FOI: Delta commissioner convicted for withholding information

The Delta State Commissioner for Lands and Survey, Mr Daniel Okenyi and other top officials of the state government have been convicted for withholding information under the Freedom of Information Act.

They were convicted by a Kwale High Court of Justice for failure to release relevant land documents to community leaders from Umu-Okpala Omai family of Umusam community in Kwale.

The community leaders, relying on the FOI act, had written to the ministry and other relevant officials to demand records of land acquired by an oil firm, Midwestern Oil and Gas PLC at Umusadege marginal oil field in OML 56.

The commissioner, Mr Daniel Okenyi, along with his ministry, Permanent Secretary in the ministry and others were ordered by the presiding judge, Honourable Justice O Jalogho-Williams, to pay N2.5million.

They were also ordered to henceforth provide relevant land records and information to the community leaders in line with the FOI act.

In the judgement dated November 01, 2016 a copy of which was obtained by The Nation, Justice Jalogho-Williams agreed with the complainants, represented by Osteen Igbapike Esq., that as a public officer, the commissioner and the ministry acted against the FOI.

He stressed that they were obliged to release the relevant documents to the community leaders and awarded N200, 000 as cost of the suit against the commissioner.

Okenyi, who was second respondent in the case and four others, were therefore convicted of “willful denial of requested record/documents/information in the custody of the Ministry of Lands and Survey.”

Legal sources told our reporter that the very high-ranking Delta government might be the biggest public officeholder to be caught in the FOI net since the law was enacted.

The Nation gathered that the conviction followed a legal action instituted against the MLSUD by Pa Moses Okpala, Benedict Okweye, Sunday Ndubuishi, Nwaizemeka Fredrick and Okweye Sunday against the commissioner and the ministry for failure to release documents relating to the acquisition of a parcel of land for oil exploration activities by the oil firm.

It was learnt that they applied to the ministry to provide vital documents as to the acquisition of the land eight years.

Reacting to the judgement, Igbapike told our reporter, “The ministry has powers to the documents and they have access to it,” adding that more Nigerians should hold government officials accountant for failure to perform their duties.

He said that the FOI act provides that once your request is not answered, it is assumed that it has been denied and commended the judge for doing the right thing.

Meanwhile, attempts to get reaction of the commissioner and his ministry to the judgment were futile, although it was gathered that Okenyi and the other respondents failed to appear in court, respond or send representatives.

Information Minister charges Nigerian broadcast stations to respect COSON copyright royalty agreement

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has called on all broadcasting stations operating in Nigeria to honour the copyright royalty agreement they entered into with Copyright Society of Nigeria through the Broadcasting Organizations of Nigeria and Independent Broadcasting Association of Nigeria in 2014.

The Minister made the call recently at the headquarters of his ministry in Abuja when he met with the COSON delegation, which was led by the Chairman, Tony Okoroji.

Also present at the meeting were the heads of all Federal Government-owned broadcasting agencies including the Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission Ishaq Modibbo Kawu; the Director-General of Nigerian Television Authority; Yakubu Mohammed, and the Director-General of the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, Mansur Liman. All Senior Assistants of the minister were also in attendance.

In his opening remark, the minister reiterated the need for a nationwide re-orientation as well as the need to respect copyright laws. Speaking further, he added that the Nigerian creative industries have the potentials to form the bedrock of a new Nigerian economy.

Addressing the minister, Mr. Okoroji said that his delegation was not in Abuja for photo opportunities with government officials but to seriously engage the government on matters that concern the Nigerian creative industries.

The COSON Chairman made several specific requests, which he said would produce speedy results and be of immense benefit to the nation. The requests include the following:

• The Federal Government should ensure the full implementation of the Private Copy Levy scheme without any further delay.

• The Federal Government should make it very clear to all telecommunications companies operating in Nigeria that henceforth, there will be zero tolerance for the infringement of the Intellectual Property rights of Nigerian citizens whose works are deployed by these companies.

• All Federal and State owned broadcasting stations and other government institutions must respect the intellectual property rights of citizens, as there is no provision under the law that exempts them from the infringement of copyright with respect to the content broadcast or deployed by them.

• The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) should be requested as a matter of urgency to take necessary steps to begin the take down of the several pirate websites bastardizing and frittering away Nigerian Intellectual Property on the Internet.

• The Ministry of Industry, Trade & Investment, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs ought to be requested to act swiftly to ensure that the brazen and massive piracy of Nigerian music, movies and literature across our continent is no longer tolerated.

• The Nigerian Copyright Commission should be given new vigour and empowered to pivot towards the effective implementation of anti-piracy measures in the digital environment as the nature of piracy has changed.

• The National Assembly should be made to act with dispatch to ensure the promulgation into law of the new Copyright Bill, which contains several provisions dealing with emerging issues and the infringement of copyright in the digital era.

• Necessary action should be taken to get the National Endowment Fund for the Arts up and running so that there are resources to take care of funding for creative projects and the welfare of creative people who have fallen into hard times.

It was agreed at the meeting that a working group comprising officials of the ministry, COSON, and government agencies would be urgently set up to address the issues raised at the meeting.

The COSON delegation to the Minister included Afro juju star, Shina Peters; Rub-a-dub maestro, Ras Kimono; Gospel music star, Kenny Saint Best, and Queen of love, Azeezat Allen.

Also in the delegation were COSON General Manager, Chinedu Chukwuji and COSON Public Affairs Consultant, Mrs. Lucy Ajayi.

FG to launch Information Portal for Nigerians at home and abroad – Minister   

The Federal Government will soon launch an Information Portal to keep Nigerians at home and in the diaspora abreast of government’s programmes and policies and also get their feedback.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, disclosed this in Abuja on Tuesday when he received the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diapora, Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, on a courtesy visit to his office.

“I think what is lacking today is that most of our people in the Diaspora base their views and opinions, their actions and reactions about what is happening at home largely on second hand, third hand or fourth hand information and this is why this particular portal is very important.

”In particular, it will be provide our brothers and sisters in the diaspora with first hand information on what is happening at home. We will also ensure that this portal will enable us to get a feedback from them on what they are doing,” he said.

Alhaji Mohammed also announced that town hall meetings would be organised for Nigerians in the diaspora, especially in cities with large Nigerian communities, as part of efforts to engage them on the efforts the government is making to develop the country.

He said there were also plans to launch the Change Begins With Me Campaign in some major cities across the world, with a view to reinforcing the faith and belief of the diaspora Nigerians in the Nigeria Project and also to carry them along in the rescue mission to revamp the economy and ensure the return of moral values that will re-position the country on the path to greatness.

The Minister lauded the contributions of Nigerians resident abroad to the development of their host countries, saying they remain Nigeria’s ambassadors, whose views are not tainted by sectional, ethnic or religious prejudices.

He said in times of recession as currently being witnessed in Nigeria, the contribution of the diaspora community is capable of reflating the economy, particularly if the funds they remit come through the official sources.

“Unfortunately for us in Nigeria, even though a lot of money comes from the diaspora, it does not come through official sources. I think that the Central Bank is also doing everything possible to ensure that the inflow from the diaspora comes through official sources,” the Minister said.

In her remarks, Mrs. Dabiri-Erewa sought the partnership of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture in building a formidable structure that will engage Nigerians in the diaspora.

While stressing the need for an accurate database of Nigerians in the diaspora, she said a diaspora policy would soon be put in place to define and facilitate the engagement with Nigerians residing abroad and harness the intellects of Nigerians in various fields in the diaspora to contribute positively to nation-building.

“We are coming up with a programme called PRIDE – The Presidential Initiative for Diaspora Excellence. We will bring it down to various fields; we are working on medicine and agriculture. So we are getting Nigerians in the diaspora in those fields that are going to come together and make sure they contribute positively to the progress and development of Nigeria,” the Senior Special Assistant to the President said.

Mrs. Dabiri-Erewa expressed the confidence that with about $21 billion remitted to the country annually, Nigerians in the diaspora are capable of pulling the country out of recession if they are adequate informed and engaged by the government, while also disclosing the plan to float a Diaspora Bond.

Lagos Urges Residents To Volunteer Information To Security Agencies To Combat Crime?

The Lagos State Government yesterday reassured residents of its ability to combat all forms of crime within the state just as it reaffirmed its commitment to prompt response to all crime incidents reported by residents to the various security agencies.

The Special Adviser to the Governor on Communities and Communication, Mr. Kehinde Bamigbetan, spoke at the monthly interactive session held at Ikorodu with the theme ‘Securing our Communities’ organised by the Ministry of Local Government and Community Affairs for Community Development Committees (CDCs), Neighbourhood Watch, Community Development Associations and other relevant stakeholders.

In a statement, Bamigbetan urged residents not to hide any vital information on crimes from security agencies, saying that, “information gathering is an integral part of securing the environment as it is fuel on which both offensive and defensive operations are based.? “If proactive information intelligence is not provided to security agencies about a threat, the threat will eventually manifest,’’ he said. He said that the state government has provided enough equipment and resources, human and materials, to wipe out criminality in the entire state and is exploring ways to foster a structured relationship with all informal security agencies with a vision to holistically and collectively combating crime in the state.

He assured Ikorodu residents that the state government had zero tolerance for crime, be it kidnapping, stealing, and other criminal acts, urging them to remain calm as the Rapid Response Squad (RRS) was on top of the security challenges being faced at present.

“Lagos State Government has established a RRS Marine Police and is now working with the Naval authorities to ensure that the creeks are taken care of; monitoring and surveillance of these areas has increased and Lagos State is contributing its own quota to ensure that both the marine police and naval authorities are able to respond to challenges facing our creeks,’’ he said.

Earlier, the Sole Administrator, Ikorodu Local council, Gbolahan Ogunleye, earlier in his address assured all the security agencies in Ikorodu Division of his administration’s support in ensuring that operations are carried out judiciously, adding “security is everybody’s business and we all need to work hard to ensure a crime free society.”

In his own contribution, representative of the State Security Service, Ikorodu Division, Mr. Funsho Adeleke, implored residents not to leave security issues to government alone because people in the neighbourhood have vital information about those who reside in their various localities.

Adeleke, therefore, urged all residents in Ikorodu to volunteer vital and useful information that will be helpful to the office of the State Security Services in ensuring that all areas of the state are safe and secured.

Credit: Guardian

We Have No Fraud Information On Buhari’s Wife– US

The United States government says it has no information on the alleged crimes committed by President Muhammadu Buhari’s wife, Aisha.

The acting Public Affairs Officer, US Consulate General, Lagos, Frank Sellin, said this in an email sent to a reporter on Tuesday.

Sellin said this in response to an enquiry made by reporters regarding allegations that the President’s wife was wanted in the US and was avoiding travelling to the country.

In a message, Sellin said, “Thank you for the inquiry.  We have no information to provide on this matter.”

The Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, had, last month, alleged that Mrs. Buhari was involved in the $185m Halliburton scandal.

Credit: Punch

Kidnapped Colonel: Army Offers N1 Million Reward For Information

The Nigeria Army has promised a million naira reward for anyone with useful information that could lead to the rescue of its abducted officer, Samaila Inusa.

It also promised to give adequate protection to anyone who provide useful information, adding that such tip-off would be treated with utmost confidentiality.

Mr. Inusa, a colonel, was whisked away in his Mercedes-Benz car by gunmen around Kamazo, along Kaduna Refinery Road, in Chikun local government area of Kaduna State.

As part of efforts to successfully rescue the senior officer, a spokesperson for the First Division of the Nigerian Army, Usman Abdul, a colonel, announced the cash-for-information offer to journalists on Monday morning.

The Army had earlier promised a N500,000 cash reward for information, but on Monday raised the cash reward to N1million.

Mr. Abdul had said in a statement on Sunday that the senior officer was abducted on Saturday night.

According to the statement, “the abductors dropped off Colonel Inusa’s wife and left with him in his car. The car headed towards Abuja.”

Credit: Premiumtimes

Lai Mohammed Fires Heads Of Information Parastatals

The Federal Government has disengaged the heads of the six information-related parastatals under the Ministry of Information and Culture.

The affected Chief Executives are the Directors-General of NTA, Mr Sola Omole, FRCN, Mr Ladan Salihu, VON, Mr Sam Worlu, NOA, Mr Mike Omeri, NBC Mr Emeka Mba and the Managing Director of NAN Mr Ima Niboro.

In a statement which said that the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, announced the disengagement during a meeting he held with the Chief Executives of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), Voice of Nigeria (VON), News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and the National Orientation Agency (NOA) on Monday .

The Minister directed the disengaged Chief Executives to hand over to the most senior officials in their various establishments, the statement said.

He however thanked them for their service to the nation and wished them the best of luck in their future endeavours.

Credit: Leadership

$1,000 Reward For Information To Find Women Who Sexually Assaulted Man By Twerking

Washington, D.C., police are looking for two women who were seen twerking and groping a man in a local business on Oct. 7, CBS Local reports.

In the original video, which has since been made private but copies of it have popped up elsewhere, the women can be seen taking turns harassing the man, backing up into him, and touching him while he keeps trying to get away.

Local police have released the surveillance video of the crime in the hopes that someone can come forward and identify the two persons of interest who they say would be charged with third-degree sexual abuse.

They’re also offering a reward of up to $1,000 for information that could lead to the arrest.

Credit: Cosmopolitan

World Bank Wants More Time To Compile Information On Abacha Loot

The World Bank says it needs additional time to provide comprehensive information on the spending of recovered funds looted by the late Nigerian Head of State, Sani Abacha.

The World Bank told the human rights group seeking information on the loot, which is about seven billion dollars, that for now it is compiling information on the spending.

According to the World Bank “In response to your request, we would like to inform you that we are still considering your request and we will need additional time because the money involved is too huge for us to handle.”

The World Bank said that although it takes just 20 working days to respond to such requests, under special cases it could take much longer time.

The loot stolen by the former military ruler from 1993 to 1998 is estimated to be worth 11.3 billion dollars.

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, had written to the World Bank demanding information on the spending of the loot recovered from the late military dictator, General Sani Abacha.

The World Bank acknowledged the request and asked for more time to be able to supply comprehensive information on how the recovered Abacha loot was spent.

Credit: ChannelsTV

Fayose Offers N2million For Information On Kidnapped Priest

Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, has said that he has met with the Police authorities and the Department of State Security (DSS) to map out strategy for the rescue of kidnapped Catholic Priest, Fr. Emmanuel Akingbade.

Mr. Akingbade was kidnapped on Tuesday night in his home at Ado-Ekiti by armed men, who are demanding N20million for his release.

In a broadcast Tuesday, Mr. Fasoye said the kidnapping of the clergy man was a major challenge to the state. He promised to give N2 million to anyone with useful information that could lead to the arrest of the kidnappers.

He assured that efforts were underway to secure his freedom, and urged the people to desist from street protest while the search for the priest lasts. Mr. Fayose said, “We have plans to rid the state of kidnappers, I have spoken with the police and the SSS to be proactive in getting the kidnapped father released.”

He admitted that kidnapping posed a serious challenge to the state, noting that the strategy for dealing with kidnapping was different from other criminal activities. While stating that some suspected kidnappers were in police custody, the governor assured that the remaining criminals would also be apprehended as soon as possible.

“The issue of kidnap goes beyond political matters, everyone irrespective of party affiliations should team up with the government to deal with the kidnapping menace in the state,” he said.