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VP decorated with 2024 Armed Forces Remembrance Day emblem

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VP decorated with 2024 Armed Forces Remembrance Day emblem

By: Our Reporter

The Vice President, Sen. Kashim Shettima, has restated the commitment of the Tinubu administration to the welfare of the Nigerian Armed Forces, including families of fallen heroes.

He said the administration’s resolve was in acknowledgement of the sacrifices of service personnel to the unity of Nigeria and sustenance of global peace.

The Vice President who stated this on Tuesday evening shortly after he was decorated with the emblem of the 2024 Armed Forces Remembrance Day at the Presidential Villa recalled the heroics of Nigerian service personnel in conflict theatres at home, across Africa and beyond.

Sen. Shettima said, “We really need to identify with the families of our fallen heroes – those who made the supreme sacrifice in the enthronement of peace in our country and our world in general, from Congo to Liberia, Sierra Leone and beyond.

“My heart goes out to the families of those who paid the supreme price. We have the moral burden to support them”.

Earlier, National Chairman of the Nigerian Legion, Maj. Gen. Abdulmalik Jibrin, said the annual Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration is a solemn occasion dedicated to remembering the sacrifices of fallen heroes of the Nigerian Armed Forces.

He also urged Nigerians to always remember the families of the fallen heroes, especially by contributing resources through the Nigerian Legion for the welfare of their loved ones.

Recall that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu had in October launched the Emblem Appeal for the 2024 Armed Forces Remembrance Day, restating his government’s commitment to the repositioning of the armed forces.

VP decorated with 2024 Armed Forces Remembrance Day emblem

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National News

Reflecting on 25 Years of Freedom from Abacha”s Death Sentence: A Journey of Resilience and Gratitude

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Reflecting on 25 Years of Freedom from Abacha”s Death Sentence: A Journey of Resilience and Gratitude

By Bello Fadile_

As I sit down to pen these words, my mind drifts back to a momentous day etched in the annals of my personal history – March 4, 1999. It was on this day, 25 years ago, that I emerged from the shadows of incarceration into the warm embrace of freedom. The memory of that day remains vivid in my mind, a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the unwavering power of faith.

In a recent conversation with journalists, I had the opportunity to recount the events surrounding my unexpected liberation from the confines of Argungu Prison, a facility now known as a Correctional Facility, in Kebbi State. Sentenced to what seemed like a lifetime behind bars for advocating a non-violent transition to democracy, I found myself grappling with the harsh realities of life under the regime of the late Gen. Sani Abacha–my then friend and boss.

The following excerpt is testimony of my release from a “life sentence”, as extracted from the upcoming book, “Nine Lives: The Bello Fadile Memoirs”:

“..25 years ago, in the wee hours of March 4 1999, I had tap, tap, tap, on my cell window and Colonel! Colonel!! wake up. I got up and went closer. Then I saw the warder on duty, a retired Warrant officer of the Nigerian Army now working for the Nigeria Prison Services. He said, “Oga you don free, congratulations sir, start packing your things, you are going home.”

I asked him, what did you just say? ” He said, “Yes sir you are  to be released today, sir.” I did not say anything. I just believed him and rushed to the general open cell opposite my cell to tell the two other inmates who were on a three-day dry fasting with me, seeking the face of God in my situation. It was the beginning of the third day. I told them the good news and they shouted, “Hallelujah!” and we stood up and joined hands to sing out sing-song chorus; God is able, abundantly able, to deliver and to save; The Lord is able, abundantly able, to deliver those who trust in him. Hallelujah!”

As can be seen from the excerpts, it was as the early hours of March 4th dawned that a gentle tap on my cell window shattered the silence of the night, heralding the arrival of long-awaited news. A retired Warrant Officer turned prison warder stood before me, bearing tidings of liberation. With a heart overflowing with gratitude, I shared the news with my fellow inmates, their voices rising in a chorus of praise and thanksgiving.

In those fleeting moments, as I prepared to leave my confinement behind, I was overcome with a profound sense of gratitude towards those who had supported me during my darkest hours. It was with a newfound appreciation for the precious gift of freedom that I stepped out of the prison gates, my spirit unshackled from the chains of oppression.

As I reflect on the significance of this momentous occasion, I am reminded of the countless individuals who fought tirelessly for the cause of democracy in Nigeria. I extend my deepest gratitude to Gen. Abdusalami Alhaji Abubakar, whose act of clemency paved the way for my release, and to all those who contributed to the establishment of a true democratic government in our beloved nation.

As March 4th, 2024, marks the 25th anniversary of my freedom, I am filled with a sense of humility and reverence. My journey from incarceration to liberation serves as a poignant reminder of the resilience of the human spirit and the triumph of justice over adversity. I am eternally grateful for the unwavering support of my fellow countrymen and women, and I remain committed to upholding the values of democracy and freedom for generations to come.
To God be the honor and glory, and may His blessings continue to shine upon the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Col. Bello Fadile (Ph.D Law) is human rights lawyer and retired Nigerian Army officer

Reflecting on 25 Years of Freedom from Abacha”s Death Sentence: A Journey of Resilience and Gratitude

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National News

Fraud and Mismanagement Rock INGO’s IDP Cash Assistance Effort in Bama

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Fraud and Mismanagement Rock INGO’s IDP Cash Assistance Effort in Bama

By: Zagazola Makama

Corruption has recently undermined humanitarian efforts in Bama, located in the northeast of Borno State, where aid workers responding to the 13-year insurgency have been accused of fraud.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Mercy Corps oversee a multi-purpose cash assistance (MPCA) program, providing financial aid to newly arrived internally displaced persons (IDPs) at Bama IDP Camp. This program aims to meet the basic needs of the refugees, alleviate their households’ financial burdens, and guide them towards sustainable recovery.

Despite being designed to assist 1,000 selected IDPs, the program has been tainted by fraudulent activities carried out by humanitarian workers. This has led the United Nations to establish an investigative team to look into the accusations.

Here’s how the issue unfolded:

From November 2023 to January 2024, the IOM compiled a list of 1,000 newly arrived IDPs to receive cash assistance and issued them tokens. However, during the distribution process, it was discovered that 83 IDPs had already departed the camp for Pulka, Banki, and Konduga to reunite with family, resulting in excess tokens.

An IOM volunteer, tasked with training women in tailoring, was given 50 of these surplus tokens to distribute under a covert arrangement with an IOM officer. This deal stipulated that each recipient would return 95% or 80% of the cash received. After compiling the list, it was sent to Mercy Corps for verification before the commencement of the cash distribution. Each beneficiary was to receive N91,030.

When the funds were disbursed, however, the IDPs who received tokens through the IOM volunteer were asked to return amounts between N86,000 and N70,000. This caused discontent among some IDPs, who felt cheated out of the full N91,030 they were entitled to.

Mr. Abdulrahman Busube, the Councillor of Bama, initiated an investigation after 33 IDPs complained of receiving only N20,000 or N5,000. Busube promptly reported the matter to the police, leading to the questioning of the IOM volunteer. The police found her with 42 tokens and N600,000, but she claimed to have received these from “Judith,” an IOM staff member overseeing the program, for collecting the kickbacks.

Judith was summoned by the police but denied any involvement, despite the volunteer’s insistence that she was acting under Judith’s instructions. Alhaji Modu Ali Gujja, the Chairman of Bama, called for a thorough investigation.

On February 26, a five-member IOM team visited Bama to investigate the fraud allegations. They met with the camp coordination team and interrogated the accused volunteer, who stood by her story. Camp officials informed the investigators that numerous complaints had been received about IDPs being shortchanged and that some recipients of new arrival tokens were actually Bama community members, not IDPs.

During a subsequent emergency meeting at the UN Humanitarian Hub in Bama, which included various officials and two participants joining virtually from Maiduguri, Judith again denied distributing the 50 tokens.

However, the situation took a turn when some of the N600,000 recovered by Busube was misappropriated. While the investigation was ongoing, the Chairman directed the Councillor to distribute N5,000 to each of 92 new arrival IDPs and N10,000 to each of ten head of households. However, of the N600,000, Busube only presented N450,000, with N150,000 unaccounted for. When questioned about the discrepancy, Busube claimed he had used the funds to settle the police and shared N45,000 among his fellow councillors.

Busube maintained that some of the money was distributed to the police and the remaining was shared among the new arrivals and heads of households, with 92 new arrivals each receiving N5,000 and ten households each receiving N10,000.

This misappropriation came to light amidst the ongoing investigation into the broader corruption scandal within the humanitarian operations in Bama. The situation highlights not only the initial fraud committed by the IOM volunteer and potentially other staff members but also the subsequent mismanagement of recovered funds by a local official.

The case continues to be under scrutiny, with calls for accountability and transparency to restore integrity to the aid efforts in the region.

Fraud and Mismanagement Rock INGO’s IDP Cash Assistance Effort in Bama

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Military

Marwa Commends British Govt Over Marine Headquarters Project for NDLEA

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Marwa Commends British Govt Over Marine Headquarters Project for NDLEA

By: Michael Mike

Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa (Retd) has commended the British Government for offering to undertake the provision of headquarters house and personnel accommodation for the Marine Unit of the anti-narcotics body at the Eko Atlantic city beach.

Marwa, who gave the commendation while performing the groundbreaking ceremony to signify the commencement of the project facilitated by the UK Home Office International Operations (HOIO), assured that the agency will continue to live up to the expectations of Nigerians and its international partners.

He said the confidence reposed in the agency by President Bola Tinubu and the UK government as well as their all-round support will always be a morale booster for the officers and men who daily take huge risks to dismantle drug cartels with the sole aim of curbing the menace of substance abuse and illicit drug trafficking in Nigeria, while significantly contributing to the global effort to address the drug problem.

He noted that the office and accommodation facilities being provided by the UK government for personnel of the marine unit of the agency will in no small measure enhance their safety, efficiency and confidence. “You have provided us a place here, you’ve given us the trainings, you’ve supported with the boats and the repairs and now the accommodation. We can only say thank you. We wish to give the assurances on what you already know that the NDLEA is a serious Agency, we do what we have to do without fear or favour, we will get the job done, that I can give you the assurance as we continue to partner. Thank you very much”, the NDLEA boss said while addressing the British government officials and their contractors at the site of the project.

He also commended personnel of the Navy, Customs, Immigration and other services in the area for their collaboration with NDLEA. “We all must stand up together, though the NDLEA is the lead agency in this enterprise, the work is collaborative. We must partner to get the job done. I’ve been briefed that there’s lot of collaboration going on the same way I was at MMIA this morning and spoke to your senior colleagues there and they are all working together as you are here. I urge you to keep it up in this spirit and I wish you more success.”

Addressing officers of the Unit, Marwa said the leadership of the agency is restructuring the Marine Unit so that it “can become a lean and mean force under an able commander”, adding “you should brace up, stand up on your two feet and work very hard to make sure that drugs do not pass by water.”

In his brief remarks at the ceremony, Kris Hawksfield of the UK Home Office International Operations assured that the project will be completed latest by July 2024.

Speaking earlier at a War Against Drug Abuse (WADA) advocacy meeting with the leadership of the Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN), Marwa said there is need for the organization to partner with the Agency in the fight against substance abuse and illicit drug trafficking. He urged the PMAN President, Prettywise Okafor and other executives to mobilise their members to use their God-given talents for the good of the society rather than using their music to promote drug abuse especially among the youths.

Okafor in his response expressed the preparedness of PMAN to partner with the Agency. He also gave details of their effort to organise advocacy campaign against drug abuse across the country and their plan to build rehabilitation centres as part of their ongoing projects in Abuja and Lagos.

Marwa Commends British Govt Over Marine Headquarters Project for NDLEA

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