents a unique opportunity to rectify the underrepresentation of women in politics. We must seize this moment to create a more inclusive democracy, harnessing the potential of all citizens, regardless of gender. As advocates, we believe that affirmative action is an important tool to address past injustices and ensure fair representation of women in the political landscape. We need more participation of women in politics. We need a quota system. We need affirmative action because for all the countries that have a certain percentage of women in governance, it is due to legislation. Without legislation, we may not achieve anything.”

She added that the meeting was to coordinate all efforts, including advocacy for the adoption and enactment of reforms to boost women’s political representation in the constitution review process.

“The current constitutional review process presents a unique opportunity to incorporate gendered affirmative action reforms into Nigeria’s legal framework, demonstrating a commitment to equity, equality, and inclusivity,” Ifendu said.

She added that: “As Nigerian women, we went to court and got a judgment on the National Gender Policy. We are saying that since there is a judgment, we should begin to work on implementation and be able to demand the implementation of the court order. We heard that the government has appealed. We have not received any notice of such an appeal. So, we want to believe that the law, as we speak today, is that the gender policy must be respected, and it’s talking about 35 percent affirmative action.”

On her part, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and women’s advocate, Professor Joy Ezeilo, said it is time to have total inclusion that accommodates and recognizes the rights of women, youths, and persons with disabilities to participate and be included in governance and decision-making in the country.

She said: “We are so behind other countries. So, what are we talking about that we cannot operationalize 35 or 30 percent? And we are still talking about something below? Women should not accept anything below 35 percent of political positions. We went to Beijing in 1995 and it was agreed that at least 30 percent affirmative action be given to us over 25 years ago. We have to find a way that this constitution becomes inclusive while addressing other problems in Nigeria.

“There is also the issue of justice, fairness, and equity in the application of resources for the greater benefit of all Nigerians. So, it is time to take action to rectify these wrongs of the past and these structural inequalities and discrimination against women.”

The former Country Director of ActionAid Nigeria, Mrs. Ene Obi along side the Director of Planning and Statistics at the Maryam Babangida National Centre for Women Development, Jummai-Idonije
emphasized the need to engage the legislature, media, grassroots women, and other stakeholders to increase women’s political representation.

They also called for collaboration and commitment from women politicians to increase the number of women in leadership positions.

The stakeholders urged the 10th National Assembly to operationalize the 35 percent affirmative action, as observed in other countries and in line with international standards, to promote equity, fairness, and justice.

The coordination and strategy meeting, supported by UN Women is to unify efforts among diverse organisations to establish a coordinated programmatic approach that leverages the strengths and resources of each participating organisation towards a common goal in advocating for affirmative action reforms to increase women’s political representation

Women Stakeholders: Women Political Participation Would Stimulate Diverse Perspectives, Empower Communities

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ECOWAS Court Deepens Cooperation with ICRC

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ECOWAS Court Deepens Cooperation with ICRC

By: Michael Mike

The ECOWAS Court of Justice and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) achieved a significant milestone on July 12, 2024, by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). This MoU, a pivotal moment in their partnership, is poised to deepen their collaboration in international humanitarian law and international human rights law.

The MoU, signed at the Court’s seat in Abuja, aims to engage both parties on topics of mutual interest through various collaborative activities, such as trainings, roundtables, and joint conferences.

In his opening remarks at the signing ceremony, Justice Edward Amoako Asante, President of the ECOWAS Court of Justice, expressed his pleasure in attending this important event. He highlighted the long-standing relationship between the ECOWAS Court and the ICRC, noting the valuable training and support provided by the ICRC to build the Court’s capacity in International Humanitarian Law. He emphasized the importance of renewing this relationship to continue developing jurisprudence in new areas of law and welcomed the ongoing cooperation.

Yann Bonzon, Head of Delegation for the ICRC, addressed the attendees, underscoring the ICRC’s historic and valuable relationship with ECOWAS. He detailed the evolution of this partnership, including the first MoU signed in 2001 and the most recent revision in 2023. Mr. Bonzon emphasized the crucial role of the ECOWAS Court in safeguarding International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and International Human Rights Law (IHRL). He expressed confidence that the initiatives born out of this MoU will enhance the expertise and role of the Court in applying these laws, thus better addressing humanitarian challenges in West Africa. Yann Bonzon was accompanied by Rafiullah Qureshi, Deputy Head of Delegation, ICRC and Juliet Kelechi Unubi, Humanitarian Affairs and Diplomacy Advisor for the ICRC.

Elaborating on the objectives of the MoU, Juliet Kelechi Unubi, highlighted the mutual benefits of leveraging each other’s expertise, facilitating access to expert opinions, publications, and training. She underscored the unwavering commitment to continue IHL training for ECOWAS Court judges and staff, a key initiative to strengthen their knowledge and interpretation of international human rights law. This emphasis on continuous training reassures the audience about the Court’s commitment to maintaining and enhancing its expertise.

Concluding the ceremony of the signing of the memorandum, Dr. Yaouza Ouro-Sama, Chief Registrar of the ECOWAS Court of Justice, expressed deep appreciation to all those who collaborated on the finalisation and signing of the MoU. This expression of gratitude made the participants feel appreciated for their role in the partnership. He commended the ICRC’s global efforts in protecting victims of armed conflict and violence and expressed confidence in the effectiveness of the MoU. He extended heartfelt gratitude to the ICRC for its continuous support and invaluable contributions to the Court’s activities.

The Vice President of the Court and other judges, the Director of Administration and Finance, the Director of Research and Documentation, and the Deputy Chief Registrar were also present at the event.

ECOWAS Court Deepens Cooperation with ICRC

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ECOWAS Court Holds Republic of Ghana liable for Breach of Citizen’s Right to Information

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ECOWAS Court Holds Republic of Ghana liable for Breach of Citizen’s Right to Information

By: Michael Mike

The ECOWAS Court of Justice on 12 July 2024, held that the Republic of Ghana violated the right to information of Isaac Mensah and ordered the State to provide him with the requested information.

In the judgment delivered by Justice Edward Amoako Asante, Judge Rapporteur, the Court ordered the Republic of Ghana to release to Isaac Mensah, documents relating to the investigations on the enforced disappearance of his father and subsequent actions. The documents include a 2009 UN/ECOWAS Investigation Report, the coroner’s report on bodies evacuated to Ghana and report on the disbursement of the money paid by The Gambia to the affected families, among others.

The Court dismissed all other claims sought by Isaac Mensah and the Registered Trustees of African Network Against Extrajudicial Killings and Enforced Disappearances (ANEKED) against the Republic of Ghana concerning the arrest, detention, and disappearance of some West African migrants in The Gambia in July 2005.

In the application with suit number ECW/CCJ/APP/47/20, filed on 18 November 2020, the Applicants alleged that Peter Mensah, a Ghanaian and father of Isaac Mensah, was among some West African migrants travelling to Europe through The Gambia who were arrested by state security agents of The Gambia and killed or disappeared.

They averred that Ghana violated its human rights obligations under the African Charter and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) by its failure to thoroughly investigate the enforced disappearance of Peter Mensah in The Gambia, provide effective remedy and grant the Applicants access to information relating to the unlawful detention and disappearance of Peter Mensah.

They asked the Court to direct the State to conduct an effective investigation into the disappearance of Peter Mensah, give copies of past fact-finding reports and other requested documents to the Applicants, and pay the sum of 1,500,000 USD as compensation to the first Applicant, Isaac Mensah.

In response, the Republic of Ghana challenged the competence of the Court to hear the matter since the incident occurred in The Gambia, outside the jurisdiction of the Republic of Ghana. It also objected the admissibility of the application on the grounds that the Applicants did not establish their relationship to Peter Mensah, the primary victim of the alleged human rights violations. It therefore asked the Court to dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction and inadmissibility.

On jurisdiction, the Court declared it had jurisdiction over Isaac Mensah’s claim relating to violation of the right to information but declined jurisdiction over alleged violation of the prohibition against enforced disappearance, right to effective remedy and right to truth. The Court noted that incidents forming the basis of those claims occurred outside the territory of the Republic of Ghana and therefore the Court did not have jurisdiction over them.

On admissibility, the Court declared the first Applicant’s application relating to the violation of the right to information was admissible but that he lacked the capacity to sue on behalf of other 23 individuals claiming to be members of the Mensah family due to lack of authorisation to sue on their behalf. It also struck out the second Applicant, Registered Trustees of African Network Against Extrajudicial Killings and Enforced Disappearances (ANEKED) from the suit for lack of evidence of any mandate to bring the application on behalf of the Applicants.

In its findings, the Court noted that despite getting a waiver of confidentiality from The Gambia on a 2009 UN/ECOWAS Investigation Report on the alleged detention and enforced disappearance of Peter Mensah and others, Ghana had failed to release it to Isaac Mensah. Consequently, the Court held that the Republic of Ghana breached the Applicant, Isaac Mensah’s right to information contrary to Article 9(1) of the African Charter and Article 19(2) of the ICCPR.

The Court ordered the Republic of Ghana to release the Report and other documents requested by the Applicant to him within four months of the service of the judgment.

Also on the bench were Justice Gberi-Bè Ouattara and Justice Ricardo Claúdio Monteiro Gonçalves.

ECOWAS Court Holds Republic of Ghana liable for Breach of Citizen’s Right to Information

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